NBA

NBA All-Star Game 2021: Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic hopes to inspire next generation of international basketball players

The world will be well-represented in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.

Of the 28 players who have been selected to be this season's All-Stars, nine are from outside of the United States.

From the Western Conference, there's Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert (France), Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (Slovenia) and Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic (Serbia).

From the Eastern Conference, there's Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (Australia) and centre Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Indiana Pacers centre Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania), Kyrie Irving (Australia) and Orlando Magic centre Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro).

Prior to the game, Jokic spoke about how the nine of them can serve as inspiration for the next generation of international basketball players.

"I think that's the beauty," Jokic responded when asked how cool it is to see how much the game has grown with four international players starting in the 2021 All-Star Game.

"Even when you see the whole All-Star (roster), we have a lot of players not from USA. Vucevic, Sabonis, Embiid ... Ben Simmons. I think something that we are showing (is) there's a lot more talent in the world. It's not just USA. I think that's the beauty. We are giving all the kids a chance or opportunity to see that they can make NBA, they can make All-Star.

"We are hopefully living some dreams of some kids."

The NBA has become a very international league in general. As announced prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, there were 107 international players from 41 countries on opening-night rosters, with all 30 teams having at least one international player.

Canada (17 players) was the most well-represented country outside of the United States, followed by France (nine players) and Australia (nine players).

It marked the seventh straight season in which at least 100 international players were on opening-night rosters.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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