It’s never late to fulfill your dreams and that also applies to sports, with every single baller in the world eager to one day lace them up and hit an NBA Hardwood to be watched and looked up to from all over the world.
The National Basketball Association features a lot of international players that come from overseas looking to pursue their dreams of an NBA career, and even though they’re not always as successful as their American peers, some of them still manage to have very successful careers.
Nonetheless, the fear of failure constantly makes them stay longer than they should’ve in Europe, where they can dominate against slower, less athletic defenders and play at a very different style.
A clear example of this was Milos Teodosic, that finally decided to make the jump to the Association at age 30 despite being one of the best players in Europe for a very long time, and that hasn’t been the first time that things like that have happened, so today we’re going to let you know about the top 5 oldest rookies in NBA history.
5. Antoine Rigaudeau
Antoine Rigaudeau had to wait 10 years to fulfill his NBA career, as he was a part of the 1993 NBA Draft but didn’t get drafted, finally arriving in the US in 2003 when he joined the Dallas Mavericks at age 31, having a very unsuccessful stint.
The Frenchman roughly averaged 1.5 points, 0.7 boards and 0.5 dimes in just 11 games. Eventually, the combo guard got inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame and he started a coaching career in his native country.
4. Pero Antic
Pero Antic was a very important factor for the Atlanta Hawks during his brief 2-year stint, being able to own the glass and stretch the floor with his range when he was needed to suit up, averaging 6.3 points and almost 4 boards in 17 minutes per contest.
Antic is a Macedonia native that went undrafted and had to settle with stints in Europe and the Development League before making his debut at 31 years old, but after an off-court incident in a nightclub, he preferred to go back overseas to continue balling.
3. Arvydas Sabonis
The NBA had to wait a long 9 years to finally see Arvydas Sabonis land to the US after being drafted 24th overall in the 1986 Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, arriving at age 31 to completely dominate on a nightly basis as one of the best foreigners to ever play in the league.
Sabonis was a nightly triple-double threat and had absolutely no flaws in his game besides his durability, as he was an excellent shooter, a crafty passer and a dominant rebounder. Over a 7 year span, Arvydas averaged over 12 points and 7 boards.
His son, Domantas Sabonis (21 years old) is currently in the NBA, with the Indiana Pacers.
2. Marcelo Huertas
Just like Teodosic, Marcelo A.K.A “Marcelinho” Huertas was a very well known player at a FIBA level and the starting point guard in Barcelona, but he was never able to make the adjustment to NBA basketball after signing a multi-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015 when he was 32 years old.
Huertas constantly racked up DNPs at the Staples Center as the Lakers favored young guards like D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, eventually dealing him for spare parts to the Houston Rockets, who immediately waived him.
1. Pablo Prigioni
And the oldest rookie in NBA history was Pablo Prigioni, yet another member of that golden Argentinian generation that also featured Chapu Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Luis Scola and Manu Ginobili, and one of the smartest role players this league has seen in recent years.
The Argentinian arrived in the league at age 35, making his debut with the Knicks and averaging over 3 points and 3 dimes in 16 minutes per game. Prigioni was a 3 and D specialist that would’ve thrived in this league had he come earlier, but at least he lived up to his dream and was able to earn a buck or two in the meantime.