Bulgaria is not known for its NBA pedigree, as there is only one natural Bulgarian to be drafted by the NBA. The greatest basketball achievement of Bulgaria to this day is winning the Balkan Championship in 1950, and earning Runners-Up at the 1957 Euro Basket Championship.
Active Bulgarian NBA Players
Aleksandar Vezenkov (Active as of the last update in April 2023)
- Teams: Sacramento Kings
- Bio: Aleksandar ‘Sasha’ Vezenkov, also known as Sasha Vezenkov, is a professional basketball player who has Bulgarian and Cypriot nationality. Noted for his scoring ability, versatility, and basketball IQ, Vezenkov has made a name for himself in European basketball. Before any association with the NBA, he played for Olympiacos and FC Barcelona in the EuroLeague, showcasing his skills on a continental stage. His potential NBA involvement would mark him as one of the few Bulgarian players to reach the league, emphasizing the growing influence of Bulgarian talents in international basketball.
Retired Bulgarian NBA Players
Georgi Glouchkov (Retired)
- Years Active: 1985-1986
- NBA Team: Phoenix Suns
- Bio: Georgi Glouchkov, the first Bulgarian player in the NBA, joined the Phoenix Suns for the 1985-1986 season. Known for his strength and rebounding, Glouchkov’s NBA career was brief but historic, paving the way for future Bulgarian athletes in basketball.
Priest Lauderdale (Retired)
- Years Active: 1996-1998
- NBA Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets
- Bio: Priest Lauderdale is a former Bulgarian-American NBA player who was known for his towering presence at 7’4″. He played for the Atlanta Hawks and the Denver Nuggets. Lauderdale’s career in the NBA was short-lived, but he made an impact with his size and abilities in the paint. After his time in the NBA, he continued to play professionally in various international leagues.
Cedric Simmons (Retired)
- Years Active: 2006-2009
- NBA Teams: New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls
- Bio: Cedric Simmons, although an American by birth, obtained Bulgarian citizenship in 2012, which makes him part of this list due to his representation of Bulgaria in international competitions. Simmons was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the 2006 NBA Draft. A forward/center, Simmons played in the NBA for teams including the Hornets, Cavaliers, and Bulls before continuing his professional career in various international leagues.
These players highlight the contributions of Bulgarian athletes to the NBA, showcasing a range of talents and career paths within the league. From Glouchkov’s pioneering entry into the NBA to Vezenkov’s potential to make his mark, each player has contributed to the growing legacy of Bulgarian basketball on the international stage.