NBA players in Europe – the headline of the last few weeks in almost any Basketball related newspaper, magazine, web site or blog. As soon as the Euroeleague season starts in mid-October this will be a great topic for current players but for now we got an even better one:
Old school players in Europe. I am sure that even the biggest basketball fans don’t expect some of the names on this list. But let’s get started with some familiar names to play in Europe.
10. Dennis Rodman
As Julien just told me, everybody knows that he played in Europe – if you want to call – one game in 2005 for a Finish team and three games for Brighton Bears, an English team in 2006 – play..
9. Kenny Anderson
Can’t Stop the Bleeing reported that 14 year NBA vet Kenny Anderson has signed a contract with Lithuanian club Zalgiris Kaunas, the club owned by Arvydas Sabonis in the ’06 season.
8. Rolando Blackman
I had the opportunity to meet Rolando at the Euroleague Final Four in Athens this summer where he was working as a scout for the Dallas Mavericks. This is were I learned that he signed with Greek team AEK in the middle of the 1994-’95 season. The next season he played for Stefanel Milano, in Italy. The team won both the Italian Championship and Cup.
7. Anthony Mason
Anthony started his professional career in Europe. He played for Efes Pilsen in Turkey during the ’88-’89 season before he played 21 games for the New Jersey Nets in 1990 – his start in the NBA and before his great seasons with the New York Knicks which he is famous for.
6. Ben Wallace
Wallace spent a few weeks in Italy, playing for Reggio Calabria, before joining the NBA and the Washington Bullets.
5. Vinnie Del Negro
Vinnie was the “Manu Ginobili” of the 90’s and also played for the Spurs. Between being on Sacramento in 1989 and then joining the Spurs in 1993 he went to play two years in Italy for Benetton Treviso where he won the Italian Championship with Toni Kukoc and got the MVP title.
4. Reggie Theus
The current Kings coach, who also played 13 years in the NBA actually played in Europe. In an interview with CSTV’s Steve Brauntuch, Reggie tells us about this offer from Europe:
I had an Italian team come in and offer me four years guaranteed for more money than I was making in the NBA, which was really difficult because I was rounding out 19,000 points and staring 20,000 in the face with one more year of basketball. And at 34, you know, I had a conversation with Willis Reed at the time, and he just said Reggie, you’ve had a great career. You’re 34-years-old. Where are you going to make that kind of money? Even if we win an NBA championship, you can’t spend the ring.
Did anybody mention this to 34 year old, non NBA champion Chris Webber? Now just the Chris Webber fact should give him the #1 spot …
3. Bill Lambeer
The WNBA team Detroit Shocks head coach is one of the most entertaining coaches in basketball to me. Also the nicknames he had during his NBA career for the Detroit “bad boys” Pistons he had are really funny: “The Prince of Darkness,” “Street Thug,” “Ax Murderer” and “His Heinous” for his dirty defense. I wonder if some of the Shocks players know that. But Bill did also play in Europe where he averaged 21.1 point s and 12.5 rebounds for Italian club Pinti Inox (Brescia) in 1979-’80.
2. Scott Skiles
Another current coach who also played and coached in Europe (Greece) which gives him the spot before Lambeer and Theus. The fact that he was a player the one year and got head coach the following year makes it special, too. Despite the absence of the team’s big star, Predrag Stojakovic, his team finished the season in a spectacular way, eliminating Panathinaikos in the play-offs’ semifinals and advancing in the Championship’s finals, where they lost to Olympiakos. Skiles had changed the team’s philosophy and game style and brought incredible results, considering the players left in the team.
1. Dominique Wilkins
Concerning, that he was and still is the most famous American NBA player ever played in Europe he deserves the title. In the summer of 1995, Wilkins signed a contract with Panathinaikos and led the team to the Greek cup title as well as the Euroleague title which was the first European title ever for Panathinaikos.