The NBA is one of the most competitive leagues in every sport in every country in the world, becoming one of the main sporting attractions and entertaining fans from all over the world, with more and more foreign players making it to the Association to represent their country while reaching stardom.
In fact, more and more foreign players arrive in the US either to play basketball in high school or college or just to go straight to the NBA after playing overseas and this year the number of foreign players reached 113, the most the league has ever had in a single season.
Nonetheless, there have always been foreign players in the Association, and some of them may actually surprise you, as you always thought of them as Americans. So, let’s take a look at the top 10 NBA players you didn’t know were foreign.
Note: for the purposes of this list, we won't include Hakeem Olajuwon or Tim Duncan, as everybody knows they're foreign.
Honorable Mention: Patty Mills (Australia), Matthew Dellavedova (Australia),
Steve Kerr (Lebanon)
Well, the 5-time NBA champion was actually born in Beirut, Lebanon; before going back to the USA to spend the vast majority of his life. After shining for Arizona, the sharpshooter found his way into the NBA to average just over 6 points on 45% shooting from downtown, being one of the ultimate role players and now coaching the most impressive team the league has seen since Jordan’s Bulls.
Steven Adams (New Zealand)
Adams has quickly become one of the league elite young talents since being drafted 12th overall in 2013 out of Pittsburgh University and New Zealand, being the Thunder’s defensive anchor in the paint. Well, the Center is the youngest of 18 brothers, all sons of the same guy with 5 different women. On top of that, due to their stunning height and body, they’re all athletes, mostly rugby players. Besides, Adam’s sister Valerie Adams won an Olympic medal for shot putting.
Carlos Boozer (West Germany)
Before representing the USA during his prime, Boozer actually spent a big part of his life overseas, born in a military base in West Germany and constantly having to travel with his family. Still, the power forward was a key piece in two Olympic USA teams, winning the bronze medal in Greece before finally winning the gold medal in China just 4 years later, averaging 16.6 points and 9.8 boards per game over his career.
Reggie Jackson (Italy)
Just like Boozer, Reggie was born on American soil outside of the US, being the son of an American soldier deployed in Italy. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem like the Pistons point guard is going to have the same luck as Kerr or Boozer, as he’s not even close to the level required to represent the USA in the Olympics, being one of the major flops of the NBA this past season and showing just why the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t want to pay a lot of money for a subpar point guard that may not even be starter material.
Clint Capela (Switzerland)
Capela is one of the most intriguing and interesting prospects in the league right now, quickly earning the right to be Houston’s starting center with his great athleticism, rebounding ability and rim protection. Still, few people remember that the 22-year-old out of Elan Chalon was born and raised in Switzerland, making the jump to the NBA in 2014 where he was drafted 25th overall by the Rockets where he has become a pretty solid player.
Kevin Seraphin (French Guiana)
The 17th pick in the 2010 NBA draft was set to become a very dominant forward/center, but his development stalled after just over a year in the NBA after playing for a couple of seasons in France, being born in the French Guyana. As one of the best prospects in France, Seraphin had a lot of hype surrounding him when he first came into the league, but he hasn’t been able to have the same impact in the NBA that he does when he plays with his France national team.
Al Horford (Dominican Republic)
After being one of the most dominant players in the NCAA with the Florida Gators, Horford made his way into the NBA, improving on a yearly basis to finally become a complete forward/center we’ve seen over the last few seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and now the Boston Celtics. Well, the 30-year-old was actually born and raised in the Dominican Republic before accepting a scholarship to play for Billy Donovan at UF.
Alex Len (Ukraine)
You may remember Alex Len as one of the most dominant presences in the paint during his couple of seasons with Maryland University, averaging 9.6 points, 7.2 points and 2.1 swats per contest. Nonetheless, he actually had a lot of prior experience, as he played for BC Dnipro in his native Ukraine before traveling overseas to play in the NCAA, and the seven-footer has successfully established himself as the starting center in a very promising Phoenix Suns team.
Patrick Ewing (Jamaica)
The 1st pick of the 1985 Draft and best player in Georgetown University history was actually born in Kingston, Jamaica before playing for the New York Knicks, Seattle Supersonics and Orlando Magic between 85 and 2002, as well as winning a couple of gold medals as the starting center of the USA national team. Still, his not-so-talented son didn’t have what it took to represent the US, so he had to settle for the mediocre Jamaican squad.
Kyrie Irving (Australia)
Kyrie was actually the second Australian player to ever be selected 1st overall in an NBA Draft after Andrew Bogut was the 1st choice in 2005. Still, Uncle Drew chose to play for the United States, quickly becoming one of the elite point guards in the world nowadays. At age 25, Kyrie has already won the Rookie of the Year award, an NBA championship, a FIBA World Cup, 1 World Cup MVP, a 3-point contest and has made 4 All-Star Appearances as well as winning one All-Star MVP.