The Sports Archives – 4 Greatest European Imports In The History Of NBA!

Although the NBA has been around since 1949, it is only since the late 80s that foreign players, especially Europeans, have been able to establish themselves in the best basketball league in the world. However, in this short time, the NBA has been able to attract some of the finest players from across the Atlantic. Here are the 4 greatest European imports in the history of the NBA.

Toni Kukoc (Croatia)

There have been very few players in the history of the NBA who were as versatile as Toni Kukoc. Besides being a natural small-forward, he could play the other positions just as well, whenever his coach required him to do so. By the time Kukoc joined up with the Chicago Bulls in 1993, NBA fans were already aware just how good Croatian players could be. Future Hall-of-Famer Drazen Petrovic was already becoming a fan favourite before his life was tragically cut short in 1993. Kukoc became the mainstay European player of the NBA and opened the door for other European players to come in. After Michael Jordan came out of retirement in 1995, Toni went on to be a part of Chicago’s second ‘three-peat’, winning 3 NBA titles and being honoured as NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 1996.

Tony Parker (France)

2008 San Antonio Spurs Schedule (December)

Scoring point guards are rare in the NBA and that is what makes Tony Parker stand out from his peers. Recognized as one of the quickest and most hard-working players in the NBA, Tony Parker has firmly established his legacy as a San Antonio Spurs legend. Drafting Parker in 2001 was considered by then coach Gregg Popovich to be one of the biggest gambles of his career, but it surely did pay off. In his rookie season, Tony took over starting point guard duty from Antonio Daniels and his career progressed in leaps and bounds from thereon. Parker is a 3-time NBA Champion, 5-time NBA All-Star and was chosen as the 2007 NBA Finals MVP.

Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)

2009 NBA Spurs Playoffs Round 1 Wallpaper

During the late 80s, basketball was seeing a slow rise in popularity in East and West Germany. After the German reunification in 1990, the sport’s popularity almost went through the roof. One of the young talents to emerge from this boom was Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk was one of those teenagers who chose to play basketball simply because he was really tall for his age. However, his training methods in Germany were quite different from those of his American contemporaries; the main focus of his training was on technique and intelligence, rather than physical attributes like strength and speed. This, in the end, is what makes Dirk Nowitzki a unique talent and one of the best players in the history of the NBA. Over 15 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks has seen him win a NBA Championship, be honoured as the MVP in 2007 and the NBA Finals MVP in 2011. Nowitzki has also been chosen as an NBA All-Star an incredible 11 times.

Pau Gasol (Spain)

Pau Goes Pow

FC Barcelona is mostly known for producing some of the world’s best footballers. However, the club’s basketball team has also produced one of the finest players to play the game, Pau Gasol. Picked third overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2001 NBA draft, he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a decision that the Hawks would come to regret. After establishing himself as a franchise player for the Grizzlies for 7 seasons, the 4-time NBA All-Star joined up with Kobe Bryant at Los Angeles and won two NBA championships with the Lakers. A force to reckon with on offense and defense, Gasol, along with Nowitzki, helped show the world that big European players were indeed technically better than the home-grown NBA players.

If the talent of these 4 players is anything to go by, it is no surprise that NBA teams and fans are clamouring for more European players to make the jump into the NBA.

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Liam Cooper is a sports writer. A sports enthusiast, he covers about games, tournaments and press conferences of the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL in print as well as online media. His blogs reflect the essence of each sport he covers.

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1 Response to The Sports Archives – 4 Greatest European Imports In The History Of NBA!

  1. Pingback: The Sports Archives – The 5 Best Big Men In The History Of The NBA! | The Sports Archives Blog

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