Foreign NBA All-Stars

Wanna hear a funnier joke @KingJames? You and Wade in the 2011 Finals. (@squish41 at Twitter, 2019)

Following LeBron James had fun – while picking Dwyane Wade on TNT – by stating “Everyone in the world knows who I’m going with. I’m going with Dirk — I’m just kidding. I’m going with my buddy, Dwyane Wade.”, @squish41 that is a leading fan account of Dirk Nowitzki at Twitter responded to James with the above tweet.  

Indeed, the NBA came up with a brilliant idea as ‘special team roster additions’ for paying tribute to Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki due to farewell of these legends to the court. 

Although Dirk Nowitzki’s NBA-shattering achievements during 21 years in the US, nevertheless his All-Star selection via such a special way matters a lot for foreign players of the NBA. Given the physically demanding play-style, the NBA has always been the most challenging career goal for foreign basketball players. Nonetheless, it is an undeniable fact that foreign basketballers – particularly played in European leagues – have made significant contributions to the game in the NBA since the 1990s!

In the scope of this research, the All-Star experience of foreign basketball players, who did not take their basketball education in the high schools and/or colleges in the United States, are analyzed and visualized by the Tableau. Thus, some of the non-US players including Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Steve Nash, Carlos Boozer, Jamaal Magloire, Dikembe Mutombo, Rik Smits, Detlef Schrempf, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rolando Blackman, James Donaldson are excluded from the study. Please note that Marc Gasol is the only exceptional player who enrolled in a high school in Memphis, the US in advance of returning to his home country of Spain to play in the Liga ACB for FC Barcelona.

Quick Facts

  • 13 foreign basketballers came out onto the court 47 times in total for All-Star games since 2001.
  • 9 of 13 players played as power forward (PF) or center (C), and 2013 is the only year there was not any PF and C.
  • Yao Ming was the only player, who did not play in a European league before his NBA career. 
  • Serbia and Spain were the countries sending two players to the NBA All-Star games.
  • Yao Ming (6) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2) were the players who were selected with only fan votes.
  • 12 of 13 participation of Dirk Nowitzki took placed with coach selection.
  • Vlade Divac, Mehmet Okur and Goran Dragic had the honour of attending All-Star rosters with replacement selection.
  • Spanish Gasol brothers were the players who managed to post a double-double.
    • Pau Gasol, 2015 (10 points, 12 rebounds)
    • Marc Gasol, 2017 (10 points, 10 rebounds)
  • Highest performance figures
    • 13 Games – Dirk Nowitzki, 2002-2015 (w/o 2013)
    • 28 Mins – Dirk Nowitzki, 2010
    • 30 Points – Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2017
    • 12 Rebounds – Pau Gasol, 2006 & 2015
    • 10 Assists – Tony Parker, 2007

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