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February 03, 2004

NBA international

The NBA lists its international players. So I decided to look at the data. I limited it to the European players, and here is what I found....

(using Russia as a baseline of 1, I've put in bold the over-representation of small countries in the NBA-if someone wants to do a proportional projection based on European population, go ahead, but I don't have time to do that-I just wanted a relative metric that shows the relationship between the small countries)

Serbia 9 (123)
France 5
Croatia 3 (100)
Georgia 3 (90)
Slovenia 2 (150)
Spain 2 (7.5)
Turkey 2 (4.3)
Ukraine 2 (6)
Poland 2 (7.5)
Netherlands 2
Lithuania 2 (86)
Czech Republic 1 (15)
England 1
Germany 1 (1.9)
Greece 1 (15)
Iceland 1 (500)
Russia 1 (1)
Scotland 1

France did pretty well huh? Well, click the photos and you'll see that none of the French guys really pass the muster as "root" stock-they're noveau French, so to speak. Same with the Netherlands and England. The Scottish and Icelandic guys do look like what we imagine Scottish and Icelandic people should look like.

All I can conclude from this is that Northwest Europeans can't jump. Sort of...you watch Peja and Vlade play, and they don't have hops either, but they do have some mighty skills. Northwest Europeans can't shoot? Well, Larry Bird...you get my point.

But look at the eastern European data, and you'll see that the former Yugoslavs are the Kalenjin of European basketball. But what about little Georgia and Lithuania? They have 2 players and 3 players each, while Russia only has 1. Greece and Turkey also make contributions, as do a few Slavic nations. Keep in mind the population numbers for some of these countries. Georgia 5 million. Lithuania 3.5 million. Germany 80 million. England, 60 million. France, 60 million. Italy, 55 million.

What explains this? The people of the Dinaric region are pretty tall, but so are Scandinavians. Perhaps it's because the weather is so bad up north that you can never play rat-ball?

Posted by razib at 07:46 PM