The San Antonio Spurs will open the 2013-14 season with an NBA record 10 international players. Among them are Tony Parker (France), Manu Ginobii (Argentina) and Tiago Splitter (Brazil) who often play for their national team during the offseason.
This summer, Manu and Tiago did not play for their respective national teams but in the past have help guide their teams in international competition such as FIBA Americas or the Olympics. As for Parker, he only led Team France to EuroBasket gold and cemented himself as a basketball idol in his home country.
Brazilian basketball legend, Oscar Schmidt, weighed in on international players playing for their national teams and applauded Parker, Ginobili and Splitter for their consistent efforts for their home country on the court.
Via Washington Post:
Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson “Varejao, most of the time comes. [San Antonio Spurs forward] Tiago Splitter – fantastic.
Who doesn’t want to play in the Olympics? Everyone! Everyone! [Manu] Ginobili goes every time [and Luis] Scola goes every time [for Argentina]. Tony Parker goes every time [for France]. Dirk Nowitzki goes every time [for Germany]. All the Dream Team in America.
Schimdt made these comments in light of Wizards center Nene opting to not play for Team Brazil in recent years. While the Wizards and Bulls played a preseason game in Brazil, Brazilian fans booed Nene considering he hasn't been there for Team Brazil citing various excuses.
“Nene, I don’t know if he likes Brazil. Maybe he don’t,” Schmidt said. “Because for me, national team was the first thing in my life. I refuse to play NBA because of national team. And there are guys who refuse to play national team to play in the NBA. Why is that?”
Spurs fans have always been opinionated when it comes to seeing international Spurs suit up for summer play with their national team. The argument is how those players should rest for the following Spurs season. Especially players like Parker and Ginobili who log in many minutes between the Spurs and their respective national team and run the risk of injuring affecting San Antonio's title hopes.
However, those Spurs who decide to play over the summer do it out of national pride, a deep desire to represent their home country and competitiveness to face some of the best around the globe and not just in the NBA.