Kobe Bryant Calls Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol Best Foreign Players Ever

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled by Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs during an 84-82 Spurs win at Staples Center on November 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Tony Parker who?

When Kobe Bryant talked about who the best foreign NBA players of all time were, he gave Dirk Nowitzki and Los Angeles Lakers teammate Pau Gasol the nod over Parker, according to Basketeria:

Dirk Nowitzki is the best foreign player of all time, period. After him, I have to put my companion on the list, Pau (Gasol)Pau has always been one of the best, one of the most skilled I've ever seen. And then, perhaps Manu (Ginobili)And then, you know, there's Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, Arvydas SabonisI'm sure I'm forgetting many, but these are the ones that come to mind. And Tony Parker.

Having spent the better part of the last decade playing next to Gasol, Kobe's high opinion of the big man is to be expected. Even Dirk Nowitzki's inclusion at the very top isn't all that surprising.

Parker's near absence is.

Each of the players Kobe pays homage to are some of the greatest overseas talents to ever play the game. There's no question there. That Arvydas Sabonis' name came to Kobe's mind before Parker's did is perplexing.

It's not as if he wasn't in a current-player mindset. Manu Ginobili made the cut after Dirk and Pau, after all. Parker's name wasn't mentioned until the very end, when Kobe's list appeared to be complete.

Brain fart, much? Or maybe we should chalk it up to old age? Kobe is pushing 35.

Without even delving into the criteria behind Kobe's sequential organization, Parker's near absence has to be the result of some sort of mistake. The five-time All-Star nearly led San Antonio Spurs to the fourth NBA title of his career and used the postseason as a means to make a case for himself as the best point guard in the league.

More than some wouldn't hesitate to argue he belongs right up there—or above—Dirk and Pau. Just about everyone needs to believe he deserves to be ranked higher than Manu, because he should. That much is obvious. 

I, for one, won't hold Kobe's near whiff against him. Though I don't understand how Parker's name would fail him while answering a question like this. There's no way he doesn't believe the point man deserves the type of recognition he gave to Pau and Dirk. It's not possible.

Or so one would hope.