News / USA

International Players' Impact on NBA Grows in Past Two Decades

Washington Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich, right, reaches in against San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, left, of France, during an NBA basketball game in Washington, Feb 12, 2011
Washington Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich, right, reaches in against San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, left, of France, during an NBA basketball game in Washington, Feb 12, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Mariama Diallo

The number of foreign-born players in America's professional National Basketball Association has tripled in the past two decades. One of the veterans - San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker - and a rookie - Washington Wizards' Hamady Ndiaye - talk about their respective experiences as foreigners in the NBA.

For NBA fans, Tony Parker is a household name, a 10-year veteran on one of the best teams in the league. Hamady Ndiaye is a little-known rookie on a team that loses far more often than it wins. What these two players have in common is they both grew up outside of the United States.

Parker is fortunate to be playing for one of the National Basketball Association's best teams, the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs have won four NBA titles in the past 12 seasons and have high hopes for another one. Two-thirds of the way through the season they have the best record in the league, having won 84 percent of their games with a 46-9 mark through February 17.

They recently scored a lopsided win over the struggling Washington Wizards in the nation's capital. Although he scored the most points for the Spurs, Parker still credited the team.

"It was a great team win," said Parker. "The team played great, everybody contributed; so it was a great win."

He was drafted in 2001 when he was only 19 years old. In only his second season with San Antonio, the Spurs won their second NBA title - their first came in 1999 - and they added championships in 2005 and 2007, when Parker was named Most Valuable Player.

Parker was born in Belgium to a Dutch mother and an African-American father, but grew up in France, where football (soccer) is one of the most popular sports.

"When we grew up basketball was in our family. We were big Chicago Bulls fans because my dad is from Chicago, so we always played basketball. That was the main sport in the family."

Parker's father played professional basketball in Europe and one of his two brothers currently plays in France.  

He says basketball is one of the reasons he loves living in the United States and he's happy in San Antonio, Texas. "I am feeling very blessed and very lucky to be in a great organization, a great team. This year we are having a great year."

While Parker is considered a veteran since he has been with the Spurs for about a decade, Hamady Ndiaye of the Washington Wizards is a rookie in the NBA, being drafted last year out of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

A native of Senegal, Ndiaye is 2.1-meters (7 feet) - tall and recently celebrated his 24th birthday. The Wizards have won only 27 percent of their games so far this season - with a 15-54 record through February 17 - but the rookie remains upbeat.

Washington Wizards second-round draft pick Hamady Ndiaye speaks to reporters during a basketball news conference introducing him to the media in Washington, June 29, 2010
Washington Wizards second-round draft pick Hamady Ndiaye speaks to reporters during a basketball news conference introducing him to the media in Washington, June 29, 2010

"Well, it is very tough for the whole team and for me in particular," said Ndiaye. "I just came back from the D-league and I try to help these guys out at practice. Seeing us lose this hard, we [have] to pick it up real quick and move on. We got one coming up tomorrow. Hopefully we will get together and come in ready."

Ndiaye was born in Dakar, but says he spent a lot of time in Saly and Ngaparu, two resort towns with scores of hotels and luxury residences spread along their beaches.  

He credits one person, Babacar Sy, not only for teaching him the basics in basketball when he was 15, but also with finding him a scholarship at a high school in California. He later would get another scholarship to Rutgers, where he played for four years and eventually earned a communications degree.

Although playing in the NBA is a dream come true, Ndiaye said there also are some tough moments.

"It is pretty tough not having your family and people you know and love around you," said Ndiaye. "It is tough, but I know I am here for a reason.  Bigger things, not just me or my family, but I got a whole country behind me and supporting me all over the place. So it is tough in a way, but at the same time rewarding, knowing that I am working hard for a reason."

Ndiaye and Parker are following in a long tradition of foreign-born NBA players. Henry Biasatti of Italy is credited with being the first international player in the league in 1946.

In 1992, though, the year of the original U.S. Olympic "Dream Team,"  the NBA had only 21 international players on its rosters. Today, that number has tripled to 20 percent of all NBA players who represent 40 countries.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid