Vlady Divac, Tony Kukoc, Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, what comes to mind first? If you are an NBA fan, you will find the answer without difficulty. They are players who left their own mark while playing in the NBA for an era, and they have a common point of being non-Americans.
One of the goals the NBA has been aiming for from the beginning is the globalization of the organization. The venue is the United States, and it is called US professional basketball, but as players with overwhelming skills compete, they want to create a league that attracts attention from all basketball fans around the world. At this point, it is no exaggeration to say that these wishes have entered the realization stage.
There are many basketball leagues around the world, but most overseas fans are only interested in the NBA, excluding their home leagues. There are many countries that are more interested in the NBA than their home league. Here, the efforts of a few foreign players who have been constantly competing and fighting against prejudice in the NBA, which was dominated by Americans, cannot be overlooked. The surest way to appeal the NBA to each country is for a national player to play in the league.
No NBA superstar can compare to a native player. Just playing in the NBA is something to be excited about, but if you do well, the interest of the fans in that country often explodes. Argentina is a football country. However, Ginobili’s popularity in his country is comparable to that of soccer god Lionel Messi.
Mutombo is known for his off-the-court good deeds. Since 1997, he has been carrying out volunteer work by creating a foundation to help his country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was devastated by civil war. In 2006, he opened the Viamba Mari Mutombo Hospital, named after his mother, in his hometown of Kinshasa. He is known to have helped many Congolese who were not properly treated due to lack of money. With such stories and good stories, NBA stars from each country are called heroes in their countries and have a great influence on and off the court.
The 1990s have been called the most exciting time for centers in NBA history. In addition to the ‘four centers’ of Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O’Neal, there were more excellent centers than ever before, including Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Brad Doorty, Rick Smits, and Sean Bradley. Vlady Divac (55‧Serbia‧216cm) did not stop competing even in the gap of such a huge big man Warring States period, and confirmed the unique strengths and competitiveness of the European Center through decent performances, such as recording double-doubles three times in the season.
Steve Nash (49‧Canadian‧188cm), who has won 2 regular season MVPs and 5 assists, is one of the best point guards in history. If you narrow it down to non-black No. 1, he deserves a two-top spot alongside John Stockton. He was an excellent field commander and one of the best shooters. He has reached the 180 club four times in NBA history, three of which in three consecutive seasons.
Like most white short guards, Nash was uncompetitive in terms of his physical abilities. His only advantage was that he was a bit quick, but on top of that, he skillfully played the role of a court commander with high BQ and high-quality ball handling. On top of that, he recorded over 50% field shooting success rate, over 40% three-point shooting success rate, and over 90% free throw success rate four times in his career, so his shooting power alone was the best at the time.
Tony Kukoc (54‧Croatia‧208cm) was once called “Europe’s Magic Johnson”. He had the size of a big man and played between guard and small forward, scoring in all weathers around the perimeter and leading the game with good vision. In fact, there were many times when he played like a point guard in international competitions, concentrating on ball delivery and reading.
When it comes to Kukocchi, many people still remember him as the core sixth man of the 2nd dynasty of the Chicago Bulls. In terms of his skills, he was right to play as the starting pitcher, but at the time, he was mainly in charge of the bench ace due to a balance problem for each position. He has the main position, but depending on the situation, it is correct to say that he played all positions, including defending the center. He effectively served as the Bulls’ all-around key at the time.
Peja Stojakovic (45‧Croatia‧208cm) is one of the main players in the Millennium Kings era and is a tall sniper who is regarded as the best shooter in Sacramento Kings history. Stojakovic’s unique fast release and tall shooting ability, which made use of his superiority, were threatening. He had a variety of offensive weapons, such as post-ups and shooting options that exploded at any distance, but the most powerful weapon was off the ball move.
He had a very good eye and sense for finding gaps and was even diligent. In the motion offense that the Kings pursued in the early 2000s, many empty spaces were created here and there on the court, but Stojakovic was a player who could find such places and shoot stably. It is evaluated that he was a textbook-like shooter to the extent that his name is mentioned when discussing the best shooters of all time.
