Jose Colorado

Helping basketball players achieve their pro dreams.

Overseas Basketball Salaries: Why Being Selfish In Professional Basketball Pays (2020)

Selfishness isn’t always a bad thing.

In fact, just think of your regular 9-5.

While yes, you’re an employee working for the overall growth of the company, you’re likely still encouraged by your bosses to excel as an individual.

“Think creatively.”

“Take initiative.”

“Lead by example.”

All of this comes under the dangling carrot of a potential promotion.

Overseas basketball is no different…kind of.

It can get a bit complicated.

So let me explain to you what years in professional basketball has taught me:

How being selfish can actually pay.

Let’s begin.

  1. overseas basketball: the paradox of selfishness in import players

  2. how to stay on a professional basketball team

  3. Why selfish pays in professional basketball

Overseas Basketball: the paradox of selfishness in import players

In my career, I’ve have seen roughly 500 imports come and go.

When speaking with them, their mindsets are almost always the same.

  1. Win a championship

  2. Get a higher paying job next season

  3. Put up big stats

Much like in a traditional workplace though, there are only so many resources that can go around.

On the basketball court, that means:

  • Shots

  • Touches

  • Playing time

Understand this:

You are in a paradox as an import player.

Basically, there are two options:

  1. Put up huge stats but risk being called selfish when things go bad.

  2. Play team ball but risk being told your stats aren’t good enough when things go bad

It’s a tight rope act.

And it’s also something that 99.9 per cent of players are completely unaware of when beginning their journeys.

Talk to any veteran pro player and they will tell you all type of wacky stories:

  • Players averaging 30ppg but being cut because locals weren’t developing enough

  • Players going on double-digit win streaks but being cut because they weren’t averaging enough points

  • Players being released because they were “boring” (i.e. not dunking enough, bringing in enough fans)

Complicating this issue even more is the team management at these professional clubs.

Typically, they know very little about basketball.

Instead they’re people with:

  1. The most money

  2. The most political influence (and wanting more by having a team)

  3. The biggest ego (they want people to see them as the Team President)

Don’t believe me?

I once told our Team President we needed an athletic Power Forward instead of a Point Guard import.

He asked, “What’s a Power Forward?”

He wasn’t joking.

how to stay on a professional basketball team

Remember those two options from earlier?

Put up huge stats but risk being called selfish when things go bad.

Play team ball but risk being told your stats aren’t good enough when things go bad.

Well, there is a third option but it is very rare:

  1. Maintain solid but not necessarily outstanding stats

  2. Maintain one of the best league records

  3. Help to mentor/develop the younger players

For this to work however you must win.

There really is no alternative.

In El Salvador - where imports are expected to average massive numbers due to the weaker local talent - I saw a great example of just this.

For privacy sake, we’ll call the player, Henry.

Henry was:

  • 6-9

  • 270 lbs

  • One of three imports on one of the best teams in the league

Yet he always seemed to fall a bit short of statistical expectations.

Nonetheless, he was the classic “winner.”

He did everything that didn’t show up in the stat sheet:

  • Box out

  • Get deflections

  • Set excellent screens

  • Communicate on defense

  • Mentor the young guys

  • Make the extra pass

His teammates loved him.

Yet following each game - without exception - there would be a mob of fans calling for his head because he had only posted a 12-10 (points, rebounds) stat line.

That was, until his team won their first title in league history.

Then suddenly everyone loved him.

Amazingly, the identical scenario played out on two separate occasions.

Eventually, Henry became a three-time champion in El Salvador before moving onto much bigger leagues, such as:

  • Argentina (TNA)

  • Tunisia (Championnat National A)

  • Vietnam (VBA)

  • Mexico (LNBP)

Fortunately this foreigner was allowed to make it to the finish line on each occasion.

Often that isn’t the case.


Fans and businesses hold huge power in professional basketball.

Professional teams in the mid to low tier levels depend on both groups financial support desperately.

Knowing this, it isn’t uncommon for entire sections of die-hard fans to stop attending games completely if they are upset with player selections.

Equally as damaging is when sponsorship partners pull their support altogether.

This happened at my team three years ago as we were underachieving.

Our food sponsorship was gone by mid-season and the team was left scrambling to cover costs.

why selfish pays in professional basketball

The bottom line?

If I had to choose between being selfish or a team guy, I’d pick selfish likely 8/10 times.


  1. Everyone notices points, not everyone notices rebounds, assists etc.

  2. Team Presidents often don’t understand basketball

  3. Because of that, clubs - if given a choice of sending two people home - will very often give preference to high-scorers over “team guys”

  4. Fans often don’t understand basketball

  5. But fans still have a lot of power in who goes and who stays; they prefer scorers

  6. Volume scorers are highly valued in many “money regions” (i.e. Latin America, Asia, Middle East)

  7. You’ll have more material to work with in your highlight tape/resume

Final key point:

Europe and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) are in separate categories when discussing all this.

That’s because they play in a much more disciplined and structured system than other parts of the world.

Efficiency and ball movement is maximized in these regions so your high-volume scoring won’t count for much for them.

Think of it like an immigrant lawyer who comes to Canada.

When he arrives here, he must re-do law school and retake his bar exam to be able to legally practice in Canada.

So unless you are putting up numbers in European leagues then you’ll likely have to start from ground zero if wanting to make the jump across the water.

But also remember:

Unless you are in the top European levels you will really be grinding it out for table scraps for a few years before you hit any type of respectable money (i.e. 2000USD+).

In comparison, even in the middle tier leagues in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, professional basketball players can expect to make anywhere from 6k-20k per month.

What is your experience as an import player?

How have your Team Owners valued your contributions?

Let me know below by commenting!

Jose Colorado, professional basketball player, talks how hard overseas basketball is.

Jose Colorado is a five-year professional basketball player helping others achieve their goals of pro basketball through a proven, research-based approach.