New League, New Country
Posted Sep 22 2003 11:48AM
San Antonio's Emanuel Ginobili meets with the international rookies
NEW YORK, Sept. 22 -- As part of the NBA's Rookie Transition Program, a six-day seminar and workshop designed to prepare incoming players for life in the NBA, international players participated in a session on Saturday night that focuses specifically on their unique needs.
Guest speakers from the NBA discussed issues as varied as bringing family members to the U.S. from overseas, obtaining visas and green cards, how to develop marketing partnerships with the players' home countries and the increased demands of the U.S. media. Above all, they emphasized how the NBA could provide a support system for helping international players become acclimated off the court.
What did you discuss today?
Ginobili: I just talked about what I went through last season coming in with the Spurs, the style of play in the NBA and also some of the similarities and differences here compared to Europe.
What was something you learned last year that you felt was important to pass on to the rookies?
Ginobili: One of the things you don't really think about when you're coming into the league is the opportunity for community involvement. The teams are fairly active in that respect and I felt it was important to advise them on the different possibilities as far as how they'll be able to help people and give something back.
How important is it for the rookies to learn from you in a group setting like this before joining their individual teams?
Ginobili: I think it's very helpful. All these guys are in the same situation -- coming to the U.S. from all over the world -- and it's nice for them to get to know one another before the season begins. It creates a feeling that even though we'll be competing against one another soon, we're all on the same team.
How complete do you think this orientation program is as far as preparing young international players for life in the NBA?
Ginobili: It's a great introduction, but there are also always surprises. Even though I had an idea of what the NBA would be like, I didn't expect it to be as different as it is compared to playing in Europe. On the court, the game is faster and more competitive, and off the court, as a player, you're treated with a lot more professionalism.
Why did you feel it was important for you to participate in this program?
Ginobili: Like I said, I haven't been in the league very long, but I still thought I could share my own experiences and pass on what I've learned after one year in the NBA, maybe advise these guys on some of the possibilities they probably aren't even thinking about at this point.