Oberlin Blogs

International Diversity in the NBA

May 29, 2009

Charles Grim

This post doesn't really have much to do with Oberlin College, but after last night's thrilling Cleveland Cavaliers win over the Orlando Magic, I got to thinking about how it isn't just college campuses where one can find international diversity.

Here at Oberlin, most people tend to follow the local team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, although many students will tend to root for the team from their hometown area. Fully 20% of the Cavs' roster and 2 out of 5 starters for the team are international. And we are excited that we have 7% international students on campus! Zydrunas Ilgauskas from Lithuania and Anderson Varejao from Brazil start for the Cavs and Sasha Pavlovic is usually one of the first players off the bench. Sasha was born in Bar, Montenegro, in what was then Yugoslavia. Later this became the country of Serbia and Montenegro. Sasha considers himself to be Serbian and, after Montenegro's secession, he has chosen to represent Serbia in international play. In this particular playoff series, though, I'd have to say that Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu from Turkey has been the most impressive imported player.

As a whole, 74 players from 30 countries besides the US play in the NBA. Here's a link to the official list. I didn't even count 3 players from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands who aren't technically foreign but do show up on the NBA's list.

And now to bring this back to something pertinent to Oberlin College. A lot of times we fall into the trap of talking about the diversity that international students bring to our campus. And they do add so much in that way. However, the NBA reminded me of another important fact. We also bring international students to Oberlin for exactly the same reason that NBA teams bring international players: these folks are great. For the Cavs and the rest of the NBA, the foreign players are great basketball players who have earned a spot on an NBA roster through their basketball prowess. For Oberlin College and our many peer liberal arts colleges, foreign students are great students who have earned a spot on our campuses through their academic and extra-curricular prowess.

And remember, if you come to Oberlin College, Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is only 45 minutes from campus!

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