The 20 Best Foreign-Born Players in NBA History

1. Hakeem Olajuwon

Country of origin: Nigeria
Team(s): Rockets, Raptors
Career years: 1984-2002
Career stats: 1238 G, 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 3.1 BPG
Accolades: Basketball Hall of Fame, 2x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 12x All-Star, 2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 6x All-NBA First Team, 3x All-NBA Second Team, 3x All-NBA Third Team, 5x NBA All-Defensive First Team, 4x NBA All-Defensive Second Team, 2x NBA Rebounding Leader, 3x NBA Blocks Leader, 1985 NBA All-Rookie First Team

Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the greatest players in NBA history, period. The fact that he played only soccer through age 15 makes his transformation into one of the best players ever to pick up a basketball all the more remarkable. Olajuwon actually credits his experience on the pitch with helping him immediately become a force in the post, as he developed much of his signature agility and footwork by playing goalkeeper on the soccer field. Basically unrecruited, Olajuwon immigrated to the United States, enrolled at the University of Houston, and was allowed to try out in front of the coaches. After two NCAA title game appearances, he launched an NBA career that saw him finish as the ninth-leading scorer in league history.

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