As mentioned before, non-black people are completely non-mainstream in the sport of basketball. Among them, Asia can be said to be the weakest. It is true that they are inferior in terms of the size and level of development of the league due to their inferior physical condition. In the case of whites, they competed with blacks in the US or completed their own style in Europe, but Asians did not yet have competitive weapons.
However, in any sport, so-called ‘mutations’ exist. Dubbed the ‘Walking Great Wall’, Yao Ming (43‧China‧226cm) boasts a variety of techniques and a good shooting touch despite her tall stature, maintaining the pride of the Asian center. It could be less meaningful if he was simply big, but he showed off his top-notch skills even among black big men in the NBA because he had a lot of things.
Dirk Nowitzki (45‧Germany‧213cm) is regarded as the best player in Dallas Mavericks history. There were many days when he was relatively weak, so there is a reason why there were almost no star-level players who shook the league, but above all, Nowitzki was the only player who made the finals win. In a way, it can be said that the best hero debate in Dallas history is over with that alone.
He had a variety of scoring routes, but his shooting ability, as evidenced by the fact that he is the only power forward to join the 180 club in league history, was at a level that rivaled the best of all-time big men. He wasn’t just a good thrower, he was a tall shooter. He could be seen as the pinnacle of stretch big men. He is still the first player that comes to mind when talking about a big man with a good shot.
Dikembe Mutombo (57‧Congo‧218cm) was called the “Wailing Wall” during his active career. He got his nickname because he couldn’t break through the post like a huge, solid wall. There are many regrets when he is simply seen as a center, but when the word ‘defensive’ is added, he is a powerful defensive big man that will not be strange even if he is promoted to the previous level at once. Block king 3 times and rebound king 2 times prove this, but when Mutombo was near the post, opponent players had no choice but to worry a lot when breaking through.
There have been a total of four cases in NBA history where a non-American has won Rookie of the Year. These are Andrew Wiggins from Canada, Ben Simmons from Australia, Luka Doncic from Slovenia and Pau Gasol (43‧Spain‧213cm). Among them, Gasol is meaningful in that he is the first winner. He is also famous for being a basketball brother with Marc Gasol and Adria Gasol.
As a European orthodox big man with excellent BQ and versatility, he stood up against black players who were ahead in physical and athletic ability through a soft post-up, wide field of vision, and long shooting distance. When the late Kobe Bryant escaped from Shaquille O’Neal’s shadow and tried to win the championship as The Man, he contributed to the Los Angeles Lakers’ two consecutive championships as the strongest partner.
Tony Parker (41‧France‧188cm) and Manu Ginobili (46‧Argentina‧198cm) are the main players who created the San Antonio Spurs dynasty along with Tim Duncan, who is called the best power forward of all time. If San Antonio was the center of the ‘twin tower’ of David Robinson and Duncan in the early days, then the three musketeers of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili defended San Antonio for a long time and showed off their dignity as a strong player in the Western Conference.
Parker has experienced four championships and was also named Finals MVP once. At the beginning of his career, he was a duo-type dual guard, but since then he has steadily improved in shooting and passing, and has been reborn as a reliable field commander. After breaking through based on tremendous agility and body balance, scoring ability in the paint zone was recognized as the main weapon from the beginning, but when matched up with an opponent with weak defense, it was common to shake off even the soul.
Ginobili was called the Super Six Man representing the league during his active career. His role in the team is a sixth man, but he did not play the sixth man because his skills were not as good as the first, but because he had many talents in various fields, so he was strategically sorted out from the bench. He was named the 2008 Sixth Man of the Year and was named to the All-NBA Third Team. It was the first time in NBA history that a sixth man was made to the All-NBA Third Team. He shared four championships with Parker.스포츠토토
Two of the other four centers, ‘Black Panther’ Hakim Olajuwon (60‧213cm) and Patrick Ewing (61‧213cm) are from Nigeria and Jamaica, respectively. However, Olajuwon chose the United States when his stock price was rising and became a naturalized citizen, and Ewing also became an American when his family immigrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts at the age of 12. Both have careers with the U.S. national team.