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International Influence

How the NBA's global reach has altered the American game

POSTED: Jan 14, 2015 8:31 AM ET

By the staff

The International Impact

The rise of international players in the NBA has taken the game -- and its style of play league-wide -- to new and ever-changing heights.

The NBA has long considered itself a global league in both its appeal to fans around the world and the makeup of its teams. More countries and territories are represented on the NBA's opening-day rosters this season (37) than on those of any other North American sports league -- and maybe any other league in the world. The NBA not only has superstars and MVPs born outside the U.S., it has foreign-born owners, coaches and everyday players, too.

That influence is now evident in how the game is played. Gone are the days of isolation and superstar ball, given way to an up-tempo game filled with ball movement and 3-point shooting. It's the style of play that the San Antonio Spurs -- boasting a roster filled with more international talent than any other in the league -- used to defeat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in June.

In this special series, we look at how the league's international reach has changed the look of the NBA and how the game is played.

Part I: The changing face of the NBA

International Influence

Thanks to a global outreach, some key changes on the floor and a flood of undeniable talent from all over the world, the NBA is no longer just an American league. By Steve Aschburner.

A look at the global reach of the NBA

international map for International Influence series

Click here (and scroll down) for our interactive map showing the reach of foreign-born players on North American leagues, with a pop-up of the record 101 international players in the NBA.

Part II: Spurs scour globe for players

International Influence Spurs - 939

Gregg Popovich found out a long time ago that there are a lot of good players all over the globe. By Fran Blinebury.

Part III: The best international players ever

Top 10 International Players

Check out's 10 best players born outside the 50 United States.

From Petrovic to Olajuwon, with Nash, Dirk, Duncan and others.

The Top 10 international players to ever play in the NBA.

Part IV: 'The Dream' showed the way

International Influence of Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon didn't have a plan for the NBA when he came to America. But he found one. By Fran Blinebury.

Part V: A European coach in America

International Influence -- Blatt -- 939

David Blatt is an Israeli-American citizen who found great success coaching in Europe. Now he brings his worldly experience to the NBA to try to win a trophy for title-starved Cleveland. By Steve Aschburner.

Part VI: Basketball comes of age in Canada

International Influence Canada - 939

The land of ice hockey is filled with basketball talent. And it just keeps on coming. By Scott Howard-Cooper.

Part VII: Europe, pipeline to the NBA

International Influence -- Europe - 939

It's not just about Dirk. Stars, contributors, journeymen ... Europe has supplied the NBA with a range of talented players. By Sekou Smith.

Part VIII: Down Under coming up big

International Influence Down Under - 929

With talents like Andrew Bogut and rookie Dante Exum, and a rabid fan base to support them back home, Australia and New Zealand are making a mark in the NBA. By Scott Howard-Cooper.

Part IX: Asia and India, the final frontiers

NBA Global Games: Nets and Kings in China

An all-access look at the Nets and Kings on their trip to Shanghai and Beijing.

The two most populous countries on earth have had a minimal impact on the NBA. The league is trying to change that. By Fran Blinebury.