Getting to the NBA is really tough. Staying there is even harder.
There are only about 450 rosters spots in NBA, and each year brings a new class of talented rookies looking to steal one. As such, a number of high-profile players get bounced from the league on a regular basis. Though they might fall out of the limelight, they don’t disappear. Many head to places like Italy, China or Spain to continue their playing careers. In many of these cases, the players go on to have spectacular careers and become legends. Here are seven washed-up NBA players who went on to dominate overseas.
1. Andray Blatche
Andray Blatche was an absolute force during his high school days.
During a post-graduate year at South Kent School in South Kent, Connecticut, he averaged 27.5 points, 16 rebounds and 6 blocks per game. His play earned him a five-star rating from Rivals and offers from college powerhouses like UConn, Georgetown and Syracuse. However, Blatche decided to jump straight from high school to the NBA. The Washington Wizards picked him in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft, and Blatche spent the next seven seasons with the team. His best season came in the 2010-2011 campaign, when he averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
After the Wizards, Blatche spent a couple of seasons with the Brooklyn Nets before becoming an unrestricted free agent. He then signed with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association and promptly posted a monstrous season that included 31.1 points, 14.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.8 assists per game. That earned him the largest deal in CBA history—a three-year, $7.5 million contract with Xianjing. He had another stellar campaign last season and will undoubtedly be the team’s star player once again this year.
2. Lester Hudson
Lester Hudson’s basketball career has taken him all over the world. At UT Martin, he became the first men’s Division I basketball player to record a quadruple-double. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft.
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Since then, he has had stints with six different NBA teams, but the CBA is where he has really shined. He won the league’s MVP award in 2014 and 2015. He’s a five-time CBA All-Star. Now with the Liaoning Flying Leopards, Lester averaged 28.9 points, 5.7 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game last season. Watch the video above to see his duel with Stephon Marbury during the 2014 CBA Finals is one of the most memorable moments in league history.
3. Stephon Marbury
Unlike most of the players on this list, Stephon Marbury had a memorable NBA career. The No. 4 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, he went on to become a two-time All-Star during his 13-year NBA career. When he was offered a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum by the Boston Celtics in 2009, Marbury decided to pursue other options. He wound up in the CBA, where he remains to this day.
After short stints with the Shanxi Zhonguy Brave Dragons and the Foshan Dralions, Marbury joined the Beijing Ducks in 2011. He’s since led the squad to three CBA Championships, immortalizing him to Beijing fans. The team even erected a statue of Marbury outside their arena:
Marbury’s had many memorable games in the CBA, but few compare to the time he dropped 52 and 10 in a 2012 playoff game in the video above.
4. Andrew Goudelock
Perhaps you remember Andrew Goudelock as the guy who looked like he shouldn’t be playing in the NBA during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Goudelock appeared in 40 regular season games during that 2011-2012 season, but only managed to average 4.4 points and .5 assists per game.
After spending much of the next season in the D-League, Goudelock took his talents overseas. His first stop was in Russia with BC UNICS, where he won the league MVP after averaging 20.1 points per game. He then spent two seasons with Fenerbahce, a team in the Turkish basketball league, where he led the team in scoring throughout his tenure. He then hooked up with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the CBA and averaged 22.1 points per game. This season, he’ll be playing with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
5. Anthony Parker
After being drafted with the 21st overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Anthony Parker posted some mediocre seasons in Philly and Orlando. In 2000, he decided that playing overseas was his best option. For the next six years, he built a legacy with Maccabi Tel Aviv, a team based in Tel Aviv, Israel. He led the team to two EuroLeague championships and was twice named EuroLeague MVP. He was recently inducted into the Maccabi Tel Aviv Hall of Fame. Above is a video the team produced to honor Parker.
After leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2006, Parker returned to the NBA and had multi-season stints with the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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6. Rudy Fernandez
Rudy Fernandez had a memorable four-year stint in the NBA. Portland Trailblazer fans will remember him most for his rim-rattling jams:
But both before and after Fernandez’s NBA tenure (which spanned from 2008 to 2012), he played for Real Madrid in his native Spain. There, he was a four-time All-ACB player, a three-time Spanish King’s Cup MVP, a Spanish Supercup MVP and a two-time All-EuroLeague first-team performer. Fernandez also helped Real Madrid reach three straight EuroLeague title games between 2012 and 2015.
7. Jimmer Fredette
Calling Jimmer Fredette a CBA legend is a little premature considering he’s yet to play an official game with the Shanghai Sharks. However, it seems highly unlikely that Jimmer won’t dominate this season. The lights-out shooter recently hung 33 points on the Houston Rockets during an international exhibition game:
Jimmer might not last long in the CBA—he’s got enough talent for an NBA team to pick him up in the near future. Meantime, expect him to post dazzling numbers for as long as his CBA career lasts.
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