MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo: The plan of the NBA has come up
Trophies for individual services were distributed in the NBA last night. There was a trend noticeable. In the five main categories won the following players - although already by the name of a certain pattern should attract attention:
- When most valuable player In the season (MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo was awarded by the Milwaukee Bucks.
- Best freshman became Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.
- Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert won for the second time in a row Defensive Award.
- as well as Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers the prize for the best banker,
- To the Newcomer of the year Pascal Siakam was selected by NBA champ Toronto Raptors.
It's easy to see that only one player, Williams, is an American. Antetokounmpo was born in Greece as the son of Nigerian immigrants, Doncic is of Slovenian origin. Gobert is French and Siakam comes from Cameroon. Once the American basketball players dominated their own league at will. Today offers a different picture.
American dominance is crumbling
For the first time in NBA history, no US team has won the championship. In the final, the Toronto Raptors put an end to the dominance of the Golden State Warriors. The first Canadian NBA champion - it was a victory of diversity. Three of the most important Raptors during the playoffs were the Cameroonian Siakam, the Spaniard Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, who comes from Congo and plays for the Spanish national team. The manager and squad planner of the team is Masai Ujiri, a Nigerian.
Even apart from titles and individual awards, the league has become more international. Philadelphia's star duo consists of Cameroonian Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of Australia. Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets is revolutionizing the center position. Dallas with Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, Orlando with Nikola Vucevic, Chicago with Lauri Markkanen, Houston with Clint Capela - the list is long. Nearly half of all NBA teams have a star player born outside the United States.
At the start of the past season, 108 international players from 42 different countries were in the squad of the 30 teams. For the fifth year in a row, there were at least 100 players and at least one per team. The most well-represented nations are Canada with eleven players, followed by Australia (nine, a new record), France (seven), Germany (six, also a record) and finally Croatia, Serbia and Turkey, each with five NBA professionals.
15 imagesInternational NBA players: The descendants of Nowitzki
Can take power
The internationalization of the NBA is favored by a sporting trend, which the foreign players have partly triggered and driven themselves. For decades, especially great players had to fulfill the classic criteria: hardness and athleticism. Only versatile professionals such as Toni Kukoc, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol made finesse and distance throws popular among big players.
Nowadays, basketball is far less physical than it used to be. There are hardly any players like Patrick Ewing or Shaquille O'Neal who derive their sporting dominance mainly from physical superiority. Instead, large players are also required to be able to handle the ball well and throw it from a distance in order to be more variable in attack.
On the one hand, Nowitzki's generation made the European game sociable, but on the other hand, it gave a signal to the offspring outside the USA. For Antetokounmpo, role models play an important role in the development of the NBA into an international league. "It's up to guys like Dirk Nowitzki," said the Greek of "Sports Illustrated": "Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and these people, even older, Drazen Petrovic, they've paved the way for us."
A global talent pool
This momentum from international players who established themselves in the NBA in the 1990s was triggered by the "Dream Team" at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. At that time, the US team started for the first time with professionals instead of college players. The team led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird sparked fascination for basketball among a global audience. With a few years delay, foreigners were increasingly able to make their breakthrough in the strongest league in the world.
The NBA benefits from a globalization of sport, both sporty and economical - and is driving this accordingly. As part of the "Basketball Without Borders" program, the league has been holding basketball camps in 27 countries on six continents since 2001 in cooperation with the World Federation Fiba.
So far, the majority of foreign players come from Europe and Australia. The potential on the other continents is still dormant. Only 13 professionals come from the African continent. From India, with about 1.3 billion people the country with the second most inhabitants, there is currently no single player.
China only had one representative at the start of last season, with a population of around 1.4 billion people, with the NBA being the most popular sports league. Scott O'Neil, director of the Philadelphia 76ers, told CNBC, "If there's a second center of the basketball universe, it's China."
Perhaps the internationalization of the strongest basketball league in the world is still in its infancy.