Olympic Basketball is rich in history and thanks to the huge growth of international basketball in the past two decades it is only getting richer. Since the Dream Team took center stage in Barcelona in 1992 and NBA players have been allowed to compete in the Olympics international basketball has only become more competitive.
The emergence of world class international players over the past decades has led to the growth in popularity of international competitions such as the Euroleague, Eurobasket, the World Championships and the Olympics. Players such as Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Yao Ming, Andrei Kirilenko, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have become international superstars as the chance of getting a big time NBA contract has become real for international players.
It’s important not to forget though the international stars who brought the popularity of basketball to the world and I’m not just talking about Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson but foreign players such as Chicago Bulls three time championship winning players Luc Longley and Toni Kukoc or former Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis.
In recent weeks several American born players and European players have been leaving the NBA to go and play in Europe. We aren’t talking about 12th man on the roster players either with contributors like Carlos Arroyo, Carlos Delfino and Gordan Giricek leaving to play abroad in Europe. So what has brought about the international growth of basketball and the success of foreign players and leagues?
Well first lets not forget the reason why basketball has become so popular for kids growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. During that period the popularity of the NBA and basketball grow through the popularity and marketing of players like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and of course Michael Jordan.
These players became role models for a whole generation kids all around the world and basketball coaches in foreign suddenly had access to a larger pool of talent.
Traditionally around the world most kids have grown up playing soccer and basketball has been a less popular sport that most people stereotyped it as a sport only for freakishly tall people. Fortunately at the same time the younger generations have been growing taller as basketball has gone into the main stream.
Making it one of the most popular sports to play around the globe. With more technically and fundamentally coaches abroad and access to top young talent international basketball has been able to flourish. International high school and college programs are less regulated than in the United States meaning that coaching staff have access to work with players all year round. In the future its likely we will see more and more international stars playing in the NBA and NBA stars playing abroad and the globalization sport is only a good thing for the development of the NBA and the sport in general.