How Many Bulgarians Have Played in the NBA?

Sports | August 2, 2021, Monday // 20:15
Bulgaria: How Many Bulgarians Have Played in the NBA?

Basketball is an international sport that grows in popularity every year. The sport started in the United States from an invention by James Naismith in 1861, and a couple of decades later, the sport was accepted by few local schools and the project basketball took off since then.

Nowadays, basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world reaching an estimated fan base of more than 500 million.

Since basketball started in the United States, it is safe to say that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has become the biggest, most competitive, and most elite basketball competition in the world.

With multi-billion-dollar arenas, huge salaries, and impressive basketball communities, this is truly one of the most popular sports in the world. This inspired many people to join the basketball culture writing books, movies, and TV series.

If you want more information, make sure you check out the Top 10 basketball movies.

Every athlete dreams about advancing into the NBA, but very few manage to reach this elite championship, especially from overseas. With that said, we decided to highlight some of the most popular basketball players from Bulgaria that got the chance to play in the NBA.

Cedric Simmons

His name doesn’t sound Bulgarian, and that has to do with the fact that Simmons is actually an American-born Bulgarian professional basketball player that currently plays for Olympiacos B.C.

Simmons was selected back in the 15th pick back in the 2006 NBA draft by New Orleans Hornets. After that, he managed to sign a deal with the Hornets where he played for a year, after moving to Cleveland Cavaliers. Later he was traded to Chicago Bulls in a three-team trade, which didn’t last long after going to the Sacrament Kings.

Georgi Gluchkov

Here we have another Bulgarian NBA legend that is currently retired. Georgi is born on 10 January 1960 and he managed to pull off a very successful career in the NBA league. The 6 ft 8in forward was the first athlete from an Eastern bloc country to get a chance to compete in the American National Basketball Association.

His career started playing for BC Balkan Botevgrad where a few years later he became the most successful basketball player from Europe averaging 23 points and 19 rebounds per game. This attracted the attention of the Phoenix Suns, who selected him in the seventh round of the 1985 NBA draft.

After a year in the NBA, his career started to take a downwards turn as he started gaining weight and his productivity significantly decreased.

Priest Lauderdale

Just like Simmons, Lauderdale is a retired American-Bulgarian basketball giant weighing 325 pounds and measuring 7ft 4in. His professional basketball career started in the Atlanta Hawks when he was selected in the 1996 NBA draft,

His NBA career was short-lived after moving on to the Denver Nuggets in the 97-98 season which wasn’t that successful. Later he decided to go to Bulgaria for three years where he became a Bulgarian citizen.

Aleksandar Vezenkov

Alexandar or otherwise known as ‘Alex’ is a professional basketball player that is born in Cyprus, but due to his Bulgarian descent, he was given citizenship and he represented the Bulgarian national team.

His professional basketball career started playing for Aris in the Greek League after he was named the Greek League Best Young Player in 2014. A year later he managed to win the league’s MVP, Best Young Player, and Most Improved Player awards.

This attracted the attention of FC Barcelona where he signed a four-year deal worth over million. Later he was selected as the 57th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft by Brooklyn Nets, and this year the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired his draft rights from the Nets.

Final Words

These are some of the most successful Bulgarian basketball players that managed to play in the big NBA league. Bulgaria is a country where basketball isn’t the primary sport, which explains why there are not many players coming from this area. With that said, they are working on building a stronger basketball community, so we will definitely expect more NBA players coming from Bulgaria in the future.


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