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. 3: Joakim Noah

The only player on this list not to be born in France, Joakim Noah was born in New York, NY in 1985. His father was French tennis phenom Yannick Noah, while his mother was a former Miss Sweden. Noah spoke often about the impact of his multi-cultural background and upbringing. Despite his ties to multiple countries, Noah was always most strongly connected to France, and he competed for the French National Team.

After Noah won two national championships at the University of Florida, the Chicago Bulls drafted him with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. He developed from reserve center to snarling, leaping, attacking starting center Joakim Noah over the years, starring in the middle for Tom Thibodeau's perennial playoff teams.

Noah is the first player on this list to boast significant NBA award hardware, making it to two All-Star Teams and three All-Defense Teams. In 2013-14 Noah had his best season, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.7 STOCKS en route to an All-NBA selection and the Defensive Player of the Year award.

The end came quickly for Noah, as injuries caught up to him as he left the Bulls to sign a lucrative deal with the New York Knicks in the summer of 2016. He played two seasons but only 53 games with the Knicks, then another half-season in Memphis and five games with the LA Clippers before calling it quits.

Only Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert averaged more blocks per game among French players than Joakim Noah, and the same is true for rebounding. He announced his retirement in March of 2021 and serves as an ambassador for the Bulls.