Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Examining NBA Impact of International Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo

The NBA recently celebrated its 75th Anniversary and named the 75 players who have had a significant impact on the league. Among those players are six legendary international athletes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Hakeem Olajuwon. These players have made history and paved the way for countless other foreign-born players.

In this article, we will take a closer look at Giannis Antetokounmpo, the only active player on the list. Antetokounmpo, a Nigerian-Greek basketball prodigy, has stood out among the hundreds of foreign-born players in the NBA, especially after winning his first championship in 2021.

The Greek Freak: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo has become a household name in the NBA, known for his exceptional skills and dominant presence on the court. He attributes his success to the path paved by other international players, such as Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Drazen Petrovic.

Selected as the 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013, Antetokounmpo has shown relentless determination to bring a championship to the city of Milwaukee. His efforts came to fruition in 2021 when the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

Antetokounmpo’s journey to NBA stardom has been impressive. He entered the league at just 18 years old, following two seasons of semi-pro experience in Greece. Despite the initial challenges of being away from his family, he persevered and steadily grew in stature.

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In the 2016-17 season, Antetokounmpo had his breakout year, averaging 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists, leading the Bucks to the playoffs. He was named an All-Star and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.

Antetokounmpo’s rise to stardom continued, earning him back-to-back Kia MVP honors in 2019 and 2020. He also won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award in his second MVP season, becoming one of only three players in NBA history to achieve such a feat in the same season.

Being recognized as one of the top 75 players in NBA history and leading Team Giannis in the All-Star game alongside LeBron James has been a surreal experience for Antetokounmpo. However, his ultimate achievement came in 2021 when he led the Bucks to their first NBA championship in 50 years. Antetokounmpo’s performance was nothing short of remarkable, averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in the Finals, earning him the Finals MVP title.

Antetokounmpo’s impact extends beyond the court. His jersey was ranked the third most popular of the 2021-22 season, reflecting his immense popularity among fans around the world. He proudly brought the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Greece, celebrating the win with his family and fellow countrymen.

Despite his incredible achievements, Antetokounmpo remains humble, acknowledging that he still has room for improvement and is far from being a finished product.

International Players Rise To Win

International players have become crucial assets for NBA teams aiming for success. Last season witnessed a record six foreign players being named to the All-NBA team, including Giannis Antetokounmpo. The league has seen a steady increase in international participation, with players from various countries making their mark.

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The 2021-22 season featured 15 international players from 20 countries participating in the NBA All-Star Weekend, including six international starters in the All-Star Game. This trend signifies the global impact of the NBA and the opportunities it provides to players worldwide.

The NBA has made a significant effort to welcome international talent, with over 100 international players on rosters for eight consecutive seasons. The league’s Basketball Without Borders program, launched in 2001, has contributed to global player development and community outreach, with a record 35 participants from the program in the 2021-22 season.

Furthermore, the NBA Academy, which identifies and develops non-U.S. prospects, has produced promising talents like Thunder rookie Josh Giddey, the first NBA Academy graduate to be drafted.

The NBA’s global reach extends to both players and fans. The league has fans in 215 countries and territories, with attracting visitors from around the world. The NBA’s commitment to global expansion is demonstrated by its presence in more than 50 languages and its significant social media following from outside the United States.

The future looks promising for international players in the NBA, as the league continues to embrace and cultivate global talent. The days of limited opportunities for non-U.S. players are long gone, with players from diverse backgrounds making their mark on the league.

Giannis Antetokounmpo recognizes the growing impact of international players and believes that more talented players will continue to come from all over the world.


Q: How many international players were named to the All-NBA team last season?
A: A record six foreign players were named to the All-NBA team last season, including Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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Q: How many international players participated in the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend?
A: Fifteen international players from 20 countries participated in the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend, with six international players starting in the All-Star Game.

Q: How many international players are currently in the NBA?
A: The NBA has had at least 100 international players on rosters for eight consecutive seasons, with a record 35 players in the 2021-22 season having participated in the Basketball Without Borders program.


In this article, we examined the impact of international players in the NBA, with a special focus on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo’s incredible journey from Greece to becoming a two-time MVP and NBA champion exemplifies the growing influence of international players in the league.

The NBA’s commitment to global talent is evident in the increasing number of international players named to the All-NBA team and their participation in events like the NBA All-Star Weekend. The league’s initiatives, such as Basketball Without Borders and the NBA Academy, have paved the way for talented players from around the world.

As the NBA continues to expand its reach and embrace international players, the future looks bright for the global growth of the game. Giannis Antetokounmpo and other international stars are leading the way, inspiring the next generation of basketball players worldwide.

To stay updated on the latest NBA news and international player achievements, visit and join the global basketball community.