The NBA has always had a distinctly international flavor. From European imports such as Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc and Dirk Nowitzki, to African superstars Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon, the league has a proud history of international players.
Over the past decade, what was a trickle of international talent has transformed into a flood. On opening night of the 2017/18 season, 108 international players from a record 42 countries and territories suited up and prepared to play NBA ball.
Over the next month, we will count down the top 20 international players in the NBA. Our first edition focussed on numbers 16-20 and we now look at 11-15. Keep in mind that this list includes players for both current and past achievements.
15. Manu Ginobili (Argentina)
There has perhaps never been a player who sacrificed more personal glory in the pursuit of winning than Manu Ginobili. A key piece on four San Antonio championship teams but never concerned with his own numbers, Ginobili, along with Tim Duncan, epitomized the selfless basketball that made the Spurs so great.
However, to think of Ginobili as merely a great teammate is to undermine his incredible talent. His career in San Antonio has been littered with amazing moments, most memorably his performance in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals. Ginobili poured in 23 points and dished out 4 assists as the Spurs defeated the Pistons to claim their second title in three years.
Manu is still rolling back the years in San Antonio and contributing to Gregg Popovich’s winning machine. He has been comfortable enough to check his ego at the door and lead the Spurs’ bench unit for most of his career. The sight of Ginobili euro-stepping to the rim will forever place him as one of the greatest Spurs in team history.