The wave of NBA players ditching the States to play basketball abroad is becoming a tsunami. The Bulls have already lost Brian Scalabrine to the Euro-Leagues and now their bow tied big man is going continent hoping as well.
Center Joakim Noah arrived in France on Monday to report to the French National team, who which he will be playing for during this summer’s European Championships in Lithuania.
Noah declined an offer to do this very thing last summer as he holds dual U.S and French citizenship.
Unlike the Derron Williams’ of the basketball world, Noah’s Euro play won’t interfere with that of his NBA play. The French National team opens up play on August 31st and the tournament runs through September 18th.
France opens play against Latvia.
Playing for France isn’t a spontaneous decision for Noah. According to him, playing for the French National team has been a sort of dream since his college days.
“The French National team is definitely something that has been in my dreams for a while. They used to talk to me a lot when I was playing with the Gators, but the Gators were my priority.”
Noah isn’t heading to France alone either. He will be joined by at least six current NBA players, five of whom make up the starting lineup for Team France. Noah will be joined by Boris Diaw of the Charlotte Bobcats, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, Mickhael Pietrus of the Phoenix Suns and Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers. The New York Knicks Ronny Turiaf is listed as a bench player and Kevin Saraphin of the Washington Wizards is listed as an inactive reserve.
Since 1949, Team France has never placed above second in the final rankings, finishing in third place in 1951, 1953 and 1959. They didn’t medal again until 2005 when they finished in third once again.
With a roster loaded with NBA talent, and not that bad NBA talent at that, Team France is looking to fair a little bit better than a bronze when this summer’s Championships are all said and done.