What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vladi Divac, Tony Kukoc, Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili? If you’re an NBA fan, it’s not hard to find the answer. They’re all players who made their mark in the NBA during their respective eras, and they all have one thing in common: they’re non-American.
One of the goals of the NBA has long been to globalize the organization. Although the league is based in the United States and is called the National Basketball Association, the overwhelming quality of the players competing in it makes it a league of interest to basketball fans around the world. At this point, it’s safe to say that they’re close to realizing this goal.
There are many basketball leagues around the world, but most international fans are only interested in the NBA aside from their national leagues. There are many countries that are more interested in the NBA than their national league. This is due in no small part to the efforts of the minority players who have competed tirelessly and battled prejudice in an all-American league. The most obvious way to make the NBA more appealing to a country is to have a player from that country play in the league.
No NBA superstar can compare to a homegrown player. Just the thought of playing in the NBA is enough to get excited about, but when you add in the fact that they’re good at it, the interest of the country’s fans explodes. Argentina is a soccer country. But Ginobili’s popularity in his home country is comparable to that of soccer god Lionel Messi.
Mutombo is also known for his off-the-court good deeds. Since 1997, he has started a foundation to help his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been ravaged by civil war. In 2006, she opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, named after her mother, in her hometown of Kinshasa. It is said to have helped many Congolese who were unable to receive proper medical treatment due to lack of money. With stories like these and more, NBA stars from around the world have become heroes in their countries and have made a huge impact on and off the court.
The 1990s is considered to be one of the greatest eras for centers in NBA history. In addition to the “Big Four” of Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O’Neal, there were more great centers than ever before, including Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Brad Doughty, Rick Smits, and Shawn Bradley. Vladi Divac (55, Serbia, 216 cm) never stopped competing in the midst of this big man phenomenon, and his consistent performances, including three seasons of double-doubles, confirm the unique strengths and competitiveness of European centers.
Two-time regular season MVP and five-time assist leader Steve Nash (49, Canada, 6-foot-8) is one of the greatest point guards of all time. If we narrow it down to the top non-black players, he’s right up there with John Stockton. He was an excellent field commander and one of the best shooters in the game. He was the only player in NBA history to reach the 180 club four times, three of them in three consecutive seasons.
As is the case with most white short guards, Nash was not physically competitive; his only advantage was his speed, which he combined with a high BQ and excellent ball-handling to become an effective court commander. He was also one of the best shooters of his era, as he shot over 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the free throw line four times in his career.
Tony Kukoc (54, Croatia, 208 cm) was once called the “Magic Johnson of Europe. The big man’s size allowed him to play both guard and small forward, as he scored all over the floor, inside and out, and even led games with his vision. In fact, in international competitions, I often played more like a point guard, focusing on ball-handling and leading.
The version of Kukoc that most people still remember is the one where he was a key sixth man in the Chicago Bulls’ second dynasty. Based on his skill set, he should have been a starter, but due to various positional balance issues at the time, he was primarily a bench player. Although he had a primary position, he also played center defense depending on the situation. In fact, he was the Bulls’ all-around key at the time.
Peja Stojakovic (45, Croatia, 208 cm) is a long sniper who was one of the mainstays of the Millennium Kings and is considered the best shooter in Sacramento Kings history. Stojakovic’s quick release and ability to burst from the top of the key utilizing his length advantage made him a threat. He had a wide variety of offensive weapons, including shooting options from distance and post-ups, but his most potent weapon was his off-the-ball moves.
He had a very good eye for the open 스포츠토토man and a very good feel for the game, and he was also very diligent. The motion offense the Kings were running in the early 2000s created a lot of openings all over the court, and Stojakovic was the kind of player who could find them and get a reliable shot off. He was such a textbook shooter that his name is often mentioned when discussing the greatest shooters of all time.
As we’ve already mentioned, non-black people are completely underrepresented in the sport of basketball, especially Asians. In addition to their natural physical disadvantage, they are also the least developed in terms of league size, level of development, etc. While whites have been able to compete alongside blacks in the U.S. or perfect their own style in Europe, Asians have yet to find a competitive weapon.
But in any sport, there are “mutants”. Yao Ming (43, China, 226 cm), dubbed the “walking Great Wall of China,” is the pride of the Asian Center, boasting a variety of techniques and a good shooting touch despite his large stature. His size alone would mean less, but he has a lot more to offer, making him one of the best black big men in the NBA.
Dirk Nowitzki (45, Germany, 213 cm) is considered the best player in the history of the Dallas Mavericks. Part of the reason is that the Mavericks were relatively weak and didn’t have a star player who shook up the league, but it was Nowitzki who helped them win their only Finals title. In a way, that’s all it takes to end the debate about the greatest hero in Dallas history.
The only player in league history to join the 180 club despite having multiple scoring routes.