Basketball has become a global game over the past two decades as the NBA grows in popularity all over the world. Football is currently the top sport in the United States. Basketball is catching up to it in the United States, but it's already a bigger deal worldwide. We are seeing more foreign players make the jump from their country to the United States in hopes of becoming the next big Superstar. Dirk Nowitzki and Hakeem Olajuwon are two of the best examples of well-known foreign players reaching legendary status in the NBA world.
However, many other players both currently in the league and retired are not as known for their backgrounds. The average fan usually assumes most NBA players are from the United States considering it’s true that the overwhelming percentage of talents are born in the United States. We'll take a look at the names that are surprisingly from other countries before moving over at some point in their journey to becoming Superstars in one of the United States’ biggest sports. Everyone has a different story and these guys have backgrounds in other places. These are fifteen NBA stars that you likely thought were American but were actually born in another country.
15 Andrew Wiggins - Canada
Andrew Wiggins is currently one of the top young players in the league. Most pundits expect Wiggins to become a top tier shooting guard and part of the talented Minnesota core as they look to contend for a title in the next few years. There’s no doubt he’s the future of the NBA. Wiggins is actually from Canada as he was born in Toronto and raised in Ontario.
14 Goran Dragic - Slovenia
The NBA career of Goran Dragic saw him slowly improve through the years to become a top guard. Dragic tied a career high with 20.3 points per game last season with the Miami Heat. The journey of Dragic to the NBA was different than most of his peers. Dragic is from Slovenia and no one expected him to ever make it all the way to the NBA.
13 Tristan Thompson - Canada
Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has become one of the most important pieces to the team. While he may not have the great numbers of LeBron James and Kevin Love, Thompson does a lot of the grunt work that goes unnoticed. Diehard fans see him going after every loose ball leaving it all on the floor. Thompson is not from the United States as he was born in Toronto, Canada.
12 Steve Kerr - Lebanon
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr had a very good NBA career making clutch shots for some of the greatest teams of all time. Between his success as a player and now as a coach, Kerr knows how to win. The early life of Kerr saw him born in Beirut, Lebanon. Kerr’s father was American but worked primarily in the Middle East.
11 Kelly Olynyk - Canada
Kelly Olynyk is a controversial figure in the NBA right now due to being questioned for “dirty” plays on the basketball court. The entire career of Olynyk up to this point has been spent with the Boston Celtics until now. Olynyk has signed with the Miami Heat as he hopes to take his career to the next level as he signed the best contract of his career.
10 Ricky Rubio - Spain
The passing ability of Ricky Rubio is arguably the best in the NBA today. Rubio struggles to keep up with his point guard peers when it comes to shooting and scoring consistently. Unfortunately for him, the league has changed and All-Star point guards need to score. Rubio is a throwback point guard that best serves as someone that facilitates the ball with minimal scoring.
9 Nicolas Batum - France
Nicolas Batum is one of the more underrated talents in the NBA right now. No one thinks twice about Batum, but he contributes at just about every facet of the game for the Charlotte Hornets. Batum made his name on the Portland Trail Blazers before moving to a bigger role in Charlotte. The life of Batum started in France born in Lisieux.
8 Rick Fox - Canada
Former NBA star Rick Fox still loves the game in his role as a broadcaster. The NBA career of Fox saw him play thirteen seasons on the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Fox was a part of the dominant three-peat Lakers squad winning titles from 2000 through 2002. The background of Fox saw him born in Canada before his family moved to the Bahamas.
7 Rudy Gobert - France
Rudy Gobert has become one of the premiere centers in the NBA today as a member of the Utah Jazz. The combination of Gordon Hayward and Gobert led the Jazz to a 51 win season and back into the playoffs. Without Hayward, Gobert will have a tough task getting Utah to similar success going forward. Jazz fans are up for the challenge with the center as the face of the franchise.
6 Steven Adams - New Zealand
Another talented center born outside of the United States is Steven Adams. The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Adams with the twelfth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Most people assume Adams is from the United States until hearing him speak. The accent of Adams is a nice reminder that the center is from New Zealand. Adams is the youngest of 17 siblings and half-siblings.
5 Giannis Antetokounmpo - Greece
Giannis Antetokounmpo is now one of the top stars in the NBA with his stock growing every single season. The ascension of Antetokounmpo saw him improve from just a talented young player into someone that can realistically win MVP honors. Antetokounmpo was born and raised in Greece making it a tougher process for him to get to the NBA compared to his peers.
4 Reggie Jackson - Italy
The NBA career of Reggie Jackson has seen its ups and downs through six seasons. Jackson’s journey all over the world at a young age is quite a different path from the rest of the NBA stars. His father was stationed at Aviano Air Base leading to Reggie being born in Italy. Jackson’s family moved to England for a few years before settling in the United States when he was five.
3 Steve Nash - Canada
Steve Nash will go down as an all-time great point guard. The incredible passer and shooter won two MVP Awards in back to back seasons with the Phoenix Suns. Nash helped usher the league into its current incarnation of fast paced offenses playing a more exciting style. The background of Nash saw multiple stops before moving to the United States.
2 Al Horford - Dominican Republic
Al Horford may very well be the starting center of an NBA Championship contender if the Boston Celtics are as good as pundits expect. The career of Horford has seen him hold down the fort as a top tier center for the majority of his ten years in the NBA. Horford was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic where he would spend the majority of his childhood.
1 Kyrie Irving - Australia
The most discussed name in the NBA right now is Kyrie Irving. Following his request to get traded away from the Cleveland Cavaliers and leave LeBron James, Irving was dealt to the Boston Celtics. Irving is one of the top point guards in the league after contributing to the Cavaliers making the past three NBA Finals and winning one NBA Championship thanks in part to his game-winner.
A lesser known fact about Irving is that he was originally born in Melbourne, Australia. The family of Kyrie moved to the United States when he was just two years old. Irving has a dual citizenship in the United States and Australia both. New Jersey is viewed as the home of Irving since he grew up in West Orange. Australians still love Kyrie and claim him as their own.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!