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The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time

Updated May 2, 2020 60.1k votes 7.7k voters 82.5k views107 items

List RulesOnly professional NBA basketball players who were not born in the US

Since the late '80s, the NBA has imported the best players from across the globe to play basketball in America. Initially these players made little impact on the game, but over time, some of the best players in the world are from abroad. Many European players have flourished in the NBA, with Dirk Nowitzki being the most prominent. Winning the league's MVP award in 2007, Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks to the 2011 NBA championship over the favored Miami Heat. The German forward is easily the most recognizable name to come from Europe, but he's certainly not the only star. Nowitzki's former teammate Steve Nash is another former MVP (in fact a two-time winner) who is from abroad. Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Nash has been dazzling NBA arenas for nearly two decades.

Both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have been a vital cogs in the San Antonio Spurs system since joining the team. The France-born Parker has established himself as one of the best point guards in the game, while the Argentinian-born Ginobili is an integral player off the bench on a team that has won three championships since the duo has been in San Antonio.

While a lot of the players on this list aren't household names outside of the NBA community, they are the best current and former international players in the league. This is your chance to pick who is the best foreign NBA player of all time. 

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  • Dražen Petrović1
    1,828
    507

    AgeDec. at 29 (1964-1993)

    BirthplaceCroatia

    TeamsPortland Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets

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    #3 of 175 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History#1 of 32 The Best NBA Shooting Guards of the 90s

  • Toni Kukoč2
    1,107
    470

    Age52

    BirthplaceCroatia

    TeamsChicago Bulls, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks

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    #13 of 22 The Best Small Forwards of the 90s#48 of 85 The Best Atlanta Hawks of All Time

  • Hakeem Olajuwon3
    2,113
    1,446

    Age57

    BirthplaceAfrica

    TeamsHouston Rockets, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors

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    #329 of 329 The Most Obnoxious Athletes#6 of 96 The Best Rebounders in NBA History

  • Dirk Nowitzki4
    2,275
    1,591

    Age42

    BirthplaceGermany

    TeamsDallas Mavericks, Dallas Mavericks

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    #42 of 60 Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport#2 of 20 The Best Athletes Who Retired in 2019

  • Patrick Ewing5
    1,019
    681

    Age58

    BirthplaceJamaica

    TeamsNew York Knicks, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Orlando Magic, Seattle Supersonics

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    #107 of 124 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time#58 of 68 The Best Current College Basketball Coaches

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo6
    1,649
    737

    Age26

    BirthplaceAthens, Greece

    TeamsMilwaukee Bucks

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    #11 of 55 Who Is The Fastest Player In The NBA Right Now?#29 of 168 The Greatest Power Forwards in NBA History

  • Dikembe Mutombo7
    852
    594

    Dikembe Mutombo

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Age54

    BirthplaceAfrica

    TeamsNew York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia 76ers

    More Dikembe Mutombo 

    #4 of 22 The Greatest Georgetown Basketball Players of All Time#61 of 115 The Funniest Professional Athletes

  • Yao Ming8
    997
    714

    Age40

    BirthplaceChina

    TeamsHouston Rockets, Houston Rockets, China men's national basketball team, Shanghai Sharks

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    #24 of 165 The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time#16 of 55 The Best No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks of All Time, Ranked

  • Kristaps Porzingis9
    613
    216

    Kristaps Porzingis

    Latvia
  • Steve Nash10
    1,349
    1,011

    Steve Nash

    Canada, England

    Age46

    BirthplaceSouth Africa

    TeamsLos Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Suns

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    #17 of 31 The Best NBA Coaches Right Now#47 of 102 The Most Likable Players In The NBA Today

  • Arvydas Sabonis11
    673
    472

    Age56

    BirthplaceEurope

    TeamsPortland Trail Blazers, Portland Trail Blazers

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    #17 of 23 The Best NBA Centers of the 1980s#10 of 30 The Best NBA Centers of the '90s

  • Marc Gasol12
    695
    498

    Age35

    BirthplaceSpain

    TeamsLos Angeles Lakers

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    #149 of 199 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2018#35 of 75 The Best Current NBA Defenders

  • Tony Parker13
    1,016
    792

    Age38

    BirthplaceFrance

    TeamsSan Antonio Spurs

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    #1422 of 1,427 The Best Athletes Of All Time#5 of 146 The Best European NBA Players of All Time

  • Manute Bol14
    340
    203

    AgeDec. at 48 (1962-2010)

    BirthplaceSouth Africa

    TeamsMiami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards

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    #38 of 47 Athletes With the Coolest Post-Sports Careers#16 of 87 The Best Washington Wizards of All Time

  • Nikola Jokić15
    681
    290

    Nikola Jokić

    Serbian

    Age21

    BirthplaceSombor, FR Yugoslavia

    TeamsDenver Nuggets

  • Manu Ginóbili16
    1,477
    1,174

    Age43

    BirthplaceSouth America

    TeamsSan Antonio Spurs

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    #83 of 126 The Best NBA Buys for the Money#66 of 75 The Biggest Crybabies in Basketball

  • Steven Adams17
    359
    203

    Steven Adams

    New Zealand

    Age27

    BirthplaceRotorua, New Zealand

    TeamsOklahoma City Thunder

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    #78 of 96 The Most Overrated Players In The NBA Today#7 of 50 The Best NBA Centers Right Now

  • Al Horford18
    472
    331

    Al Horford

    Dominican Republic

    Age34

    BirthplaceDominican Republic

    TeamsPhiladelphia 76ers

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    #7 of 86 The Best Second-Generation NBA Players Of All Time#65 of 97 The Best Current NBA Dunkers

  • Pau Gasol19
    1,058
    838

    Age40

    BirthplaceEurope

    TeamsPortland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs

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    #412 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time#34 of 54 The Most Hated Active NBA Players

  • Detlef Schrempf20
    350
    250

    Age57

    BirthplaceGermany

    TeamsPortland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Indiana Pacers, Seattle Supersonics

    More Detlef Schrempf 

    #121 of 786 The Top NBA Players Of All Time#26 of 232 The Best White Players in NBA History

  • Joel Embiid21
    486
    61

    Joel Embiid

    Cameroon

    Age21

    BirthplaceYaoundé, Cameroon

    TeamsPhiladelphia 76ers

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    #6 of 78 The Best Philadelphia 76ers of All Time#5 of 50 The Greatest African NBA Players of All Time

  • Kyrie Irving22
    404
    75

    Kyrie Irving

    Australia

    Age28

    BirthplaceMelbourne, Australia

    TeamsBrooklyn Nets

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    The Best Kyrie 4 Colorways, Ranked#428 of 439 Famous Men You'd Want to Have a Beer With

  • Patty Mills23
    268
    170

    Patty Mills

    Australia

    Age32

    BirthplaceAustralia

    TeamsSan Antonio Spurs

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    #43 of 76 The Best Point Guards Currently in the NBA#38 of 72 The Best Current NBA International Players

  • Peja Stojaković24
    724
    568

    Age43

    BirthplaceSerbia

    TeamsDallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings

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    #53 of 135 The Best Small Forwards of All Time#553 of 874 Big Grid relations

  • Ben Simmons25
    325
    52

    Ben Simmons

    Australia