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The Arab Dream: Arab Hoopers who Made Strides in the NBA League

February 15, 2023

Across the globe, Arab athletes are scoring goals and shooting hoops in different sports. In one of the most popular leagues in the world—the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States—Arab hoopers have been making headlines since the 1990s.

The NBA has been known for helping drive the game of basketball across the world. Although it is an American league, international players make up 21.8 percent.

The league is home to legends who have shaped the game of basketball, such as Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and others—but what many will not know is that there were also Arab players that made waves in the unbeatable NBA.

Here are some of the players who made achievements in the NBA, and players who continue building their legacies.

Abdelrahman Nader

Abdelrahman Nader is currently the only Egyptian player drafted in the NBA. The star started playing college basketball for the Northern Illinois Huskies before he was drafted by the Boston Celtics, followed by Oklahoma City Thunder, then the Phoenix Suns. Nader is the first-ever internationally born player to win the NBA Development League Rookie of the Year.

Mahmoud Abdelfattah

Photo Credit: Hndux

The first-ever Muslim and Palestinian-American head coach in the G League (the minor league basketball organization in the NBA), Mahmoud Abdelfattah is a basketball coach for the Houston Rockets. Abdelfattah played basketball in high school and college, and it took him a long journey of 11 years before he acquired a full-time coaching position.

Rony Seikaly

Photo Credit: cdn.vox

Considered one of the first international players to make an impact on American basketball, Rony Seikaly was a Lebanese-American professional basketball player. Seikaly was drafted into the NBA by the Miami Heat in 1988, and established himself as one of the best centers in the league. He then went on to play for the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, and the New Jersey Jets. His career would have been more prosperous had he not called an early end to it because of an injury.

Alaa Abdelnaby

Photo Credit: billypenn

A professional basketball player of Egyptian origins, Alaa Abdelnaby was born in Egypt and raised in the United States, where he had a fruitful basketball career. He started his career in 1990 playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, and then went on to play in other teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, the Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Antibes Sharks.

Though his NBA career is over, Abdelnaby is still a household name in American basketball, as he is currently a basketball broadcaster and an analyst for NBCS Philadelphia.

Salah Mejri

Photo Credit: twitter

Salah Mejri is a Tunisian professional basketball player who is currently playing for the Beirut Club and the senior Tunisian national basketball team. In the past, however, he played as the center position for the NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks. He was the first Tunisian NBA player to join the Mavericks in 2015. After four years with the team, he went to play for Real Madrid in Spain in 2019.

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