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ternational influence
Further information: List of foreign NBA players
Following pioneers like Vlade Divac (Serbia) and Dražen Petrović (Croatia) who joined the NBA in the late 1980s, an increasing number of international players have moved directly from playing elsewhere in the world to starring in the NBA. Below is a short list of foreign players who have won NBA awards or have been otherwise recognized for their contributions to basketball, either currently or formerly active in the league:

Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Lithuania – 2014 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. First Soviet Union and one of the very first Europeans to sign contract with NBA club and to play solidly in the league, helping to lead the way for the internationalization of the league in the late 1990s.
Toni Kukoč, Croatia – 3-time NBA Champion with Chicago Bulls (1996, 1997, 1998), named in 2008 as one of the 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
Vlade Divac, Serbia – 2-time Olympic silver medalist, 2001 NBA All-Star, 2-time World Champion, 3-time European Champion, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
Arvydas Sabonis, Lithuania – 2011 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1995, 1999 European Player of the Year, 1985, 1997 Mr. Europa Player of the Year, Olympic gold medalist in 1988 with the Soviet Union and bronze medalist in 1992 and 1996 with Lithuania, 1996 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
Dirk Nowitzki, Germany – NBA Champion with Dallas Mavericks (2011), MVP of the 2002 World Championships and Eurobasket 2005, member of the all-tournament team in the 2002 FIBA World Championship, 2002–2006 and 2011 Euroscar winner, 2005 Mr. Europa, 2005 and 2011 FIBA Europe Player of the Year, 2007 NBA MVP, 2011 Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, 2006 NBA Three-Point Shootout champion and 11-time NBA All-Star (entered the NBA in 1998)
Hedo Türkoğlu, Turkey – 2008 Most Improved Player Award winner, member of the all-tournament team in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (entered the NBA in 2000)
Pau Gasol, Spain – 2-time NBA Champion with Los Angeles Lakers (2009 & 2010), Three time NBA All-Star, 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2004 and 2009 Mr. Europa, 2006 World Championships MVP, 2008 and 2009 Euroscar and FIBA Europe Player of the Year, EuroBasket 2009 MVP, winner of the NBA Citizenship Award in 2012 (entered the NBA in 2001)
Andrei Kirilenko, Russia – EuroBasket 2007 MVP, 2007 FIBA Europe Player of the Year (drafted in 1999, played in the NBA from 2001–11 before returning to Russia due to the lockout, returned in 2012 as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.)
Tony Parker, France – 4-time NBA Champion with the Spurs, 2007 NBA Finals MVP and 2007 Euroscar winner (entered the NBA in 2001)
Manu Ginóbili, Argentina – 4-time NBA Champion with San Antonio Spurs, 2008 Sixth Man Award winner, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors, gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics with Argentina (drafted in 1999, entered the NBA in 2002)
Yao Ming, China – First pick in the 2002 NBA Draft and 7-time NBA All-Star (played in the NBA from 2002–2011)
Leandro Barbosa, Brazil – 2007 Sixth Man Award winner (entered the NBA in 2003)
Andrea Bargnani, Italy – First pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors (entered the NBA in 2006)
On some occasions, young players, most but not all from the English-speaking world, have attended U.S. colleges before playing in the NBA. Notable examples are:

Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon (top draft pick in 1984, 2-time champion, 12-time All-Star, 1994 MVP, 1994 and 1995 Finals MVP, 1994 and 1995 Defensive Player of the Year, only player to receive the MVP Award, Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Finals MVP award in the same season, and Hall of Famer)
Congolese Dikembe Mutombo (Four time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, selected fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft and 8-time NBA All-Star)
Dutchman Rik Smits (1988 second overall pick, 1998 NBA All-Star, played 12 years for the Indiana Pacers)
German Detlef Schrempf (Sixth Man Award winner in 1991 and 1992, 3-time All-Star)
Canadian Steve Nash (2005 and 2006 MVP)
Australians Luc Longley (3-time champion with the Bulls in the 1990s) and Andrew Bogut, (top draft pick in 2005).
Sudanese-born Englishman Luol Deng (2007 winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award)
Since 2006, the NBA has faced Euroleague teams in exhibition matches in the NBA Europe Live Tour and since 2009 in the Euroleague American Tour.

