Individual Nigerians in the NBA
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon
Now retired, this native Nigerian played for the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors for 18 years. On and off the court he displayed such grace that fans nicknamed him “the Dream.” His seven feet height made him perfect for his position as center. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and received 21 awards, including 2-time NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP for 1994–1995.
Al-Farouq Aminu was born in the United States and is one of the two Nigerian NBA players still active. His basketball career began when he was in high school, then playing at Wake College before beginning his professional career with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010. Since then, he has been a member of three other teams, the most being the Portland Trail Blazers. Aminu has received such awards as the All-Star Five of the 2015 Afrobasket and has made four lists, with the ranks given in parentheses:
- Best Portland Trail Blazers of All Time (54/80)
- Greatest African NBA Players of All Time (9/25)
- Best Foreign NBA Players (54/101)
- Best NBA Small Forwards of the 2010s (22/30)
His full name is Chukwuemeka Ndubuisi Okafor, and his parents are native Nigerians. He played in high school, college and became a professional player for the Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards. Among his twelve awards are NCAA Champion (2004) and NBA Rookie of the Year (2005).
Ezeli was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States when he was young. During his high school years, he played basketball in both countries. He currently plays for the Santa Cruz Warriors where he won his first NBA championship in 2015 and has won Second-Team All SEC (2011).
So far, one Nigerian has been elected to the NBA Hall of Fame, and several others have become star members of the league and won numerous awards. Their accomplishments will place Nigeria high on the international sports arena, an area in which Nigeria is only beginning to make her presence known.