In what seems to me as an attempt to amplify an issue, the National Basketball Association this week contacted the U.S. Department of State requesting clarification of how President Trump’s executive order suspending immigration and visas for citizens from certain countries will impact player travel. The current ban is in place for the next 90 days.
“We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement. “The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world.”
First off, there are only two players in the NBA that are from countries on the list of those banned from entry into the United States. Both of the players are from South Sudan – Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng and Milwaukee Bucks rookie Thon Maker.
Secondly, Deng has dual citizenship with Great Britain (not banned), and Maker has dual citizenship with Australia (not banned). They both have green cards to work in the United States and are not a terrorist threat. Remember, the key element to the ban is what President Obama began as “extreme vetting.” Both players would have no problem passing the vetting process, assuming they pose no threat.
Third, neither team will play outside the United States any time soon. Both teams have already played against the Raptors in Toronto, and will not play there again the rest of the season. Neither player had any problem getting back into the United States from Canada using their passports. At this writing, both the Bucks and the Lakers are out of playoff contention, so it’s not likely either team will have to play in Toronto during the NBA playoffs.
It just seems that all this is a moot point, but the NBA is seeking publicity and attempting to appear to its fans as a champion of equal rights and inclusion. If that’s so, how come there are only two players in the NBA from any of the seven countries on the banned list?
There can be no doubt Serena Williams is the all-time greatest tennis player, male or female, and I felt this way even before she won her record 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open this past week.
Williams won the Australian Open for the seventh time, and at 35, she is the only player – man or woman – to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles in the Open Era. To put that in perspective; Williams was tied with Steffi Graf at 22 Grand Slam titles since winning the 2016 Wimbledon Championship, while Australian Margaret Court holds the overall record with 24 Grand Slam titles, an achievement which spans the pre-Open and Open Era.
If Williams wins one more Grand Slam; the U.S. Open, the French Open, or Wimbledon, she will tie Court and shatter all records.
The fact that she won the Australian Open is even more amazing if you consider that following her loss in the U.S. Open semifinals last year, Williams didn’t play another competitive match the rest of the year. In her first tournament this year, at Auckland, New Zealand, Williams played poorly and lost in three sets to fellow American Madison Brengle in the opening round. Williams committed a shocking 88 unforced errors in that match.
So, here’s hoping this win in Australia is the spring board Williams needs to shatter some more records this year, while you and I get to watch sports history in the making.