Nene, born Maybyner Rodney Hilario, is a professional basketball player from Brazil who plays as a power forward or center. Nene began his sporting career in football, like most Brazilians, however having not received any notice from any professional clubs, he decided to take up basketball at the age of 14. He started playing professional basketball in 2000, beginning his career at the top level in Brazil with Barueri.
At the 2001 Goodwill Games, Nene was part of the Brazilian national team and for the first time, caught the attention of scouts and audiences across the basketball community. Nene played at Barueri between 2001 and 2002, before joining Vasco da Gama midway through the season. He appeared for the 2002 NBA Pre-Draft camp and impressed many, including the New York Knicks who decided to sign him up at 7th overall, at the 2002 NBA Draft.
Immediately after the draft, he was traded out to the Denver Nuggets where he began his first season on the bench. Nene played 80 games for the Nuggets and despite a slow start, soon became an integral part of the lineup and ended up starting 53 of those games after scoring at 10.5 points per game with 6.1 rebounds. His .519 shooting percentage placed him in the top ten across the NBA, in that category. It came as no surprise when he was picked for the NBA All-Rookie First Team at the All-Star Weekend.
The following year, Nene started all 77 games that he appeared in, scoring at 11.8 points per game with 2.2 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game. In 2004-05, his numbers dropped a bit as he played just 55 games at 9.6 points per game with 5.9 rebounds only. In 2005-06, Nene had a terrible start to the season where he injured his knee after falling awkwardly against the San Antonio Spurs, just 3 minutes after his introduction onto the court. The injury kept him out for the entire season.
Nene made his return to the court in 2006-07 and played 64 games while scoring at 12.2 per game. His rebounds per game shot up to 7 while his field goal percentage went up to .570. The following year, Nene was again struck by injury for most part of the year, making just 16 appearances with 1 start. He came back to the team in full strength in 2008-09 and had an incredible year.