Sunday , Dec , 02 , 2007 Oly Sandor

The NBA’s All-Time, Old School European Squad: Arvydas Sabonis, Vlade Divac, Tony Kukoc, Sarunas Marciulionis, & Drazen Petrovic

But before Nowitzki, Parker, and the modern-day Raptors, an original wave of ‘Euros’ came to the NBA. They were laughed at. They were mocked. And they were seen as inferior. But these pioneers deserve credit for furthering the league’s global reach and creating a climate where today’s ‘Euros’ can compete for the NBA’s greatest individual and team honors …

The NBA is loaded with European talent. German forward Dirk Nowitzki captured the 2006-07 regular season MVP, while France’s Tony Parker won the playoff MVP for his work against Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors underwent a ‘Euro’ makeover, adding a player from what seemed like every semi-autonomous region in Europe en route to their 2007 Atlantic Division Title.

But before Nowitzki, Parker, and the modern-day Raptors, an original wave of ‘Euros’ came to the NBA. They were laughed at. They were mocked. And they were seen as inferior.

But these pioneers deserve credit for furthering the league’s global reach and creating a climate where today’s ‘Euros’ can compete for the NBA’s greatest individual and team honors.

HoopsVibe The Blog decided to show love and name an old school Euro squad. Of course, read the post, form an opinion, and hit us up with your own vintage Euro.

Center: Arvydas Sabonis, Lithuania (Portland Trail Blazers, 1995-2002).

Why: Forget the image of hot-head Rasheed Wallace lassoing him with a towel. And forget the image of Shaquille O’Neal poster-jobbing him in every Portland-L.A. playoff series.

Sabonis was the star of the Soviet Union’s 1988 gold medal team. He manned up against a young David Robinson and then dominated the European leagues before arriving in the NBA.
           
With Portland, he was playing on two bad knees, but still won rookie of the year and was easily a top ten center. 

Forward: Vlade Divac, Serbia (Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, & Sacramento Kings, 1989-2005).

Why: He flopped on defense. He chain-smoked cigarettes at half-time. He dropped epic dimes. And he engaged us with his over-the-top antics.

Marlboros aside, Divac had a very respectable NBA run. He started as Magic’s apprentice in L.A., took a brief detour in Charlotte, clicked with White Chocolate and C-Webb in Sacramento, and then finished up with the Lakers.

Forward: Tony Kukoc, Croatia (Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, & Milwaukee Bucks, 1993-2005).

Why: For a while, Michael Jordan refused to talk to Kukoc because he didn’t “speak no Yugoslavian”. But The Waiter won over his  teammates by finding the open man and hitting clutch shots.The smooth Croatian was a big part of those great Chicago teams, winning the sixth man of the year award.

Guard: Sarunas Marciulionis, Lithuania (Golden State Warriors, Seattle SuperSonics, Sacramento Kings, & Denver Nuggets, 1989-1998)

Why: Other Euros were better than Marciulionis, but the muscular two-guard was impossible to stop going left. Charles Barkley claimed he was the only NBA-er to foul you on every play when he was on offense.

Guard: Drazen Petrovic, Croatia (Portland Trail Blazers & New Jersey Nets, 1989-1993)

Why: Petrovic’s career was cut short due to a tragic car accident. Words can’t express his greatness, so check out TNT’s retrospective.
 

Agree or disagree? Get at us in the comment box below with your favorite ‘Euro’. Click here to read and subscribe to Oly Sandor’s NBA Blog.