Some of the league's best players today have hailed from out of this world, or at least out of the US.
International players have a certain integrity—they play for the team, not for themselves. We over me. They have a competitive streak that is fueled by their passion and love for the game.
Let's show the rosters, shall we?
TONY PARKER, point guard
Born in France.
Tony Parker should be called le blur; he's that fast. You can try and guard him, but watch your ankles. He's fearless; he'll take on anyone in the lane. Us at home are left to imagine what its like—floating effortlessly towards the rim as if held in place by some imaginary hand, and finishing with a signature teardrop.
TP is overlooked by the other PG's today, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Baron Davis, Gilbert Arenas, but go ahead, doubt him. It takes less pressure off him, and he'll only play better.
MANU GINOBILI, shooting guard
Born in Argentina.
Swish. Swish. Swish.
No, that's not Indiana Jones knifing through tall grass, that's Emanuel Ginobili knifing to the basket and finishing.
A trusty left-handed shooter, Ginobili is uncontrollable on a floor. Make him drive with his right, no problem! You'll overestimate him. He'll simply go behind the back, take one long stride with his right leg and finish with his left.
Okay, so he doesn't drive. He decides to stay off the paint and try his luck from the field. Manu will fake, you will jump, he'll draw contact and swish-make the shot.
Coming off the bench doesn't hurt his ego—he lets you decide what kind of player he is when you watch him. Or maybe he'll let three NBA Championships, two Olympic Medals (gold and bronze) and a Euroleague Title talk for him.
HEDO TURKOGLU, small forward
Born in Turkey.
For you that aren't familiar, get familiar. You'll be amazed at how much one can flourish when given the opportunity to do so. He even won the NBA's Most Improved Player award last season.
His efforts made him a solid player for Orlando—19.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 5 apg, and 46 percent from the field, 83 percent from the line, and an above average 40 percent from three-point land. Turkoglu has developed as a solid defender and remains one of the more clutch players today.
TIM DUNCAN, power forward
Born in the Virgin Islands.
What's more insane than Timmy's consistency for more than a decade? The fact that he never picked up a basketball until he was 14 years old. Or maybe that he shows no emotion whatsoever in a game, except maybe when a questionable foul is called. It psyches out his opponents (his degree in psychology might help). He shows no anticipation, no excitement, no devastation, no pressure.
His 15-foot bank shot is a guarantee, and his dribble-pivot-swish is deadly. If "boring" is another word for "crazy good", then Duncan will gladly accept the label bestowed upon him. Besides, you can't spell BORING without RING(S), and Timmy's earned a handful of them: 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007.
YAO MING, center
Born in China.
It's hard not to recognize this man. Maybe it's the height, or maybe it's just skill.
His field goal percentage is incredible; a staggering .507. Always good for 20. He was selected first in the 2002 draft (duh), and had an average of 13.5 points per game. Right now, Yao has about 11 rebounds per game and no one can help it.
He stands a foot above the rest. To make an easy shot, he simply does a little jump and bam—his head crashes into the ceiling and it caves in. Okay, that's a bit exaggerated. But this man deserves all the hype.
Key Bench Players:
STEVE NASH, point guard
Born in South Africa.
After a short stint with Dallas, Phoenix is glad to get its 15th pick (1996) back. And I'm not sure if any other player has been more welcome back.
Steve is 35 years old and plays like he's 25. He's driving to the lane, you follow, he's mid-air, and you jump up to contest his shot and...there's no ball. In half a second Nash accomplished passing the ball behind his back to an open teammate left unguarded. That's how the man gets 10-plus assists every night.
Oh, if only there was a "Best Teammate" award in the NBA. Guess Nash will have to settle with two back-to-back MVPs.
BEN GORDON, shooting guard
Born in England.
Impressive (adj.): Being a shooting guard at only 6'2''.
That's only one word used to describe Ben Gordon. You could say incredible, for that would describe his leaping ability. Awesome is his free throw, dangerous is Gordon's shot.
What he lacks in defense, he makes up for in his offensive abilities. 18.8 points per game is nothing to laugh at.
ANDREI KIRILENKO, small forward
Born in Russia.
Yes, I'm throwing the big man in at SF.
Very fluid for his size, and his large wingspan allows him to play at either forward spot. He's like an assassin. His weapon of choice: the element of surprise. Whether its defense or offense, Andrei Kirilenko is bound to stun and shut you down.
He's even improved his three-point shot, so don't be bewildered if he knocks one down on you. A piece of advice, Jazz rivals: don't bother taking a shot, Kirilenko will block it anyways.
AK47—This man rocks it. He represents the piece of artillery well.
DIRK NOWITZKI, power forward
Born in Germany.
The Blonde Bomber, The Big German, The Dunking Deutchman, Dirkules, German Wunderkind, The Dirkinator.
Trust me, he didn't get that resume of nick names the first year he joined Dallas. It took some confidence and practice to get those. Captain of the Mavs suited soon after.
Being one of the only big men to ever have a knack for threes, it's kinda' scary. You expect him to charge into the lane and dunk (well sometimes that's the case) but he usually steps behind the arc and makes them all day. I'm not talking an occasional three, I'm talking 2-5 a night. He's the only player in NBA history to register 150 three-point field goals and 100 blocks in a season (2000-2001).
So please tell us.
"Dirk, wie ist die Luft dort oben?" (Dirk, how is the air up there?) -song by Sportfreunde Stiller.
I bet its pretty damn good.
PAU GASOL, center
Born in Spain.
His skill matches his looks: a beast. A basketball conquistador.
Invading the NBA in 2001, he made you want to be a Grizzlies fan. He instantly became their best player.
His big, demeaning appearance was enough for most players to back off and clear way for "Power Gasol". Getting to the rim was no sweat for him, child's play. Back to basket, head on, 3 on 1, all easy. His rookie year was ample, with nearly 18 points per game.
This savvy Spanish star is a force to be reckoned with.
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