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Growing French presence in NBA

Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT) November 24, 2015
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When you think of France and basketball, Tony Parker is probably the first name that comes to mind. Al Bello/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
As a six-time NBA All-Star, the San Antonio Spurs point guard has raised the profile of basketball in France, a country that adores its football and tennis. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
He was named France's athlete of the year in 2003 by influential French sports newspaper L'Equipe, the only basketball player to ever win the award. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Joakim Noah is a dual U.S. and French citizen, and has represented France in international competition. The Chicago Bulls center checked on his father, former tennis pro Yannick Noah, after the Paris attacks in November. Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Charlotte Hornets star Nicolas Batum has a sister who lived in an area affected by the Paris attacks. Here he is pictured right with footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic before a Paris Saint-Germain game in 2013. Kenzo Triboullard/AFP/Getty Images/file
Heading into the new NBA season, France accounts for the most players in the competition apart from the U.S. and Canada. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, like Parker, is a star. GEORGE FREY/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Gobert, a 7-foot-1-inch center, was named the 39th best NBA player for 2016 in a predictive piece by respected U.S. magazine Sports Illustrated. JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
France won the European basketball championships in 2013 after beating Lithuania in the final in Slovenia. AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
This year, with six players affiliated with NBA teams, it finished third, losing to eventual champion Spain in overtime in the semifinals. Spain's NBA standout Pau Gasol, right, was named tournament MVP. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Going back two decades, Tariq Abdul-Wahad became the first French player to play in the NBA in 1997 and he spent six seasons in basketball's most prestigious league. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
In earlier days, the craze for Converse shoes helped to boost basketball's popularity in France. Markus Boesch/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Michael Jordan -- a Hall of Famer and five-time MVP who spent most of his career with the Chicago Bulls -- was another factor in basketball's global growth. His shoes, the famous Nike Air Jordans, transcended the sport into youth culture both in the U.S. and internationally. BRIAN BAHR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images