SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And We Saw It Here, First, in 2004

In 2004, I wrote about two promising basketball players from Iran, Jabeer Rouzbahani and Hamed Haddadi. You can check those posts out for yourself here and here.

What I am reporting now is not new news, but the other day I was reading up on the NBA and learned that Haddadi is a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. Haddadi came of age in the 2008 Olympics, where he was the only player to average a double-double. Before joining the Grizzlies he played for Saba Battery in the Iranian Super League. He's not getting a lot of minutes now, and I doubt that Iran will become to the NBA what the Dominican Republic is to Major League Baseball, but this is an interesting development nonetheless.

That's what can be very unique about professional sports. If you're athletically gifted and over 7 feet tall, the world is small enough that basketball scouts will find you in Iran, Nigeria (Hakeem Olajuwon), Tanzania (Hasheem Thabeet) and the Sudan (Manute Bol, although I'd concede that the likable 7'7" player wasn't that athletically gifted, but he knew how to block shots and change the opposing team's approach to the game). Similarly, if you can throw a baseball over 95 miles per hour, the scouts will find you too (the way they lucked in on the oldest rookie, Jim Morris, who had left the game, became a high school teacher and returned as a reliever in his mid-thirties for the Tampa Bay (then-Devil) Rays in the 1990's.

The NBA is truly and international league, as even the Iranians permit their kids to play a game founded in the land of Satan (and we're not talking about hockey player Miroslav's back yard).

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