11 Talented NBA Players from the Caribbean (Or Whose Parents Were)
Tim Duncan, St. Croix
Duncan actually wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, but Hurricane Hugo put an end to those plans when it destroyed the only Olympic-sized swimming pool in St. Croix in 1989. Duncan then turned to basketball when his family moved to the United States when he was in the ninth grade. He earned a scholarship to Wake Forest, where he became an All-American and was the No. 1 NBA Draft choice in 1997 by the San Antonio Spurs. There, he became a Hall of Famer with five championship rings, including the 2013-14 title. He’s hoping for another title run this season.
Patrick Ewing, Jamaica
Ewing was born in Kingston and played soccer and cricket there until he was 12, when his family moved to Cambridge, Mass., near Boston. It was clear Ewing was not comfortable in his skin as a high school player who was taller than most everyone he encountered in America and had a Jamaican accent. But he became the No. 1 college prospect in the country. Ewing signed with Georgetown, where he was closely guarded by coach John Thompson and grew into a confident young man who went on to become one of the all-time great players and Pro Basketball Hall of Famer. He’s an assistant coach for the Charlotte Bobcats and hopes to become a head coach soon.
Olden Polynice, Haiti
Born in Port-Au-Prince, Polynice moved to the Bronx, New York, at a young age and became a force on the basketball court for All Hallows High. He went on to the University of Virginia in college, where he established himself as an NBA prospect. He was selected in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft and played 15 seasons as a pro between five teams. He now runs a basketball camp for talented high school players.
Carl Herrera, Trinidad
Although born and raised in Trinidad, Herrera played professionally at 17 for the Venezuela national team and is a citizen of that country. He later was drafted by the Miami Heat in 1990 and played nine season in the NBA as a key reliable reserve for the Houston Rockets, who he helped win consecutive championship in 1994 and ’95. He returned to play professionally after the 1999 NBA season and coaches in the Venezuela league now. Last month, he was shot during an apparent robbery attempt at a restaurant on Margarita Island off Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. His condition improved recently from intensive care to stable.
Al Horford, Dominican Republic
Born on an island more known for producing Major League Baseball players, Horford followed his dad, Tito, into basketball and burst upon the scene as a star at Florida in college, where he won two National Championships. In the NBA, he has been a solid and reliable player for the Atlanta Hawks, and likely will make this year’s NBA All-Star team for the third time in his stellar seven-year career.
Andrew Wiggins, Barbados
Wiggins, the reigning No. 1 pick of the NBA Draft, was born in Canada to Mitchell Wiggins, a former NBA player, and Marita Payne-Wiggins, who is originally from Barbados. The younger Wiggins was the top-ranked high school player before going to Kansas, where he played one season before jumping to the league. He was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he is showing flashes of amazing talent.
Raja Bell, Virgin Islands
Bell was a tough, defensive-minded guard who made his name aggressively defending Kobe Bryant during rugged playoff series between his Phoenix Suns and Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers. Bell was a fiery competitor and a first team all defense in 2007.
Ronny Turiaf, Martinique
The well-traveled Turiaf was born in Martinique, went to high school in Paris and college at Gonzaga in Washington state. As an NBA player, Turiaf was a well-liked, hard-working reserve who made the most of his talent through effort. He played for seven teams in nine seasons and earned an NBA championship while coming off the bench to help the Los Angeles Lakers take the 2012 title. He recently opened the Empowerment Center of the Ronny Turiaf Heart to Heart Foundation in Los Angeles, a place where kids, teens and young adults can go to engage in positive activities, learn leadership skills, study, and learn about healthy living, nutrition and heart health. The center will encourage kids and teens to interact with one another and create relationships that are free of racism and discrimination.
Andre Drummond, Jamaica
This talented big man was born in Connecticut to Jamaican parents. He starred for a season with UConn before bolting to the NBA, where he is showing potential to be a star as a rebounder and defender.
Roy Hibbert, Trinidad/Jamaica
The Indiana Pacers’ center was born in New York to a Jamaican father and mother from Trinidad. He starred at Georgetown before being the No. 17 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Twice he has made the all-star team with the Pacers.
Ben Gordon, Jamaica
The long-time shooting guard who starred at UConn was born in England to Jamaican parents. His best NBA seasons were with the first five in the league with the Chicago Bulls, where he averaged 15.5, 16.9, 21.4, 18.6 and 20.7 points a game.