When someone made me that question i thought in the great players of the URSS and Yugoslavia in the 50´s, 60´s, and 70´s like belov, korac, dalipagic, tkachenko and from other countries like meneghin, giannakis, corbalan, emiliano rodriguez, fernando martin... ; but I think that is in the middle of the 80´s when the european basketball began to shine.
This is my list:
I wait your comments.
I wish Sabonis had played in the NBA all his career. I think he would have went down as one of the best centers. He still had a great career coming in at the age he did. Great list. Rubio could make the list after his career is said and done.
Well, if we have to judge their NBA success, the list shouldn't include Paspalj, Radja, Djordjevic, who played little in the NBA, or Bodiroga, who never did it.
Yet, if you also include their success in Europe, I think there are also other players to be included. First of all Danilovic, Jasikevicius, Rigaudeau, Rebraca, Kutluay, Turkcan, Garbajosa, who had little success in the NBA, but were great in Europe. Also, I would include Navarro. For players who never got to the NBA, I would say Diamantidis, Papaloukas, &$#%#&@!a, Smodis...for sure I'm forgetting somebody here.
Next generation, I don't know. After all these guys (the youngest is Parker, born 1982), we're searching for a true European star.
Kirilenko was near to that (he's been All-Star in 2004). Right now the closest thing to that could be Pau's brother Marc. Also, there are good players who in the right situation could become All-Stars someday (Gallinari, Batum, Casspi, Beaubois, Biedrins, Ilyasova, Bargnani, Kleiza), even if only for one or two years. Yet we're waiting for some serious stuff:
Rubio could be really good. I think he could play NBA ball, but it's too early to say right now...