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Dennis Schroder scored 28 points in Germany's gold-medal-winning effort against Serbia - (FIBA PHOTO)

 

Luka Doncic leaves it all on the floor with his hustle - (NBA photo)

 

Luol Deng the South Sudan national team basketball connection - (Zach Primozic PHOTO)

 

Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics Larry Bird in Game two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston Garden Date 30 May 1985 - Steve Lipofsky www.Basketballphoto.com

 

THE CRUCIFIXION of KYRIE IRVING was excessive

 

 

SPORTS NOTES - FIBA BASKETBALL SAVED THE GAME

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

The skill level of International players has come a long way so much so that should their development continue they will dominate the NBA. The reason why is they are serious about playing the game and NOT being an entertainment side show promoting a BRAND - NBA's ALL TIME BEST PLAYERS 1st and 2nd TEAMS

 

Saturday September 23, 2023

THE PLAYING FIELD IS NOW LEVEL

The sweet and sour of this story is not about food but about the ingredients of sports. For the majority of this century the game of basketball in the USA, where it was born, has been mutilated.

Gone is the game and in came entertainment. In the US it's about the Magic Johnson I, me, my disease, What was a perfect game has been replaced with players more concerned about their brand, putting on a fashion show and look at my bad ass hair style.

Yes life goes on and time makes changes. The abortion of the game is unforgiving. As time goes on the game continues to be diluted. The good news is the recent FIBA basketball competition displayed the way the game should and was played. It was unbelievable; a player could thump, bump, touch another, foul them and not go to jail! For sure FIBA is not in the sissy ball business.

It was somewhat shocking to see players following up their shots, blocking out, working hard and not extensively dribbling between their legs. It was about playing the game as hard as one can.

Today's players are more concerned about THEIR BRAND than the game. This selfish attitude has permeated the NBA. Much OF THE attitude change has to do with the changing times and technology.

It's now about social media age and gives the players the opportunity to express their selves to their fans. That's good news, as it creates a pipeline for fans to experience how players think and act. Their self expression is a good thing the question is what comes first, the game or… THE BRAND?

For the most part absent were the glowing florescent shoes, International players wore various foot-ware but they were to play the game not draw attention to themselves or SELL THEIR BRAND.

This tournament was about basketball not show business. This seasons FIBA competition was impressive with Germany coming out the winner defeating Serbia in the final. It was their first World Cup gold in the competition.

Twenty-seven of the 32 participating national teams had at least one current NBA player, NBA draftee or a player with NBA experience, and national team rosters include 10 former NBA All-Stars: Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves; USA), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder; Canada), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks; Slovenia), Rudy Gobert (Timberwolves; France), Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers; USA), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans; USA), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies; USA), Lauri Markkanen (Utah Jazz; Finland), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves; Dominican Republic) and Nikola Vucevic (Chicago Bulls; Montenegro).

Outside of the United States, which features a tournament-high 12 NBA players, Australia has the most current NBA players (nine), followed by Canada (seven) and Germany (four).

Germany played hard with Toronto Raptors guard Dennis Schroder and Orlando Magic's Franz Wagner being the key go to guys. The Germans had two players from the Orlando Magic including Wagner's brother Moritz as well as Daniel Theis currently of the Indiana Pacers.

Germany proved their grit with a hard fought win over the USA. They were undefeated finishing with an 8-0 record overall. Going into the tournament the Germans were ranked 11th and the USA 2nd. The Americans also lost to Lithuania 110-104. The US finished in 4th place after losing to Serbia in the semi-final.

The competition indicates is the International talent is becoming as tough as the NBA. The proof is how successful the career of Slovenia's Luka Doncic has had in the league. Doncic was the only NBA player on his nation's team. They fought hard and made an impressive showing finishing with a 5-3 record for a 7th place finish.

It seems that Doncic has a major motor; he never seems to slow down. His pace is unbelievable. Not to slight anyone Doncic seemed to be the hardest working player on the floor throughout the competition.

I first started to write about and produce radio features of international players on the college and NBA level in 1989. At the time, there was very little attention given to them by the media. My first recollection of my interest was watching on TV Vlade Divac dribbling across half court while making a behind the back dribble. It was impressive. The Lakers eventually drafted Divac.

When the Lakers drafted him I tried to get some feedback from then Lakers GM Jerry West. I was shocked a he squealed loudly in the Lakers dressing room, "everybody new about Vlade!"

After getting myself together following his outburst, I took tact by later interviewing other NBA players that were cooperative in sharing their thoughts on the level on International players. The most consistent response was they played offense well but lacked defensive skills.

Well… that was then (1989) and this is now. Listen up, International players are now playing strong defense. It was defense that helped International teams to do so well in the competition.

The end-all is the skill level of International players has come a long way so much so that should their development continue they will dominate the NBA. The reason why is they are serious about playing the game and NOT being an entertainment side show promoting a BRAND.

One key side story is how well South Sudan competed. They finished with a 3-2 record for a 17th place finish but qualified for the upcoming Olympics.

What makes this team so interesting is it has former Chicago Bulls player Luol Deng behind them. Deng functions as an assistant coach. More importantly he is President of the South Sudan Basketball federation.

It is players like him along with the NBA Africa development league that has created a path to success from poverty. There are many outstanding players from Africa in the NBA today.

When I began my International player research there were few. Most notably Hakeem Olajuwon was my favorite interview with players from Africa. Olajuwon is one of the most articulate and intelligent player I have ever interviewed in all sports.

Deng was born in South Sudan but his family fled due to conflicts there when he was a youth eventually settling in the United Kingdom. He became a British citizen in 2006, and has played for the Great Britain national team.

Deng was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft with the seventh overall pick. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team as a 19-year-old in 2005. The small forward was an All-Star with the Chicago Bulls in 2012 and 2013.

He had a solid NBA career that ended somewhat in controversy. He dealt with that and has returned to his homeland to help develop the basketball skills of his countrymen.

We'll do a feature on his life at a later time. His life is interesting so much so there s an excellent interview with him on the Al Jazeera channel.

Go to: https://www.aljazeera.com/program/generation-change/2023/9/3/luol-deng-uniting-a-country-through-basketball

The show is titled: Generation Change Luol Deng:

Uniting a country through basketball

Former NBA star Luol Deng on building the South Sudan basketball team and why he believes sport can change lives.

Can sport transcend borders and have the power to unite a country after conflict?

Iman Amrani sits down with basketball legend Luol Deng to discuss his remarkable journey, from being a South Sudanese refugee to being drafted into the NBA and playing for some of the world's best teams, including the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and LA Lakers.

This show is a MUST WATCH for any basketball fan. This is a human interest story.


 

NBA's ALL TIME BEST PLAYERS

THE NBA's GREATEST of ALL TIME
1st Team
Position
2nd Team
Larry Bird
PF
Elgin Baylor
SF
Julius Erving
Bill Russell
C
Wilt Chamberlain
Michael Jordan
SG
Step Curry
Magic Johnson
PG
Oscar Robertson
11th & 12th MAN SUBSTITUTES & Coach
C/F
C
Coach

NBA's 50 GREATEST PLAYERS of ALL TIME LIST

On October 29, 1996 In conjunction with the NBA’s 50th anniversary celebration, the list of The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History was announced. It included: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nate Archibald, Paul Arizin, Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Dave DeBusschere, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Hal Greer, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Earvin Johnson, Sam Jones, Michael Jordan, Jerry Lucas, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, Bob Pettit, Scottie Pippen, Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Bill Russell, Dolph Schayes, Bill Sharman, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens, and James Worthy


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