Although many notable players in the NBA have been European, surprisingly, only three have been Swedish. Here is an insightful overview of those three players’ careers.
The Three Swedish Players in the NBA
Miles Simon was born in 1975 in Stockholm to a Norwegian mother and an American father. He began playing guard for the University of Arizona Wildcats team, where he formed an incredible backcourt duo with the formidable Mike Bibby. At the 1997 NCAA Tournament, in which Arizona won the national championship, Simon was named the Most Outstanding Player.
After college, Simon played five games with Orlando Magic in the 1999 NBA season, and then two seasons for the Dakota Wizards in the CBA. Simon led Dakota to victory at the CBA championship in 2002. In fact, he earned so many awards and honors in 2001 and 2002, that Simon became the most decorated player in the history of the CBA. The many accolades included Player of the Week four times, Playoff MVP, and Newcomer of the Year.
In 2017, Simon joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant coach. His finest moment as a coach came in 2020 when he led the Lakers in their defeat against the Miami Heat in six games at the NBA Finals. Whether the Lakers can achieve that feat in this year’s NBA finals remains to be seen. But it is not too early to look up odds online to help you make an early prediction about which team will be victorious.
After Miles Simon, Jonas Jerebko became the second Swedish-born basketball player to be selected in the NBA draft when the Detroit Pistons selected him in 2009. Born in the Swedish locality of Kinna in 1987, Jerebko excelled at basketball as a child. In 2005, he signed to play basketball at the University of Buffalo, but he soon gave up his scholarship to pursue a professional career. Jerebko started playing for the second-tiered Swedish team Borås Basket in the 2005–06 season. The following year, he joined the first-tier club Plannja Basket. In 2007, he joined the Italian club Angelico Biella, where he stayed for two seasons before trying his luck in the States.
In May 2009, the ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla named Jerebko as one of the top five European prospects in that year’s draft. He was then picked by the Detroit Pistons and the rest is history. He went on to play with Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, and Golden State Warriors. After ten seasons in the NBA, Jerebko moved to Russia to play for BC Khimki, where he stayed for two seasons. Jonas Jerebko has also played for the Swedish national team. He made his debut with the team when he was only eighteen years old.
Born in the Swedish city of Norrköping in 1989, Jeffery Taylor played college basketball for Vanderbilt University, before he was drafted in the 2012 NBA draft, as 31st overall, by the Charlotte Bobcats. He stayed with the Bobcats, who were later renamed the Hornets, until 2015, although he experienced a turbulent time during his years in the NBA.
In his first season with Charlotte Bobcats, Taylor scored his career-high with 16 points in a game against the Atlanta Hawks. But in December 2013, Taylor experienced a torn right Achilles tendon and missed the remainder of the season. It was a huge shame, as Taylor had been averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game. By 2015, Taylor had left the NBA and signed with the Spanish basketball team Real Madrid, in which he helped the club beat Fenerbahçe Doğuş to win the EuroLeague championship.