By Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff
The West triumphed last night, 143-138, at the 62nd NBA All-Star game. As Forbes noted, the global reach of the league’s All-Star game indicated how much the NBA has become an international brand. While the media coverage was one worldwide highlight, another was the labor force. Of the 24 players who had court time during the main game, two athletes—8.3% of the official team rosters—represent Les Bleus in elite international competition.
The NBA All-Star press release proudly boasted that nine “international players” would participate in the 2013 All Star Game activities. The NBA’s definition of an “international player” corresponds to where one is born, and includes those with dual citizenship. Kyrie Irving, an “international player” listed on the 2013 East team roster, holds both Australian and U.S. citizenship. Tim Duncan of the 2013 West team, another “international player,” was born on St. Croix, a U.S. possession, and played for the U.S. national men’s team. Of the athletes listed on the official team roster, four were considered by the NBA to be “international players”: Irving, Duncan, Luol Deng (Great Britain), and Tony Parker (France). However, reconsider the definition of who constitutes an “international player” to instead be someone who has opted to represent another country in elite international competition—the term’s standard definition within global (and academic) sport circles. Then re-examine the 2013 All-Star team rosters and you realize that only three have played for another country’s national basketball team: Deng, Parker, and Joakim Noah (France).
Parker (San Antonio Spurs), perhaps more recognized in the United States than that other contemporary French great, Zinédine Zidane, concluded his fifth All-Star appearance Sunday evening. Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), who first shot to fame as part of the 2006 NCAA championship Florida Gators, made his debut All-Star performance.
How did the French press cover the All-Star game? On Monday morning, the website of France’s leading sports daily, L’Équipe, ran the NBA game as the second headline story. The main game summary, (“The All Star Game Leans to the West”) carried the subhead, “The West imposes itself (143-138) in Houston for the third time in a row at an All-Star Game where Chris Paul was elected MVP and Tony Parker and Joakim Noah held their rank.” The story led with an anecdote of Joakim Noah. The sports section of Le Monde featured three stories devoted to the weekend’s football matches and the Pistorius affair. The paper’s basketball blog declared “All Star Game: The West of Chris Paul Outclassed the East,” and devoted the first three paragraphs to the game recap. Paragraph four turned to the real matter at hand: how French internationals fared, and noted that both Parker and Noah had ample playing time (22 minutes of game time for Parker and 16 for Noah). On Le Figaro’s