In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the NBA went through a renaissance and internationalization as teams began to better recognise the talents of players from other countries. But that trend now appears to have reached its peak as the number of foreign-born players has changed little in the last decade.
During the 1980-81 season, only 1.7% of NBA players were born outside the United States. Over the next 17 seasons, the percentage of foreign-born players grew steadily to 7.6% in the 1997-98 season. But then things took off as the percentage nearly tripled in just the next seven seasons, reaching 22.1% in the 2004-05 season.
But despite reaching an all-time high last season, with 28.6% of the players being from outside the United States, that number has dropped to 24.8% this season. That’s the largest one-year drop in percentage ever. This year’s percentage is also only marginally higher than the percentage ten years ago, suggesting we are now at the peak of the internationalization of the NBA.
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