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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs