NBA Opening Night to Feature Over 100 International Players for the First Time Ever

NEW YORK — A historic milestone has been reached in the NBA as 125 players hailing from various countries around the world have earned spots on opening-night rosters. This diverse group represents 40 different countries and territories spanning six continents.

The NBA’s new season kicks off this Tuesday, continuing a decade-long trend with over 100 international players making it to opening-night rosters. Furthermore, every one of the 30 teams boasts at least one player born outside the United States.

The highest number of international players on opening-night rosters had previously stood at 121, first achieved at the commencement of the 2017-2018 season and matched again at the start of the 2021-2022 season.

The NBA is going global, and it’s showing on opening night. A record 125 international players from 40 countries and territories will be on opening-night rosters for the 2023-24 season. This is a significant increase from the previous record of 121, set in 2017-18 and 2021-22.

Once again, Canada leads the way as the most represented country outside of the United States, boasting a total of 26 players.

In second place, we have France with a strong presence of 14 players. Among them is the highly anticipated NBA prospect, Victor Wembanyama, who was the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. Fans are eagerly awaiting his regular-season debut, which is set for Wednesday when the San Antonio Spurs take on the Dallas Mavericks.

In total, there were 64 European players featured, and among them, Serbian standout Nikola Jokic, a two-time league MVP, aims to guide his Denver Nuggets in their quest for a championship repeat.

The Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder lead the way with eight international players each, closely followed by the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs, who have seven players from abroad on their rosters. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns feature six international players each.

The past five NBA MVP awards have been won by international players: Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Nikola Jokić (Serbia), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece). Embiid won the award in 2022-23, while Jokić won it in 2021-22 and 2020-21, and Antetokounmpo won it in 2019-20 and 2018-19.

This is a remarkable achievement, as it shows the incredible talent and diversity of the NBA. It also speaks to the globalization of the game, and the fact that players from all over the world are now competing at the highest level.

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