A part of

Issue # 12 originally posted Thursday, Jan. 22, 1998

About the Author:

Charles Loyd McIntosh

In 1997 Charles Loyd McIntosh was a news writer for the Talledega Daily Home (www.dailyhome.com). He was a former reporter for The Western Star in Bessemer (a small city west of Birmingham), Alabama, and a former Sports Editor for the Clanton Advertiser. At the time he was writing for the Sideroad, Loyd was pursuing a Masters in English degree at the University of Montevallo, Alabama. An avid sports fan, soccer is Loyd's sport of choice, one he has been known to coach in the recent past.

"The powers that be were just scared of soccer, like it was a communist threat hoisted on us by Kruschev. . .."


This is a repeat issue... hence the "old" Sideroad design. Loyd returns next week with "Getting to Know You" outlining the highlights of his new job.

On the Growth of Basketball in Europe. . .

I remember when I was a kid and heard all the time that soccer was the most popular game in the world. This always seemed strange to me, since it was impossible to find a game on television (and still is today). Everybody I knew played soccer, all hours of the day, every day of the week every week of the year. It was a passion to us. But, when we started to get a little age on us, we realized we had to turn to other sports. The powers that be were just scared of soccer, like it was a communist threat hoisted on us by Kruschev or something like that.

For many of us, basketball was our sport of choice. You could play if you were quick and speedy or if you were tall and awkward. Plus we figured we were safe playing basketball. It was uniquely American. None of that Japanese variety like baseball or any of that World League of American Basketball. Yep. Basketball was as American as mom and apple pie. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Well, emphasis on the was American.

It seems our great American game invented by James Naismith in Springfield, Mass. has been invaded by those darned Europeans. [Editor's Note: It may have been invented in the US, but Naismith was a Canadian!]

I'm kidding of course, and I hope I haven't offended anybody, but what I wanted to write about was the growth of basketball all over Europe and its influence on America and the NBA.

Anyone who watches the NBA on a regular basis knows that the number of European born players in the NBA has grown by an amazing number over the last decade. Players like Tony Kukoch, Detlef Schrempf and Rik Smitz have not only made a career out of playing in the NBA, but really have made a serious impact on the overall make-up of the league. One reason in particular is that most of our foreign born NBA starts are big men.

Bob Ryan, a sports columnist and regular on ESPN's Sunday morning show Sports Reporters made them comment that over half of the current NBA centers starting in the NBA are foreign born. He, for one, was kind of pissed off about it. I'm really not sure why. To me, it just shows how much basketball has travelled the world almost like soccer has done, with the exception of America, in the last decade.

Maybe one of the reasons basketball has become so popular in parts of Europe and even Africa is a player can work on his/her skills and practice his/her game with no one else. I don't know this for a fact, but maybe in parts of Europe, such as Slovakia which is suffering so much civil turmoil, it is difficult to find other people to engage in leisure activities. It's hard to play a game of soccer with just a handful of people. Basketball is game where a player can learn the sport with just another person. One on one.

In the midst of civil strife and rapidly changing geographical regions, basketball is a creative outlet that can be worked on and honed in solitude. And, as the game's popularity increases, we can expect more of a foreign influence to continue in a particularly American pastime.

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Text copyright Charles Loyd MacIntosh, 1997 - '98. Part of the original Sideroad ezine.
The new Sideroad - Your Road to Expert Advice - is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.