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Sasha Vujacic Names Vlade Divac, Drazen Petrovic, And Arvydas Sabonis As Pioneers For European Players: "Kids Back In The Day Saw What All The Pioneers Did... They Understood Hard Work Will Pay Off."

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Basketball is truly a diverse and international game today, and we have seen many European superstars in the modern NBA. Nikola Jokic has won the last two MVP awards, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to a championship in 2021, and Luka Doncic is viewed as one of the most promising young players in the league today.

Of course, the NBA wasn't always full of European players. At one point, European players were viewed as inferior, and a lot of European stars had to prove that they belonged in the league.

Sasha Vujacic Believes Vlade Divac, Drazen Petrovic, And Arvydas Sabonis Inspired European Basketball Players

Sasha Vujacic is a role player who was a part of two championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010. He had a long career in the league, also playing for the Los Angeles Clippers and the New York Knicks.

When speaking to Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints, Sasha Vujacic named Vlade Divac, Drazen Petrovic, and Arvydas Sabonis as "pioneers" for European players. He pointed out that when kids "saw" those players back in the day, they "got excited" and realized "that hard work will pay off".

“I think luckily the game became very global and players have developed,” Vujacic told ClutchPoints. “And for me, being European coming from Europe, I understand what the journey was to get here. And when these kids back in the day saw what Vlade [Divac], Drazen [Petrovic], [Arvydas] Sabonis, all the pioneers did — without naming everybody — and then what different generations did, they got excited and they understood that hard work will pay off.”

There is no doubt that all three of the players that Vujacic mentions were key to changing how international players were perceived in the NBA. It is quite possible that without the hard work of players like Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, and Arvydas Sabonis, we might not have seen the NBA become the global sport it is today.

As of right now, though, the international aspect of the game is clearly in good hands. Aside from Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Luka Doncic, the league has a number of other good international players as well, such as Franz Wagner and Rudy Gobert. As the game expands further, it is likely more talent from across the world will come over to the NBA as well.

Hopefully, we see the game continue to develop its international presence. It is clear that embracing the global aspect of the game has been good for the league, and we'll see what moves they end up making on the international stage in the future.