Throughout its history, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has always been dominated by a majority of American players. Nevertheless, we can observe, in recent years, a rise in power and a completely unprecedented seizure of power by European players.
The conclusion is clear: for decades, it was extremely difficult to win in the big basketball league for a player from the European continent. The careers of certain players who have become legendary, such as the German Dirk Nowitzki (first European player to be elected MVP of the regular season in 2007) or a certain Tony Parker (multiple NBA champion), have made it possible to change mentalities and put aside certain prejudices of recruiters and NBA observers, opening up a new field of possibilities for talent from Europe.
This gradual evolution brings us to the exceptional and unique context of the past five years. In 2018, a certain Giannis Antetokoúnmpo (of Greek nationality) seized the MVP trophy to become the second European in history to receive this title. Since that click, and until 2022, all these individual nominations have been won by European players: once again by the Greek in 2019, and twice by the Serbian Nikola Jokić thereafter.
This four-year period without an American MVP is quite simply the longest in NBA history. And analysts’ predictions point to no change in momentum. On the contrary, we may well be witnessing the very first period of European hegemony in the history of the sport of the orange ball.
In a ranking anticipating next season presented by the famous American sports television channel ESPN, there are indeed four European players occupying the four places at the top for the very first time. We thus find Giánnis Antetokoúnmpo and Nikola Jokić for the first two places. While we observe the advent of the young Slovenian genius Luka Dončić (23 years old) in third position, and the regularity of the Franco-Cameroonian player Joel Embiid in fourth place.
A real revolution is taking place in the NBA and in world basketball, gradually putting an end to the omnipotence of the Americans in their national sport.