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Number of international players in the NBA continues to grow

Nuggets' Jokic, Murray make history in NBA Finals win over Heat
Posted at 9:00 PM, Jun 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-12 13:04:20-04

DENVER — As the Denver Nuggets look to win the team’s first NBA championship, the spotlight has been on two of the team's most talented players — Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokić, who happen to be from other countries.

“We have 120 players in the league now. So you know, call it a fourth of our end of the league are international players. And not just that, but as you know... for the last five years, we have three international players who have been the MVP of the league,” said Troy Justice, NBA senior vice president of international basketball.

That includes Jokić who was voted the league's most valuable player (MVP) back-to-back.

“What I really appreciate about Nikola and about Jamal is how they're inspiring youth around the world. You know, the NBA mission statement is to inspire and connect people everywhere through the power of basketball. And that's exactly what they're doing,” Justice said.

Justice said the NBA and its partners have been working hard to recruit talent all over the world, with many players coming from Canada.

“Jamal was in New York City for the Basketball Without Borders global camp during All Star Weekend in 2015. And he was a standout star in that camp,” he said. “Our NBA Academy Program, which is an investment that the NBA is making in the next generation of elite talent around the world. And just recently, Benedict Matheran from Montreal, you know, was drafted by the Indiana Pacers out of that program.“

As Jokic and Murray dominate the postseason, a look at the impact of international players in the NBA

Justice said in two decades, the number of international players has grown.

“When Jamal was born, there were three players in the NBA from Canada, and now there's 22. So it has taken off. It's exploding. Canada, for the last nine years, has been the country outside of the US with the most players in the NBA,” Justice said. “I think it's been a, it's been an investment both by, of course, the great work that the Basketball Federation in Canada is doing, but also the work of the NBA.”

Justice said fans can expect the number of international players in the league to continue to grow.

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