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Monday, February 26, 2024
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As NBA Expands Global Footprint, Rosters Have More International Players Than Ever

  • Global efforts reflected in unprecedented number of foreign-born players
  • International presence spans 40 countries and territories across six continents
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s on-court makeup is increasingly reflecting its expanding global footprint.

As the 2023-24 season tips off on Tuesday, the league said that opening-night rosters feature a record 125 international players spanning 40 countries and territories on six continents. At least 100 international players have filled opening-night rosters each of the last 10 seasons. 

All 30 NBA teams have at least one foreign-born player, and the current player total tops the prior record of 121 seen in both the 2017-18 and 2021-22 seasons.

But not only is the NBA’s international talent pool growing in size, it also reflects much of the league’s top talent. Three international players — Philadelphia Joel Embiid, Denver’s Nikola Jokić, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo — have won the last five MVP awards and two of the last three NBA Finals MVP awards, while 15 current international players have been All-Stars.

Canada is the most represented non-U.S. country with 26 players, followed by France’s 14 — including San Antonio rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama — and Australia’s nine.

Games Outside The U.S.

That expanding player base dovetails with expanding business activity for the league around the world, including broadcasting of its games in 214 countries and territories, recent preseason games staged in the United Arab Emirates, and planned regular-season games this season in Mexico and France.

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