By Vinny Hardy
Basketball has been a global game at every level for a very long time. The 1992 Dream Team gets credit for schooling the world on how the game is played and rightfully so. However, there were international players who had made their mark on the game prior to the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Hakeem Olajuwon – Nigeria
Patrick Ewing – Jamaica
Vlade Divac – Serbia
Drazen Petrovic – Croatia
Arvydas Sabonis – Lithuania
Toni Kukoc – Croatia
We could go on and on.
The international flavor has only gotten stronger as the years have gone by. Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Dirk Nowitzki have taken the torch and will pass it on the next
crop of budding young stars.
On Tuesday Jan. 5 there will be a nice little gathering of talent from the down under vicinity at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, LA when the Kentucky Wildcats (11-2, 1-0 SEC) visit the LSU Tigers (8-5, 1-0).
The Tigers have Melbourne, Australia native Ben Simmons who could very well be the No. 1 overall pick in the
upcoming NBA Draft. Kentucky counters with fellow Australian Isaac Humphries, from Sydney, and Tai Wynyard who hails from Auckland, the capital city of New Zealand.
Melbourne and Sydney are 600 miles apart, it’s 1,343 miles from Sydney to Auckland and 1,630 miles from Melbourne to Auckland.
That’s why I used the phrase down under-ish in the title of this article. All of these cities a
re a good distance away from one another but to all of us halfway around the world, it’s easy to just lump all of those cities right next to one another.
Ben, Tai and Isaac will share the gym in what should be a good early season SEC game. LSU hasn’t lived up to all of the hype they garnered to start the season. Simmons has been as good as advertised, his 20.5 points, 13.1 boards and 5.4 assists a game are no joke and we all know the Tigers will probably play their best game of the season against the Cats.
Humphries is getting spot minutes here and there and Wynyard still remains a bit of a mystery (he almost saw the floor against Ole Miss) but the fact that they will represent that corner of the world tomorrow night (and again on March 5 at Rupp Arena) is cool to me.
Just the geography nerd coming out in me I guess.