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The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time

Updated May 2, 2020 60.5k votes 7.3k voters 81.3k 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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  • 1
    Dražen Petrović is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,618
    443

    AgeDec. at 29 (1964-1993)

    BirthplaceCroatia

    TeamsPortland Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets

  • 2
    Toni Kukoč is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,109
    397

    Age52

    BirthplaceCroatia

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

  • 3
    Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    2,102
    1,412

    Age57

    BirthplaceAfrica

    TeamsHouston Rockets, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors

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  • 4
    Dirk Nowitzki is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    2,276
    1,552

    Age42

    BirthplaceGermany

    TeamsDallas Mavericks, Dallas Mavericks

  • 5
    Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,670
    717

    Age26

    BirthplaceAthens, Greece

    TeamsMilwaukee Bucks

  • 6
    Patrick Ewing is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,017
    681

    Age58

    BirthplaceJamaica

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

  • 7
    Dikembe Mutombo is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    860
    591

    Dikembe Mutombo

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Age54

    BirthplaceAfrica

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

  • 8
    Kristaps Porzingis is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    626
    195

    Kristaps Porzingis

    Latvia
  • 9
    Arvydas Sabonis is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    683
    463

    Age56

    BirthplaceEurope

    TeamsPortland Trail Blazers, Portland Trail Blazers

  • 10
    Al Horford is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    487
    318

    Al Horford

    Dominican Republic

    Age34

    BirthplaceDominican Republic

    TeamsPhiladelphia 76ers

  • 11
    Manute Bol is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    347
    180

    AgeDec. at 48 (1962-2010)

    BirthplaceSouth Africa

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

  • 12
    Yao Ming is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,002
    723

    Age40

    BirthplaceChina

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

  • 13
    Steve Nash is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,361
    1,033

    Steve Nash

    Canada, England

    Age46

    BirthplaceSouth Africa

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

  • 14
    Marc Gasol is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    705
    503

    Marc Gasol

    Spanish

    Age35

    BirthplaceSpain

    TeamsToronto Raptors

  • 15
    Nikola Jokić is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    675
    289

    Nikola Jokić

    Serbian

    Age21

    BirthplaceSombor, FR Yugoslavia

    TeamsDenver Nuggets

  • 16
    Steven Adams is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    366
    181

    Steven Adams

    New Zealand

    Age27

    BirthplaceRotorua, New Zealand

    TeamsOklahoma City Thunder

  • 17
    Patty Mills is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    274
    159

    Patty Mills

    Australia

    Age32

    BirthplaceAustralia

    TeamsSan Antonio Spurs

  • 18
    Manu Ginóbili is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,494
    1,204

    Age43

    BirthplaceSouth America

    TeamsSan Antonio Spurs

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  • 19
    Tony Parker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,025
    814

    Age38

    BirthplaceFrance

    TeamsSan Antonio Spurs

    More Tony Parker 

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  • 20
    Detlef Schrempf is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    355
    256

    Age57

    BirthplaceGermany

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

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  • 21
    Pau Gasol is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    1,074
    865

    Age40

    BirthplaceEurope

    TeamsPortland Trail Blazers

  • 22
    Joel Embiid is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    489
    57

    Joel Embiid

    Cameroon

    Age21

    BirthplaceYaoundé, Cameroon

    TeamsPhiladelphia 76ers

    More Joel Embiid 

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  • 23
    Peja Stojaković is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    738
    579

    Age43

    BirthplaceSerbia

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

  • 24
    Jonas Valunciunas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    273
    171

    Age28

    BirthplaceUtena, Lithuania

    TeamsMemphis Grizzlies

  • 25
    Kyrie Irving is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time
    402
    65

    Kyrie Irving

    Australia

    Age28

    BirthplaceMelbourne, Australia

    TeamsBrooklyn Nets

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