Friday, October 24, 2008

Why it's good to be a Spurs fan: Reason No. 5-Diversity

Previously we alluded to the fact the Spurs were trendsetters in the field of international scouting. And let me tell ya, these guys come from around the globe.

Currently the roster includes Emanuel Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto from Argentina, and Tony Parker and Ian Mahinmi from France. Tim Duncan - who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands - could be considered a pseudo-international player, and American Ime Udoka, whose father was born in Nigeria, has played for Nigeria's national team.
In recent years, the team was more international, with Rasho Nesterovic and Beno Udrih of Slovenia reppin' the squad, as well as Dutchman Francisco Elson and Kiwi Sean Marks. All of these players were with the team in 2005 or later ... oh, and who could forget the stellar career of Romain Sato, a 2004 draft pick from the Central African Republic?

The Spurs also have a pet project of drafting players from overseas and letting them stay there until they're ready to play in the Association. As John Hollinger of ESPN said, "They were the first team to think of using its second-round draft picks to build up a base of players in Europe who could develop on somebody else's dime. They were also the first ones to realize there were perimeter players from overseas good enough to be NBA stars, and stole Parker and Ginobili in the draft because of it."
Their current stash includes Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter and Lithuanian Robertas Javtokas.

Only recently has this trend backfired, as Splitter was able to command a much higher salary playing for Spanish powerhouse Tau Ceramica than he could as a late first-round pick under the NBA's rookie salary scale. The team could sure use Tiago agora. Also, trading away Argentine baller Luis Scola after letting him develop in Spain - he played in Europe until 2007 after being drafted by San Antone in 2002 - didn't turn out so well.

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