Top 5 British Players to Grace the NBA

Who is the greatest British basketball player in the history of the NBA?

Dallas Mavericks

The NBA has turned into a league of nations in recent times, although British representation in the world’s best basketball competition has been thin on the ground.

Just a handful of British-born players have gone on to make a living in the NBA while one or two more came through the UK system before heading across the pond. Here are five who made the grade in the world of US hoops.

Chris Harris

Southampton-born Chris Harris played just one season in the NBA but will always be remembered as the first Briton to feature in the big league.

Harris, emigrated from England when he was a child, went to school in New York before taking up a basketball scholarship at the University of Dayton in Ohio, who he twice helped to the national championship finals.

That earned him a shot at the NBA for the 1955-56 season, beginning with the St Louis Hawks before being traded to the Rochester Royals. He died in 2022, aged 89.

OG Anunoby

Ogugua Anunoby, or OG as he became known, was also a young emigrant, upping sticks and leaving Harlesden in North West London as a four-year-old and heading for Jefferson City, Missouri, where he went to high school.

After an impressive college career at Indiana, Anunoby was selected by the Toronto Raptors in the 2017 draft. Two years later he was becoming the first British player to win the NBA, though he missed all of the Raptors’ run through the playoffs after undergoing surgery.

Ben Gordon

Another Londoner to cross the pond as a kid was Ben Gordon, who would go on to spend 11 seasons in the NBA, capping his rookie year at the Chicago Bulls in 2004-05 by becoming the first rookie to be named the Sixth Man of the Year.

Gordon led the Bulls in scoring in his final season before being traded to the Detroit Pistons, where he earned the distinction of scoring the NBA’s 10 millionth point in its history.

The shooting guard was always proud of his British roots and played for Team GB in the 2017 EuroBasket qualifiers.

John Amaechi

You can’t talk about the NBA’s Brits without mentioning John Amaechi, US-born admittedly but raised in Stockport.

Amaechi didn’t head back to the United States until his late teens, impressing at college to earn a season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After returning to Europe to play for, among others, the Sheffield Sharks, he went back to the States for a second stab at the NBA with first Orlando and then Utah.

He represented England at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, walking away from Melbourne with a bronze medal round his neck.

Luol Deng

And finally the UK’s greatest-ever player, Luol Deng, a two-time NBA All-Star.

A refugee from war-torn Sudan who wound up in Brixton, South London, young Deng carved out an incredible junior career in England at club and national level.

At 14 he was persuaded to head for the Land of the Free and never looked back, enjoying a successful 15-year career in the NBA, chiefly with the Bulls, but never forgetting the debt he owed England, turning out for them at the 2012 Olympics and many other tournaments.

Steve Davies is an occasional contributor to the MansionBet Blog. He holds a keen interest in many sports, with Darts taking the first position.
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