The International NBA: How Hiring Outside the Box Builds Better Teams

By David Brown and Emily DonahueMay 21, 2014 4:42 pm

The San Antonio Spurs face the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in Game Two of the NBA’s Western Conference playoff.

While the game’s on the Spurs’ home court in the AT&T Center in San Antonio, several Spurs players don’t hail from San Antonio – or Texas – or even the United States for that matter. In fact, the Spurs are the most international team in the NBA.

Other teams are on their way. In the 2013 NBA draft, the number one pick was a Canadian. This year, the number one pick may well be another Canadian.

The internationalization of the NBA can be traced to the 1992 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team, sports writer Kirk Goldsberry tells Texas Standard host David Brown.

“More and more teams are have more international players every year,” Goldsberry says. “I think if there’s are about 60 or 70 international players in the league right now – that’s the lowest that number will ever be. I think that’s a pretty strong argument. So there’s about 450 guys in the league at any given time; I think it’s reasonable to expect, as the league becomes a more globally … shared phenomenon that the league will reflect that.”