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Friday, June 18, 2004

Interesting Names Among NBA Early-Entry Draft List

ESPN.com serves up for us the list of all of those players who have declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft as "early entrants." There are the familiar college names -- Emeka Okafor, Josh Childress, Devin Harris, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng -- and the familiar HS names -- Dwight Howard, Shaun Livingston, J.R. Smith, Sebastian Telfair -- and the European names (some of which have transliterations from their native Russian or other Eastern European languages that are hard to pronounce now but could be easier to pronounce in the future if Eastern Europeans make deeper inroads into the NBA). Then there are some sadder cases, such as Jason Parker, once intended for Carolina, spent some time at Kentucky, and is now a person without a team. Ditto Imari Sawyer, formerly of DePaul (last played there 2 years ago).

And then there are the two 7'4" Iranians, 19 year-old Hamid Haddadi, and 18 year-old Jaber Rouzbahani. Most certainly, their size would intrigue any scout (as has the size of the 7'5" Siberian who played in the Italian League (level one), the 7'4" South Korean who played against Yao Ming in the Asian games last summer, and the 6'10", 300-pound nimble Brazilian who was found at a construction site near Rio, and as did the size of 7'4", 280-pound Eric Gingold, who played some college ball at Division III Williams, and who got some ink from the national press surrounding his NBA prospects about 5 years ago). But these guys, so far, haven't gotten that much press. They're young kids, and, well, they're playing an American game in a country that, well, hates America.

Which raises all sorts of fascinating questions, such as, where will they play next? Are they any good? Do they somehow get access to NBA telecasts in Iran? Wouldn't the government in Teheran try to jam any signal of this type of American culture? Would the U.S. Executive Order prohibiting trade with Iran prevent these kids from playing in America even if they were any good (which might be a sad consequence of these laws, as was the consequence of having Sydney Maree banned from international track competitions years ago because, even though he is black, because he was from South Africa).

So remember the 7'4" one-two punch straight from Iran, Hamid Haddadi and Jaber Rouzbahani.

Just don't look to hear their names called at the NBA Draft on June 24.

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