The 2013–14 season opened with a record 92 international players on the opening night rosters, representing 39 countries and comprising over 20% of the league[25] The NBA defines "international" players as those born outside the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. This means that:

Players born in U.S. possessions such as Puerto Rico and the U.S., Virgin Islands, most notably USVI native Tim Duncan, are counted as "international" even though they are U.S. citizens by birth, and may even have represented the U.S. in international competition (like Duncan).
U.S.-born players are not counted as "international" even if they were born with citizenship in another country and represent that country internationally, such as Joakim Noah.
Other developments
In 2001, an affiliated minor league, the National Basketball Development League, now called the NBA Development League (or D-League) was created.[26] Before the league was started, there were strong rumors that the NBA would purchase the Continental Basketball Association, and call it its developmental league.

In 2004, two years after the Hornets' relocation to New Orleans, the NBA returned to North Carolina as the Charlotte Bobcats were formed as an expansion team.

In 2005, the Hornets relocated to Oklahoma City for two seasons because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, the Hornets returned to New Orleans.

On June 28, 2006, a new official game ball was introduced for the 2006–07 season, marking the first change to the ball in over 35 years and only the second ball in 60 seasons.[27] Manufactured by Spalding, the new ball featured a new design and new synthetic material that Spalding claimed offered a better grip, feel, and consistency than the original ball. However, many players were vocal in their disdain for the new ball, saying that it was too sticky when dry, and too slippery when wet.

On December 11, 2006, Commissioner Stern announced that beginning January 1, 2007, the NBA would return to the traditional leather basketball in use prior to the 2006–07 season. The change was influenced by frequent player complaints and confirmed hand injuries (cuts) caused by the microfiber ball.[28] The Players' Association had filed a suit in behalf of the players against the NBA over the new ball.[29] As of 2006, the NBA team jerseys are manufactured by Adidas, which purchased the previous supplier, Reebok.

On July 19, 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games he officiated over the past two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in those games.[30] On August 15, 2007, Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to the investigation. However, he could face additional charges if it is determined that he deliberately miscalled individual games. Donaghy claimed in 2008 that certain refs were friendly with players and "company men" for the NBA. Donaghy alleged that refs influenced the outcome of certain playoff and finals games in 2002 and 2005. NBA commissioner David Stern denied the allegations and said Donaghy was a convicted felon and a "singing, cooperating witness".[31] Donaghy served 15 months in prison and was released in November 2009.[32] According to an independent study by Ronald Beech of Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, although the refs increased the Lakers' chances of winning through foul calls during the game, there was no collusion to fix the game. On alleged "star treatment" during Game 6 by the refs toward certain players, Beech claimed, "there does seem to be issues with different standards and allowances for different players." [33]

On July 2, 2008, it was announced that the Seattle SuperSonics would relocate to Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Thunder began playing in the 2008–09 season.

On October 11, 2008, the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets played the first outdoor game in the modern era of the NBA at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.[34]

On September 1, 2009, the contract between the NBA and its referees expired, creating a referee lockout. On October 1, 2009, the first preseason games were played and replacement referees from the WNBA and NBA Development League were used. The last time replacement referees were used was the beginning of the 1995–96 season.[35] The NBA and the regular referees reached a deal on October 23, 2009.[36]

In 2011, the first official NBA league games on European ground took place. In two matchups, the New Jersey Nets faced the Toronto Raptors in London's O2 Arena in front of over 20,000 fans.

In July 2011, the NBA laid off around 114 league employees (about 11 percent of all the league office workforce) to save money.[37]

The 2011–12 NBA season, scheduled to begin November 1, 2011, with a matchup between the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls, was postponed due to a labor dispute. The lockout officially ended on December 8, 2011, when players and owners ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, and the season began on Christmas Day.

On April 30, 2012, the New Jersey Nets officially changed their name to the Brooklyn Nets. They began playing in the New York City borough of Brooklyn in the 2012–13 season.

In October 2012, the NBA announced that it would begin fining players for flopping.[38]

After the 2012–13 season, the New Orleans Hornets renamed themselves the Pelicans. During the 2013–14 season, Stern retired as commissioner after 30 years, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver ascended to the position of commissioner. During that season's playoffs, the Bobcats officially reclaimed the Hornets name, and by agreement with the league and the Pelicans, also received sole ownership of all history, records, and statistics from the Pelicans' time in Charlotte. As a result, the Hornets are now officially considered to have been founded in 1988, suspended operations in 2002, and resumed in 2004 as the Bobcats, while the Pelicans are officially treated as a 2002 expansion team.[39] (This is somewhat similar to the relationship between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in the NFL.)

In April 2014 Donald Sterling, an NBA owner at the time, received a lifetime ban from the NBA after racist remarks he made became public.

On August 5, 2014, Becky Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach, becoming the second female coach in NBA history but the first full-time coach.[40] This also makes her the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports in North America.[40]

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