More recently, the association has expanded its scouting program and even created a brand new league for the continent. As such, we can expect to see more and more African players get drafted into the league in the near future, but let's take a look at the current crop of players with African heritage who are paving the way for these bright future talents.
Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis may be known as The Greek Freak, but he has African blood running through his veins. Born in Greece to Nigerian parents, who emigrated just three years prior to his birth, for the first 18 years of his life Giannis didn't qualify for Greek citizenship.
Since entering the NBA, he has taken the basketball world and the world in general by strom, earning MVP status with his impressive prowess
Pascal 'Spicy P' Siakam and Serge Ibaka - Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors famously trounced Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championships last year, and the team is currently home to two players with African heritage.
Unlike his fellow team member, Serge Ibaka has been playing basketball from an early age. Born in the Republic of Congo, he moved to France to start his pro basketball career at 17. From there, he moved to Spain and played for Baxi Manresa before being drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder. After a stint with Orlando Magic, he was traded to the Raptors, where he has since remained.
Ibaka is the only athlete on our list who is also an Olympian, having won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics representing Spain.
Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers
Also a Cameroon native, Joel Embiid was offered a scholarship to attend Kansas State University despite having never spoken English before. The humble player even asked team coach, Bill Self, to unshirt him because he couldn't understand the English language. Recognising Embiid's star quality, Self refused to do this, and the now 2-time All-Star went on to become the third pick for the 76ers upon graduation.
Although he was injured for his first two seasons with the team, becoming the brunt of many jokes in the media, Embiid overcame the setbacks and was instrumental in transforming the 76ers from a last place team into serious playoff contenders.
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