It seems hard to believe, but today Dirk Nowitzki turns 36 years old. The big German has spent his entire NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks after being acquired on draft night in 1998 along with Pat Garrity, who was immediately flipped to Phoenix for Steve Nash. It’s undoubtedly been a Hall of Fame career for Nowitzki, whose versatile game and incredible on-court success have played a huge part in the rise in popularity of foreign players in the NBA.
Whether they were born abroad and came to the United States as young men, or if they spent the majority of their professional careers overseas before arriving in the NBA, international players have become commonplace across the league. On opening night this past season, the NBA boasted 92 international players from 39 countries, and the champion San Antonio Spurs set a record by having 10 foreign-born players on their opening night roster.
Like Nowitzki, many of these non-domestic players have accomplished tremendous things during their NBA careers. From pioneers like Drazen Petrovic and Hakeem Olajuwon to modern stars like Nowitzki and Tony Parker, these are the 25 Best Foreign-Born Players in NBA History.
Note that if you were born in a United States territory, you don’t qualify. Therefore, Tim Duncan is not eligible and neither is Dominique Wilkins (he was an army brat.)Follow me on Twitter @dcsibor