Le Magnifique: The 5 best French players in NBA history

Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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No. 5: Boris Diaw

The San Antonio Spurs connections continue, as Boris Diaw is one of a number of French basketball players to wear the silver and black. Boris Babacar Diaw-Riffiod was born in 1982 in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France. He entered the league in 2003, selected 20 picks after LeBron James by the Atlanta Hawks. His career was one of peaks and valleys, with strong seasons interspersed with inconsistent efforts.

His breakout season came in 2005-06, when he averaged 13.3 points, 6.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds for the Phoenix Suns, then upped his scoring to 18.7 points per game on a team that made the Western Conference Finals. The middle of his career was spent languishing in Charlotte on bad teams before the Spurs recused him in 2012.

Diaw then reinvented himself as a crafty role player on the Spurs' bench unit, playing hard and filling an important role on a number of great teams, including the Spurs' title-winning team in 2014. He capped off his career in Utah for one season in 2016-17, occasionally starting alongside French center Rudy Gobert and making the second round of the playoffs.

Of all of the players to pass through the Spurs, Diaw was unique in that he fully leaned into his hobbies and preference for the "finer things" in life, something he seems to share in common with head coach Gregg Popovich. Diaw famously had an espresso machine installed in his locker, went sailing during off periods, and helped to bring a layer of French culture to the NBA.