Once a basketball player enters the NBA, eventually giving it up can be tough. And when the league stops calling before an athlete is ready to say goodbye, they reach a troubling impasse. Their whole life has likely been about basketball up until that point, and regardless of when the end comes, some players will choose to move to other countries in order to improve or extend their careers.
A college star might get drafted by an NBA team, but turn out to be a bust. An international star might take his talents to America for only for a brief time. Another might play well in the pros, but go abroad to attain superstardom. And still others could end up having long and successful careers, but when they can’t hack it in the NBA anymore, they pack up and take the show somewhere else.
Regardless of the reason, the moves happen. But with the abundance of NBA coverage in America, news of former players continuing success elsewhere can fall through the cracks. Although some recent departures might grab a few headlines (including Jordan Farmar, Joey Dorsey, Michael Beasley, Jason Maxiell, Dorell Wright, Will Bynum, and Lester Hudson in the last year alone), unless they do something historic, or return to the big show again, it’s possible they might never be heard from again.
But with the magic of the Internet, stats of players from China to Spain to Australia can be instantly obtained, and the fact that some of them are still dominating can be shocking. In some cases, the mere fact that certain guys are still playing at all can be a surprise.
16 Hilton Armstrong - Tüyap Büyükçekmece (Turkey)
15 David Andersen - ASVEL Basket (France)
In the time between Aussie David Andersen’s drafting (37th overall in 2002) and his NBA debut (2009), he played for four teams: Italy’s Kinder Bologna and Montepaschi Siena, Russia’s CSKA Moscow, and Spain’s FC Barcelona. In his two seasons in the NBA, he played for three teams: the Rockets, Raptors, and Hornets.
14 Josh Boone - BC Kalev/Cramo (Estonia)
13 Mike Harris - Sichuan Blue Whales (China)
If you're not a die-hard Rockets, Wizards or Jazz fan, you might be having a tough time remembering Mike Harris, who went undrafted in the 2005 NBA Draft. Only appearing in 54 total NBA games, Mike Harris averaged a paltry 3.5 PPG and 3.1 RPG. However, if you didn't take a look at his NBA career and only looked at his career outside of the NBA, you'd be wondering how he didn't become a solid player in the States. Harris is a two-time BSN Champion and BSN Finals MVP, which is the basketball league in Puerto Rico. Apart from his time in Puerto Rico, Harris is currently playing in China for Sichuan Blue Whales and it's being said that he's having the best season of his career.
12 Hakim Warrick - Melbourne United (Australia)
11 Bobby Brown - Dongguan Leopards (China)
It’s understandable if some people have forgotten about 31-year-old Bobby Brown’s two seasons in the NBA. He played for four teams (Sacramento, Minnesota, New Orleans, and the Los Angeles Clippers) in 113 games, but only averaged a modest 5.1 PPG. He left the NBA in 2010 and signed in Poland and Greece, before finding success with a 18.8 PPG season shooting .411 from the field with Montepaschi Siena.
10 Eugene “Pooh” Jeter - Shandong Lions (China)
9 Andray Blatche - Xinjiang Flying Tigers (China)
8 Sergio Rodriguez - Real Madrid (Spain)
When Sergio Rodriguez was drafted 27th overall in the 2006 NBA draft, the Portland Trailblazers had high hopes for “The Spanish Magician.” However, after three full seasons, Rodriguez was traded to the Kings in 2009, and the Knicks later in the same season, before eventually leaving the NBA due to a lack of playing time.
7 Juan Carlos Navarro - FC Barcelona Lassa (Spain)
6 Carlos Arroyo - FC Barcelona Lassa (Spain)
5 Rudy Fernández - Real Madrid (Spain)
After getting drafted 24th overall in the 2007 NBA draft, former DKV Joventut superstar Rudy Fernández made both the All-Rookie Second Team and All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest in 2009 as a fan favorite for the Trailblazers. After three dependable years in Portland, Fernández was traded to the Nuggets in 2011, but his season ended prematurely due to injury.
4 Boštjan Nachbar - Baloncesto Sevilla (Spain)
It’s been almost 14 years since Boštjan Nachbar made his 2002 NBA debut after being drafted in the first round (15th), and since then he has played 317 games for three different teams for a career 7.1 PPG average. However, Nachbar hasn’t played in the U.S. since his 2007-08 stint with the New Jersey Nets, having left on a three-year deal with Russia’s Dynamo Moscow.
3 Nenad Krstić - Anadolu Efes (Turkey)
After being drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft (24th overall), Nenad Krstić averaged 10 PPG in his rookie year, and was part of the All-Rookie NBA Second Team. He only improved over the next two years, with his PPG increasing to 13.5 in 2005-06 and 16.4 in an injury-shortened 2006-07 season. However, over the next four years, he couldn’t recapture success at his previous level, save for a strong performance in Russia during the 2008 offseason.
2 Andrés Nocioni - Real Madrid (Spain)
1 Stephon Marbury - Beijing Ducks (China)
Remember him? Although superstar Stephon Marbury’s 2009 departure from the NBA and 2010 signing in China was big news, a lot of people are unaware that, at almost 39 years of age, Marbury is still playing there. In fact, he’s still dominating. The point guard is currently averaging 17 points per game (which is actually his lowest in seven seasons, by far) and has led the Beijing Ducks to three championships in four years. Marbury is living the sweet life in China, and there’s no end in sight either: a statue of his likeness has been erected in Beijing, a stage production called I Am Marbury was released last year, and he recently received his Chinese permanent residence permit. Who needs the NBA?
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