The NBA may be the top league for basketball players to ply their craft, but it surely isn’t the only place to do so. There are leagues across the globe that attract really good players, but many just aren’t good enough to play with the world’s best like LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Some of those guys were good enough to play in the NBA, but aren’t at that level anymore. Others just can’t let it go and think they’re going to play until they're 100 years old. For some, it’s about the money. But seriously, who wouldn’t want to be the man playing in Belarus?!
You’ve got a guy who’s dominated as a basketball player since he was 10 years old and here he is at 24, having left college without finishing after two years to pursue his dreams, only to be out of the league without much to show for it. Do you think that guy is going to move furniture for minimum wage when he could go to China and make some good money playing ball?
Here’s a look at 15 such players who have continued their careers after stints in the NBA wrapped up.
15 Jimmer Fredette
14 Ricky Davis
Talk about a journeyman who went to every place he could play. Ricky Davis was on six different NBA rosters from 1998-2010, but wasn’t ready to give up his hoop dreams and left the U.S. to play in Turkey, China and France. But that isn’t the NBA and Davis wanted to get back to the game’s highest level. So he did what sounds like the most direct path back and played in the D-League. Honestly, who in that sense could blame him? I’d rather play in Iowa than a gym in Russia somewhere. Davis wasn’t one of those down on his luck stories; he was doing it because that desire to compete never went away.
13 Chris Morris
12 Marcus Fizer
11 Hamed Haddadi
10 Adam Morrison
Hey, remember Adam Morrison, the guy out of Gonzaga who rocked a weird mustache while leading the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 during the 2006 NCAA tournament? Maybe you remember him weeping on the court after the Bulldogs bowed out of said tournament? That season, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association named Morrison its college player of the year and he parlayed it into the third overall selection of the impending NBA Draft. That’s where the story basically ends for Morrison unless you follow Euro basketball. Morrison played in the NBA from 2006-10, averaging 7.5 points and two rebounds for the Bobcats and Lakers.
9 Anthony Randolph
8 Andray Blatche
7 Rudy Fernandez
Fernandez was a European star on the rise with six seasons of professional experience when he decided to give it a go in the states, joining Portland in 2008. He played the next four years in the NBA, but was never a full-time starter in any season. Not satisfied with his NBA run, Fernandez headed back to Spain where he’s been one of the country’s best players. In 2015, Real Madrid won a Euroleague title and the team has won three Liga ACB titles during his tenure. Fernandez was MVP of the ACB playoffs in 2015, the same year Real Madrid won the Triple Crown, European basketball’s highest accomplishment.
6 Greg Oden
5 Allen Iverson
4 Antoine Walker
3 Jordan Crawford
2 Yi Jianlian
1 Stephon Marbury
Is there anyone else who would top this list? Stephon Marbury is the original former NBA star, now killing it in another league. After a solid 13-year NBA career that saw him average more than 19 ppg, and seven assists, Starbury became a sensation in China when he joined the CBA in 2010. He’s been one of the league’s most popular stars ever since even if most American fans have forgotten about him. Last season Marbury averaged more than 18 points and four rebounds to go along with nearly six assists in 36 games for the Beijing Ducks at 39 years of age, but the team lost in the first round of the CBA playoffs. The year before he was the CBA Finals MVP, so it’s not like he’s slowed down at all. He’s won three titles over his CBA career and recently became a permanent resident of China. That’s a long way from Coney Island, NY.
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