The NBA is a multi-billion dollar industry with players coming from all across the globe. There was a time when this sport was almost solely plaid by US residents, but those days have come to a close. Even NBA legend Kobe Bryant was raised overseas in Italy, because his father was a member of the Italian national team. Kobe is clearly regarded as one of the all-time greats, and he definitely benefitted from the time he spent in Europe.
No sport in the world is as popular as soccer, but professional basketball is becoming a close second. There was a time when players from Europe where novelties, but they have now earned a permanent place in the league. Some of the all-time greats were born overseas such as Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. The former champion small forward is easily regarded as one of the greatest shooters ever, and he has popularized by the sport in his homeland of Germany. Globalization is the one area where international players have certainly helped the league. Foreigners are more likely to tune in to a game if a player from their own country is playing.
Basketball in China
China is poised to become the world’s next superpower and the sport of basketball will be a big part of the country’s future. It should come as no surprise that most people in China root for the Houston Rockets. The two best players ever born in China are Yoa Ming and Jeremy Lin, both of whom spent time playing for the Rockets. Ming has retired and Lin now plays for the Charlotte Hornets. Lin is an exciting point guard who has to hire additional security to protect him from his fans whenever he returns to his homeland.
South American Influence
The biggest surprise of the 2014-2015 NBA season was the Atlanta Hawks franchise. However, they were eliminated from the playoffs, because they lacked star power. Perhaps Hawks owner Bruce Levenson realized his error, and refused to make it again. The Hawks signed Brazilian born forward Tiago Splitter in the off season, and his international appeal should give the Hawks a boost this season. Splitter began his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs, wining a ring in 2014. Perhaps Levenson’s experience and international appeal will be enough to propel the Hawks to the next level.
Basketball may never unseat soccer as the world’s most popular sport, because there’s no basketball event to rival The World Cup. However, The Olympic Summer Games give players from the NBA the chance to compete for their nations of origin. It won’t be long before other countries are able to form their own Dream Teams to compete for Olympic Gold.