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15 NBA Players You Didn't Know Played Overseas: Magic Johnson And Scottie Pippen Played In Sweden

15 NBA Players You Didn't Know Played Overseas: Magic Johnson And Scottie Pippen Played In Sweden

The NBA is not the only source of professional basketball in the world. With that said, it is regarded as the top of the food chain. Players will leave their leagues from their respective countries to have an opportunity to play in the NBA. The players who get that opportunity to play in the league will sometimes have to leave just to keep playing.

There are quite a few players that have played overseas because they wanted to continue their careers. Others played overseas before they played in the NBA, so they could showcase their talents. You would be surprised at some of the names on this list because they were so great in the NBA.

These are the 15 players you didn’t know played overseas.

Metta World Peace

World Peace was most successful with the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Lakers in his NBA Career. World Peace was regarded as one of the most tenacious defenders during his time. His defense later helped the Lakers in a championship as he played alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Towards the end of his tenure with the Lakers, World Peace elected to keep playing professional basketball overseas.

In 2015, World Peace signed with Pallacanestro Cantu of Italy for the rest of the 2014-2015 Lega Basket Serie A season. In the team’s Game 5 quarterfinal loss to the Reyer Venezia Mestre, World Peace was ejected from the game and charged with five fouls after getting involved in a fight during the fourth quarter. He parted ways with the club after the team couldn’t agree to a new contract.

Alex English

Alex English

When English left the Nuggets, he held nearly every team record, including career points, assists, games, and minutes. He also held the highest career scoring average with the team at 25.9 points per game. The Nuggets eventually retired his jersey for making the All-Star team eight times, as well as the All-NBA Team three times. English was also the first NBA player ever to score 2,000 points in eight consecutive seasons.

After helping the Nuggets make the playoffs nine consecutive times, English opted to continue his career overseas. No other team wanted to sign English for the 1991-1992 season, so he played a short stint in Italy with Basket Napoli. After that one season, he ended his playing career.

Artis Gilmore

Artis Gilmore Italy

Gilmore played in six All-Star Games and led the NBA in field goal percentage in four consecutive seasons. That included shooting a career-best 67% from the field in 1980-1981. At the time, that was the third-highest percentage in NBA history. When Gilmore retired, he was the NBA’s career leader in field goal percentage (minimum 2,000 shots made) with 59.9%.

Later in his career, Gilmore played in the Italian League. He joined Arimo Bologna in 1988-1989, where he averaged 12.3 points and 11.0 rebounds. He made the European All-Star Team.

Darryl Dawkins


Based on his personality, Dawkins’ personality was a natural fit with the “Bad Boys'' Detroit Pistons. In the 1983-1984 season, Dawkins set an NBA record by committing 386 personal fouls. Despite being limited to 14 games over two seasons, many regarded Dawkins as a major league in the locker room. In his final season in the NBA, he enjoyed winning an NBA championship.

Dawkins received a training camp invitation from the Orlando Magic for their inaugural season in 1989, but he opted to play in Italy. He played several seasons in Italy. He played for Torino, Olimpia Milano, and Telemarket Forli. He attempted a comeback in 1994 with the Nuggets and 1995 with the Celtics.

Byron Scott

Byron Scott

Scott, a three-time NBA champion, enjoyed a successful career with the Lakers. He then enjoyed a successful career overseas. In the summer of 1997, Scott signed with the Greek Basket League team Panathinaikos for the 1997-1998 season. That year, he played with Panathinaikos in the FIBA Saporta Cup (known as the FIBA EuroCup).

That season, he helped lead his team to the Greek Basket League championship. He averaged 17.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals. After one season of winning the championship, Scott retired from playing professional basketball. He would then pursue a career in coaching.

Bill Laimbeer

LOS ANGELES - 1987:  Bill Laimbeer #40 of the Detroit Pistons looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California in the 1987-1988 NBA season.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Laimbeer spent 14 seasons in the NBA, mainly with the Detroit Pistons. He became the 19th player in league history to score over 10,000 career points and record 10,000 career rebounds. Laimbeer was effective on the defensive sign, as no player in the league totaled more defensive rebounds than Laimbeer from 1982 to 1990.

Before becoming the poster child of the “Bad Boy” Pistons, he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1979, the Cavaliers took Laimbeer in the draft, but he played professionally in Italy for Pinti Inox Brescia, where he averaged 21.1 points and 12.5 rebounds. He then returned to the Cavs in 1980, who ultimately traded him to Detroit in 1982.

Bob McAdoo

In his career, McAdoo scored 18,787 points, which came out to averages of 22.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.0 steals in 852 games. He played for the Braves, Knicks, Celtics, Pistons, Nets, Lakers, and 76ers in his career. After playing his final game in the NBA in 1986, he made a run with the Italian League.

McAdoo played in Italy with Olimpia Milano as one of the best American players that Europe had ever seen. McAdoo played with the team from 1986-1987 to 1989-1990. He led the team to two straight FIBA European Champions Cup titles and was named the EuroLeague Final Four MVP in 1988. With the same team, he also won the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, two Italian League championships, and the Italian Cup. He would finish his professional career with the Italian clubs Filanto Foril and Teamsystem Fabriano. He would be 41 years old in his last season.

