The Best NBA Player From EVERY CONTINENT!
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At the end of December, the NBA announced that 107 international players from 41 countries are on opening-night rosters for the 2020-21 season.
This is the seventh consecutive season that opening-night rosters featured at least 100 international players. GMs are no longer afraid to pick foreigners and it’s now common for a player who’s not American to be part of the league. Not only that, but over the last 30 years, they’ve also reached the highest of highs, winning titles, Finals MVP awards, and Regular Season MVP trophies.
So let’s dig deeper and check out who the best player from every continent is.
What up everybody my name is Stefan and this is Heat Check. Let’s get into it.
Let me throw you a curveball right at the start, since Hakeem Olajuwon did play for the US in the 1996 Olympics but he was born and raised in Nigeria, all the way till college, when he finally left his home country to go to the university of Houston.
The Dream’s list of honors is mind-boggling: 12 All-Star appearances, six All-NBA First Teams, two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, two rebounding titles, and three blocks titles. Vitally, Olajuwon is a two-time NBA Champion, in 1994 and 1995, which was accompanied by two Finals MVPs.
Hakeem’s 1993-94 is something to behold. He became the only player in NBA history to win the MVP, the Championship, the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. The Dream had also made it to the Finals in his second season, 1986, but lost to the Showtime Lakers. But in the mid-90s, specifically in that two-year stretch, he outplayed Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, and Shaquille O'Neal.
No disrespect to his teammates in Texas, but it should be said that those Rockets teams, at least on paper, weren’t exactly world-beaters. Sure, playing with the likes of Kenny Smith, Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Mario Elie, Otis Thorpe, and an aging Clyde Drexler is not bad, but it’s obvious that Olajuwon was the driving force of that team.
When it comes to other players from Africa, Dikembe Mutombo and perhaps even Serge Ibaka should be mentioned, but that’s just for shout-out purposes. They aren’t anywhere near Olajuwon’s stratosphere.
Now, back to today’s NBA. if Joel Embiid continues to play like he has this season and avoid major injuries, and if Philly manages to snatch one or two rings, he might have a shot at becoming Africa’s greatest-ever basketball export. We are following the situation closely.
The choice here is easy. Though we all know how fan voting helped make Yao an All-Star starter early on in his career, the Rockets center was a fine player in his own right. Those that consciously ignore his eight All-Star selections should on the other hand give credit to Ming’s two All-NBA Second Team nods in 2007 and 2009 and another three as part of the Third Team, in 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Yao’s three-year stretch from 2005 to 2008, when he averaged 23 points and a little over 10 rebounds per game, cements his status as one of the best big men in the mid-to-late 2000s.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many players of his size, injuries took their toll. But despite that, Ming is both literally and figuratively head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to Asian players in the NBA.
The likes of Yi Jianlian (despite being the sixth pick in the 2007 draft), Jeremy Lin (even tho he was born in California), and Wang Zhizhi are far from the heights Yao reached.
Also, when talking about Yao, I feel like we must mention that he impacted the internet culture as well, blessing us with this iconic meme that will live forever.
And this is the exact moment from a playoffs press conference.
And speaking of press conference, this is a great time to remind you of that meltdown that I had during last year’s finals.
Thanks skillshare for sponsoring this video. Anyway, The Old Continent is widely regarded as the place that has produced the best players outside North America. Yet, one player stands alone when it comes to Europe’s best-ever player - Dirk Nowitzki. The Big German’s resume speaks for itself. The original stretch four, he was a 14-time All-Star, a four-time All-NBA First Team selection, a Regular Season MVP, and, most importantly, an NBA Champion and Finals MVP in 2011. It’s these last two honors that prove crucial when comparing him to the rest of Europe’s finest.
Yes, we know Tony Parker, Toni Kukoc, and Pau Gasol each have more rings, with 4, 3, and 2, respectively. But, all due respect to those three, ask yourself: Do you really believe that they could’ve been the best player on a championship-winning team or do what Nowitzki did against the 2011 Miami Heat?