11.29.2007

A Million Miles Away



When Iran won some FIBA tournament last year, I was a little disappointed. Well, first I was excited, then I got majorly bummed to pieces when I watched footage. However foolishly, I'd expected Persian hoops to be, well, exotic.

It's all fine and good to say that a sport, like basketball, is a universal language through which each nation-state gives voice to its identity. But the best shit happens when a culture with a surfeit of style—and let's face it, for thousands of years Iran has that—actually puts a twist on that basic language. The only other examples I can think of are the totally foreign twitches of rhythm in Manu and Barbosa's games (KOBE SAID IT, NOT ME). Or, if I have to say it, the whole Af-Am-ization of the NBA from Elgin Baylor on.

I would like international play a lot more if it were more like this video, which is apparently how pick-ups games go down at Baghdad College. I think these guys aren't very good, but the last thing we need is more boring basketball, clinical basketball, or basketball reinforcing NCAA values. The least a far-flung country can do is come up with a shock to the sport's system. That's what the Warriors did, right, and they live in America!

One year, ESPN Mag's NEXT issue got so insane they started tracking down athletes who might could be NEXT in four years. There was a story on scouting for players in the Sudan, which is apparently full of lightning-quick, vista-long 6'9" kids who can jump over anyone despite not owning shoes. They pass well and can handle okay, but have no idea what the rules are. They can't shoot, either, which actually sounds this sound like a country of embryonic Julian Wrights.

If basketball is indeed a tool for the left, which I like to think it could be, then we need to fight hegemony within the sport. The NBA's adoption of the Pan-Euro Invasion didn't just "help" the Association. It was also a way of stamping out regional resistance, of making international competition into the European Union.

Baghdad College won't stand for none of that. Sissies.

22 Comments:

At 11/29/2007 10:54 PM, Blogger rebar said...

now i really want to see these 6'9" badasses in action.

 
At 11/29/2007 11:54 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

Piggybacking onto the idea of cultural hoops style, look at the former Yugoslavia, one of the most batshit, duck-fucking insane regions on Earth. Yugo ballers? Fundamentally sound jump shooters. This is a part of the world where dudes get their heads cut off for something their great-great-great grandfather did during the Ottoman Empire, you'd think their basketball would be more interesting.

 
At 11/30/2007 12:41 AM, Blogger El Presidente said...

I am now rooting for the Suns to score 59 in a quarter. God bless those shitty fucking Knicks.

I like the idea of Sudanese scouting. But I think we need to look more towards the mass Asian/Indian populations. When is the first 6' 9" Hindu point guard with an unbreakable handle going to come into the league? We need more expansive scouting!

 
At 11/30/2007 1:46 AM, Blogger Amphibian said...

I work with a former child soldier from Sudan. He's full of crazy stories and even crazier scars. He was from a good family, but they got separated when the fighting hit his area and he was left by himself and got hoovered up into the action.

However, one story stands out for this site in particular. He came over here a few years back and is putting himself through college while working a couple part-time jobs. This doesn't leave a whole lotta downtime, but he does keep in contact with the local Sudanese. Well, last year when Luol Deng blew up, this guy flipped out.

It turned out they'd played together in school waaaaaay back, like as 5 or 6 year old kids. Guy's got a picture of himself and Manute Bol, but he's still repping the Luol connection more at work.

 
At 11/30/2007 2:49 AM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

I'm going to risk being reductionist here and suggest that it might be an issue of "club vs. country" as they say in soccer. You can't do something special, or reinvent the sport, if you don't know the dudes you're playing with, which is one of the reasons that there's such a difference between international tournaments and the NBA, especially in terms of the US team.

In other words, the dudes from Baghdad college can do this thing because they probably see the same guys out there day after day and after a while, you can't help but fuck around, there's a comfort level of letting yourself go. If you're getting drafted into the national squad and the squad is meeting each other as well as trying to play together, you're not going to be able to do much beyond the fundamentals.

jyaljb - russian surfer gets confused, likes LeJron Baines.