George Gervin

Gervin’s legacy comes with the San Antonio Spurs, where he retired as the team’s all-time leading scorer. When he left the NBA, Gervin played for several years in Europe. That included playing in Italy for Banco Roma during the 1986-1987 season. That year, he averaged 26.1 points. After that, he joined the Spanish National Basketball League with the TDK Manresa team.

At the time, he was 38 years old. He had lost some of his quickness, but his scoring remained lethal. He averaged 25.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. In his final game, he scored 31 points and added 15 rebounds to help Manresa earn their first Spanish Division title.

Dennis Rodman

Rodman left the NBA after a horrid stint with the Dallas Mavericks in 2000. After a long hiatus, Rodman returned to play basketball for the Long Beach Jam of the newly formed American Basketball Association during the 2003-2004 season. His hopes of being called back up to the NBA were dashed, but he did help Rodman win the ABA championship.

After the season, Rodman played in Mexico with Fuerza Regia. He returned to the ABA with the Orange County Crush the following year. After that, he played with the ABA’s Tijuana Dragons. In November 2005, Rodman played one match for Torpan Pojat of Finland’s basketball league.

Dominique Wilkins

Wilkins didn’t like his role with the Celtics, who were rebuilding in the mid-90s. In 1995, Wilkins joined Panathinaikos of the Greek League. He was provided with a two-year contract worth about $7 million, as well as a four-story, marbled villa of his choosing, a maid, two cars, and paid his Greek taxes.

Wilkins had his run-ins with his head coach, but he managed to adapt to the new league. He averaged 20.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in his first season. He helped the team win the EuroLeague title. He was named the Final Four MVP and then helped the team win the Greek Cup and was named the MVP of the Cup Final. After returning to the NBA for one season, Wilkins returned to the Italian League, where he played for Teamsystem Bologna, averaging 17.8 points per game.

Manu Ginobili

Before joining the NBA, Ginobili was an international star. Ginobili made his professional debut in the Argentine Basketball League with Andino Sports Club of La Rioja in 1995-1996. After one season, he was traded to Estudiantes de Bahia Blanca where he played for his hometown until 1998. Ginobili spent the next two seasons with the Italian team Basket Viola Reggio Calabria, where he teamed up with Brent Scott, Brain Oliver, and Sydney Johnson to earn a promotion from the Italian 2nd Division to the 1st Division.

Ginobili entered the NBA Draft in 1999, where the Spurs selected him in the second round with the No. 57 overall pick. However, he chose to return to Italy to play for Kinder Bologna, when he helped lead them to the 2001 EuroLeague title, where he earned Finals MVP. He finished out his international career as the Italian League MVP in 2001 and 2002.

Tony Parker

Parker was Ginobili’s future teammate with the Spurs, where the two helped San Antonio win four NBA championships alongside Tim Duncan. Before Parker came to the Spurs, he also showcased his talents internationally. It all started in 1999 when Parker decided to turn professional after playing in the French amateur leagues for two seasons.

Parked went professional in 1999 when he signed with Paris Basket Racing. In the summer of 2000, Parker was invited to attend the Nike Hoop Summit in Indianapolis. In a match between the American and European All-Stars, Parker impressed the scouts with 20 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals. That led to a recruiting war between UCLA and Georgia Tech. Instead, Parker never played in college and remained in France, where he played another season with Paris Basket Racing. He entered the draft in 2001.

Allen Iverson

In 2010, Iverson’s career in the NBA was coming to an end. He left the 76ers indefinitely due to health issues with his four-year-old daughter. His final NBA game was to the Bulls on February 20, 2010. However, Iverson attempted a comeback eight months later when he agreed to a two-year, $4 million contract with Besiktas, a Turkish Super League team competing in the second tier level of the pan-European professional basketball league.

The EuroCup was considered a competition below the EuroLeague level. The club announced Iverson would wear #4 and he made his debut a few weeks later. He scored 15 points in 23 minutes. Iverson would play just 10 games for the team and not play professional basketball after that. He would officially retire in January 2013.

Scottie Pippen

In January 2008, Pippen made a small comeback to professional basketball at the age of 42. Pippen participated in the tour of Scandinavia and played two games for Torpan Pojat and the top Swedish League team Sundsvall.

In his first game, he helped ToPo win with 12 points. In his third game of the tour, Pippen scored 21 points, recorded 12 rebounds, and had six assists in 30 minutes of action. The Sundsvall Dragons paid Pippen $66,000 for his appearance. After that, he was officially done playing professional basketball.

Magic Johnson

After a successful run in the 1980s, which included five NBA championships, Johnson was forced to retire in 1991 due to an HIV diagnosis. After five years out of the NBA, Johnson made a brief return in 1996. Johnson was not the same player he once was. Three years later, Johnson made one more comeback appearance.

In 1999, Johnson joined the Swedish team, M7 Boras. The team is now known as Boras Basket. The team was undefeated in five games. Johnson later became co-owner of the club. Unfortunately, the project failed after one season and the club was forced to reconstruct. Johnson would finish his career by joining the Danish team, The Great Danes. 


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