5 Nigerian basketball players playing in the NBA | The culture keeper
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a North American professional basketball league with approximately 30 teams. As the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world, the NBA has players from various countries including Nigeria. From Chimezie Metu to Giannis Antetokounmpo, here are five Nigerian basketball players who are hitting the mark in the NBA:
Born in Los Angeles, California, Metu spent the early years of his life in his hometown before moving to Nigeria with his father when he was six years old. He then lived in his home country for the next six years and played football at the time. He took up basketball when he moved back to California, playing the sport in high school (known as high school here in Nigeria). He continued to play college basketball and made a name for himself with high-profile highlight blocks and dunks that were drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2018 NBA Draft. his NBA debut, Metu signed with the Sacramento Kings, earning a multi-year deal in 2021 after making 28 appearances. Away from the Kings, Metu has been included in Nigeria’s final roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. He also competed in the Summer Olympics for Nigeria.
The 22-year-old was born in Port Harcourt to Nigerian parents of Igbo descent. Like many local boys, he grew up playing football until he focused on basketball after attending a Giants of Africa basketball camp. He quickly fell in love with the game and soon moved to the United States with the help of his brother, God-given Achiuwa, who played basketball at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. In the United States, Achiuwa played basketball for St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey, which had a nationally ranked basketball program. An impressive freshman season earned him AAC Player of the Year and Freshman honors; it also helped Achiuwa achieve his NBA dream as 20th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2020 draft. He signed a four-year contract worth more than $12.5 million from 2023 to 2024. Loop was wrapped up for him after being traded to the Toronto Raptors, currently managed by Masai Ujiri, who is also the founder of Giants of Africa. Achiuwa played with the Nigerian national team, competing for his home country in the Summer Olympics.
Aminu (the leader) and his Olympian brother, Alade, are princes. Their parents, Aboubakar Aminu and Anjirlic Aminu, are descendants of Nigerian kings. His career began after being drafted No. 8 overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2010 NBA draft. Aminu has since played for the New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls. Tearing the meniscus in his right knee in December 2019 kept him out of the field. He was signed with the Orlando Magic at the time of his injury, which required arthroscopic surgery and caused him to miss 27 games early in the season. He returned last year against the Portland Trailblazers. Away from the NBA, Aminu represents the Nigerian national basketball team-D’Tigers. He played for Nigeria at the London Olympics in 2012. He was also part of the team that won the country’s first-ever FIBA Africa (AfroBasket) Championship in Tunisia in 2015 beating Angola 74 -65. His performance earned him a name as one of the 2015 Afrobasket All-Star Five.
He was born on September 9, 1998 in Buffalo, New York to an American mother and a Nigerian father, Alexander Nwora, who was a basketball coach. Naturally, Jordan fell in love with the game, developing his basketball skills with the help of his father. Nwora played basketball at Amherst Central High School in the 2013-14 season, before transferring to Park School of Buffalo for two seasons. He made his NBA debut in 2020 after being selected with the 45th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. He suffered an ankle injury in 2021 which did not prevent him from winning the NBA championship with the Bucks after the team defeated the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals. Nwora also plays with the national team Nigeria men’s basketball. He made history with his father when they became the first Nigerian son and father to represent a Nigerian national team at the same time in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Lagos, Nigeria. His father was the head coach at the time. Nwora became the most successful Nigerian player in history, breaking Ike Diogu’s record by 31 points in the same qualifier. The following year, he played with the local team at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
This NBA star was born on December 6, 1994 in Athens, Greece to Nigerian parents. Antetokounmpo’s career started when he started playing basketball for Filathlitikos youth teams in Athens. In 2011, he was playing for the club’s senior team before entering the 2013 NBA Draft, where he was selected 15th overall and currently plays for the Milwaukee BucksBucks. He led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories in 2016-17 and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five stats of total points, rebounds, assists, interceptions and blockages. On September 19, 2016, Antetokounmpo agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract extension with the Rising Bucks and quickly earned MVP recognition (2018–20). Beginning with the 2018–19 season, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks enjoyed a period of sustained team success. He is on the NBA’s highest-paid players list of 2019 with a total earning of $43.2 million. Antetokounmpo’s dual nationality combined with his height, speed and ball-handling abilities earned him the nickname “greek monster”. He re-signed with the Bucks on December 15, 2020, agreeing to a 5-year, $228 million extension, the largest in league history. In the 2021 All-Star Game, he played on the team managed by James and scored 35 points on a perfect 16-of-16 shot from the field to lead the team to a 170–150 victory and became the first non-American to win the All-Star MVP. Antetokounmpo became a minority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball on August 20, 2021.