 
At 11/30/2007 5:39 AM, Blogger Ian said...

I play basketball with a lot of Arabs and they all play JUST like in the video. They play a weird way where no one plays besides the person with the ball and the one playing defense on him. There's always a player or two who walks on and off the court, with no real interest in the game. And they NEVER keep score.

I don't know how to explain it, but if you had told me you had a video of "Arab basketball" I would have known exactly how it looked.

 
At 11/30/2007 10:45 AM, Blogger DB Shuffle said...

Amphib: does that kid go to Oberlin College? random shot in the dark.

 
At 11/30/2007 12:15 PM, Blogger goathair said...

I can get my hands on some footage of this huge African guy absolutely destroying Kevin Bacon.

 
At 11/30/2007 1:00 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Typically strong stuff from Joey: http://straightbangin.blogspot.com/2007/11/impressionism.html

 
At 11/30/2007 1:04 PM, Blogger Ghost Deini said...

"I can get my hands on some footage of this huge African guy absolutely destroying Kevin Bacon."

Wait... in basketball... or literally tearing Bacon apart. Either way it'd make my week.

Is it footage from an aborted Hanes commercial? I hate Bacon's smugness in those underwear commercials with Jordan. It'd be cool if it was Bacon getting dunked on all unorthodox-like for 20 seconds and then fade to "Look Who We've Got Our Hanes on Now"

 
At 11/30/2007 1:25 PM, Blogger Maxwell said...

Did the relationship with Bacon lead to Jordan's divorce?

El Presidente--I've been thinking the same thing about India. Between them and the Pak, there's like a billion swinging dicks over there. I would think that their best 5 guys are pretty fucking good. A dude I know from Karachi has a solid outside shot, but he spent a few years in Boston. Once in grad school I got bodied one-on-one by a hungover Mexican. I mean, I'm terrible, but . . . Mexico. Damn.

Finally--Warriors live in America? Ahem: Oakland. Ireland. Iceland. Maryland. Candyland. Sovereign nations all.

 
At 11/30/2007 1:49 PM, Blogger William said...

Is "The Air up There" out on DVD yet?

 
At 11/30/2007 2:34 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

This video looks like a bad game of 21, with no takebacks, and some under the table deals (i.e. if I get in trouble and can't score, I'll pass to that guy, since that guy has less points than me anyway).

Also, that guy with the cap on needs to you his tremendous length advantage more. Homeboy looks like Arab Durant out there... sh*t, if he can grab rim, he should be crushing these little cats....

 
At 12/01/2007 12:21 PM, Blogger brad said...

Thought the FD readership would like to know. From the Washington Posts's Wizards blog:
Not a lot to update from the lockeroom this evening but I did catch a glimpse of Andray Blatche and rookies Nick Young and Dominic McGuire as they rolled in. They were wearing, and I swear this is true, matching Dickies pants and shirt combinations, you know, the kind you used to see cats wear in NWA and DOC videos back in the early 90's.

I asked Roger Mason about this and he just shook his head: "Man, I don't have anything to do with that."

Andray on the attire:: "You've heard of the big three? Well, we're the future 3."

 
At 12/01/2007 12:55 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

AK474EVR

 
At 12/01/2007 3:35 PM, Blogger Uptown said...

The player that was highlighted in the ESPN NEXT article, Solomon Alabi, who ESPN claimed would be being "hyped as the next duncan by 2009" is actually a freshman this year at Florida State.
And referencing to what ian said about arabs playing a five-on-five version of one-on-one, this is very similiar to how Somalians that I used to play with used to ball

 
At 12/02/2007 8:31 PM, Blogger Timur Hammond said...

Are these guys Iraqi or Iranian? I ask only because leading the article with the bit about the Iranian national team sort of makes it sound like these kids are Iranian. Which I assume they're not. But the article's good.

 
At 12/03/2007 3:01 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This is Baghdad College. It made up for all the disappointment I suffered at the hands of the Iranian national team. So in at least one way, Iraq is superior to Iran.

 
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