December 02, 2023

Melo, Dirk, Pau, Luis, Yao: Who had the best FIBA career?

Melo, Dirk, Pau, Luis, Yao: Who had the best FIBA career?
Art by Royce Nicdao

With the FIBA World Cup draw set tomorrow, several NBA legends have made their way to Manila to grace the highly-anticipated event.

Among those NBA legends are Dirk Nowitzki, Luis Scola, Yao Ming, and Andre Kirilenko.

It is also best not to forget about the other two ambassadors for the FIBA World Cup in Pau Gasol and Carmelo Anthony.

All of these former NBA pros were definitely at the top of their game, but when you put their FIBA résumés against one another, who could possibly come out on top? 

Carmelo Anthony

There’s a reason one of Anthony’s nicknames was “FIBA Melo.”

Anthony was one the most prolific members of Team USA, and he seemingly did it all with the US national team.

But counting out his Olympic appearances, Melo appeared in only two FIBA events: the FIBA World Cup in 2006 and the FIBA AmeriCup in 2007.

In those two competitions, Melo would bring home the bronze and gold medals, respectively.

In short, Anthony knows what it takes to win big international events. 

Dirk Nowitzki

Every NBA fan knows Nowitzki’s storied career in the NBA. But not everyone knows how much of a beast he was when he donned Germany’s jersey.

Nowitzki, who first arrived in Manila on Wednesday, competed in four EuroBasket tournaments and two FIBA World Cups.

The Dallas Mavericks legend would bring home a bronze medal from the FIBA World Cup in 2002 and a silver medal in the EuroBasket in 2005.

Aside from winning team accolades, Nowitzki also won several individual awards, including the FIBA World Cup MVP in 2002 and the FIBA EuroBasket MVP in 2005. He also finished as the FIBA World Cup Top Scorer in 2002 and 2006 and the FIBA EuroBasket Top Scorer in 2001, 2005, and 2007.

Impressive, right?

Pau Gasol

Like Nowitzki, Gasol seemingly did it all both in the NBA and in FIBA tournaments.

Gasol competed for Spain in five EuroBasket tournaments and three FIBA World Cups.

There’s a reason Gasol is considered as one of the best—if not the best—Spanish basketball players in history.

Gasol's extensive list of achievements in FIBA competition includes winning the FIBA World Cup in 2006 as well as three FIBA EuroBasket titles, earning the MVP award in 2009 and 2015.

If you’re looking for advice on winning in the FIBA World Cup, Pau is definitely the guy to ask.

Luis Scola

If there’s a former NBA player who seemingly had a better career when playing internationally, that would probably be Scola.

The Argentinian big man had a solid NBA career, but that was nothing compared to the accomplishments he had with the national team.

Most notably, he won two silver medals in the five FIBA World Cup tournaments he competed in with Argentina. On top of that, Scola won two golds, four silvers, and three bronze medals in the FIBA AmeriCup.

Scola was also hailed as the MVP and Top Scorer for several of these competitions.

Yao Ming

Arugably the biggest and most important players in Asian basketball’s history is Yao.

Yao pretty much opened the gates for Asian hoopers to enter the NBA. But while everyone pretty much followed Yao’s career in the NBA, he also had a solid career playing for China.

Yao was dominant as ever whenever he competed in the FIBA Asia Cup, bringing home three gold medals in the process. Yao would also  competed in two FIBA World Cup tournaments.

Aside from his success on the court, it was Yao’s influence off the court that definitely made the biggest difference.

Melo, Dirk, Pau, Luis, and Yao. Who you got?