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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More