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There were foreign born players in the BAA (The NBA from 1946-1949) in the very first season (1946-1947). There were German (Frido Frey), Italian (Hank Biasatti), and Canadian born (Norm Baker & Gino Sovran) players.

After the first BAA season, the very first BAA Draft was held in 1947. Hank Biasatti, born in Italy, was taken by the Boston Celtics making him the very first foreign born player to be drafted into the NBA.

In 1970, the first truly foreign players were taken in the draft. Manuel Raga from Mexico and Dino Meneghin from Italy were the first foreign born players drafted who were playing in foreign leagues. Neither Raga or Meneghin ever made it to the NBA though.


According to, Georgi Glouchkov of Bulgaria was the first foreign born player in the NBA when he was signed by the Phoenix Suns in 1985. Glouchkov played in 49 games for the Suns in the 1985-1986 season averaging 4.9 points a game. He spent only one season with the Suns and went back to play in Europe the following season.

This is incorrect, Rolando Antonio "Ro" Blackman was born in Panamá, February 26th 1959 and played for the Dallas Mavericks from 1981 until 1992 before closing out the last 2 years of his career with the New York Knickerbockers.

Mychal Thompson (Bahamas). Drafted 1st overall in 1978 NBA draft. 2 x championships 87/88 with LA Lakers. Retired in 1991.

Lars Hansen (Denmark). Drafted 3rd round, 37th overall in 1976 NBA draft by Chicago Bulls. 15 games in NBA, Avg 5.1 pts, 3.9 reb.

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12y ago
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13y ago

The first foreign born NBA player to win an MVP was Hakeem Olajuwon. He won it in 1994. The personal awards Olajuwon won in his playing career were:

  • 1982-83 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player
  • 1992-93 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1993-94 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1993-94 NBA MVP
  • 1993-94 NBA Finals MVP
  • 1994-95 NBA Finals MVP
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Q: Who was the first foreign born player in the NBA?
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