By Lauren Brill

The NBA Global Top 10 highlights the play of the association's best international athletes. This edition of the Global Top 10 revisits the 1990-1991 season, educating fans about which Nigerian-born athlete led the league in blocks that year and which Serbian-born center helped the Lakers reach the 1991 NBA Finals.

1. Hakeem Olajuwon Led the League in Blocks

Now seven years in the league, Hakeem Olajuwon, a native of Nigeria, has proved he is more than worthy of his 1984 No. 1 overall pick. Despite missing 25 games as result of an injury to his eyesocket, the Rockets' center averaged a double-double with 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds this season. Elected to the All-NBA Third Team and the NBA All-Defensive Second Team, Olajuwon was one of the league's fiercest defenders, leading the league in blocks with 3.9 rejections per contest. Despite Olajuwon's aggressive defensive play, Houston finished this season with a 52-30 regular season record only to be eliminated in the First Round of the postseason by the Lakers.

2. Vlade Divac Helps Lakers to Finals

In just his sophomore in the league Vlade Divac has already made a huge impact on the NBA and his L.A. Lakers team. Starting 81 of 82 games in the regular season, the Serbian-born 7-1 center has averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds. A threat on both ends of the court Divac finished fifth in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 56.5 percent from the field and was 17th in the league in blocked shots with 1.6 swats per game. As one of the league's most dominant centers, Divac's tenacious play in the paint helped the Lakers travel all the way to the NBA Finals, where Divac and the Lakers lost to Michael Jordan's Bulls in five games.

3. Drazen Petrovic Improves in the Garden State

Unlike some of the other international players around the association who played college ball in the states, Petrovic honed his skills overseas before entering the NBA. Drafted 60th overall by the Trail Blazers in 1986 (Petro didn't begin playing in the NBA until 1989), the Croatian native was shipped by Portland to New Jersey on Jan. 23. After the trade, fans saw a drastic improvement in Petrovic's play. His minutes increased from 7.4 per contest in Trail Blazers uniform to 20.5 per game dressed in blue and red and his average in points improved from 4.4 points per game in Portland to 12.6 points in the Garden State. Despite teaming up with the Nets star Derrick Coleman, New Jersey ended this season with a 26-56 record.

4. Detlef Schrempf: Sixth Man Award

Coming off the bench for the Pacers, German-born, Detlef Shrempf posted 16.2 points per contest and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game this season. Known for his three-point shot, the 6-9 forward hit 37.5 percent of his shots from downtown. Shrempf helped his team to a 41-41 regular season record, good enough to extend their season into the playoffs. Despite elimination in a competitive First Round series with the Celtics, Shrempf received the Sixth Man Award for his season-long boost off the bench.

5. Toni Kukoc Chosen 29th in Draft

With the 29th pick in the 1990 NBA Draft the Chicago Bulls chose Toni Kukoc. The 6-11 Croatian is currently playing basketball in Europe but intends to join the Bulls in the near future. Despite the absence of the versatile Euroleague star, the Bulls more than survived without him this season. Chicago claimed the Championship with the help of world renowned Bull, and Finals MVP Michael Jordan. Maybe Jordan and Pippen will run into Kukoc in the 1992 Barcelona Games?

6. Rik Smits Loses His Starting Spot

Bob Hill took over the Pacers head coaching position for Dick Versace this year. In an effort to improve the team, Hill shook up the starting lineup, leaving 7-4 center Rik Smits out of the starting loop and replacing him with Greg Dreiling. While the Dunking Dutchman's stats took a dip this season, Smits numbers could still impress any ardent NBA fan. Plugged into the starting lineup for 38 games and then coming off the bench for 38 games under Hill, the third-year pro compiled averages of 10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and a team-high 1.5 blocks in a mere 22.2 minutes per contest. In late January early February Smits sat out for five consecutive games after having bone chips removed from his right elbow. On a more positive note the Netherland native had eight rejections on Nov. 30 against the Bulls, one block short of the franchise record, and a season-high 31 points on March 7 against the Nuggets. The Pacers battled the Celtics in the First Round of the playoffs but lost the series 3-2. Coming off the bench for all five postseason matchups, Smits will fight to regain his starting role next season.

7. Stefano Rusconi is Excited to Play in the NBA

Known as the "King of Slam Dunks" in Italy, the Cleveland Cavaliers used their 25th pick this year to draft Stefano Rusconi. Traded to the Suns for Serbia native Milos Babic, Phoenix is excited to have the rights to the 6-9 Italian star. Playing professional ball in Italy since age 17, the 22-year-old center embraces his eventual transfer to the highly competitive NBA, "All guys who play basketball dream of playing with the best players in the world," he said to a reporter. "Every player to me, when you play in the NBA, you are a superstar. It doesn't matter if you play. If you are a part of the team, you are a superstar and everybody that doesn't play in the NBA must watch everything. Everything." While Rusconi continues to play overseas, he awaits the day that he can stop watching and start playing as an NBA athlete.

8. Sarunas Marciulionis was the NBA's First Lithuanian

Drafted in 1987 by Golden State, Sarunas Marciulionis was the first NBA player to hail from Lithuania. In his sophomore season in the league, Marciulionis, a 1988 Olympic gold medalist, is making a name for himself in the NBA. Averaging 10.9 points and shooting 50 percent from the field, the talented lefty fell just short of the Sixth Man Award. Despite losing the honor to fellow international player Detlef Schrempf, the muscular shooting guard played an integral role on the Warriors squad which finished the regular season with a 44-38 record. Golden State's season ultimately ended in a 4-1 defeat to the Lakers in the Conference Semifinals of the NBA playoffs.

9. Portland Could Have Used Arvydas Sabonis

The Portland Trail Blazers had an impressive 63-19 regular season record. Entering the post season with the number one seed, Portland competed in the Western Conference Finals losing the series to the L.A. Lakers, 4-2. The Trail Blazers starting line up included "Clyde the Glide" Drexler and Terry Porter. Despite the star studded cast, missing from the lineup was Lithuania native Arvydas Sabonis. Drafted 24th by Portland in 1986, the 7-3 center has yet to dress in black and red. As one of the world's best centers, Sabonis won a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics, representing the Soviet Union. Currently playing for Forum Valladolid, a professional team in Spain, one can only wonder what could have been if this big man was on the floor to battle the Lakers' Vlade Divac in the Western Conference Finals. While no one can re-write history, everyone can imagine what could have been.

10. Can You Imagine a "Dream Team"?

On April 7, 1989 a vote by FIBA decided "open competition," would be permitted, allowing for professional athletes to represent the U.S. in international competition. In preparation for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics the U.S will assemble a team comprised of NBA superstars. We expect the roster to officially be announced prior to the 1991-1992 season, allowing the world ample time to build their excitement over what will be known as the "Dream Team." All legends in the making, the squad will likely include Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin and David Robinson.