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News » A Swiss kid's dream finally lands Sefolosha in NBA

A Swiss kid's dream finally lands Sefolosha in NBA

A Swiss kid's dream finally lands Sefolosha in NBA
Growing up in Switzerland, Thabo Sefolosha announced at age 10 his dream was to play in the NBA.

Friends and relatives scoffed.

NHL maybe. After all, Switzerland isn't a Basketball hotbed.

After playing five years in European pro leagues, mostly as a teenager, Sefolosha became the first Swiss-born player in the NBA. Traded to the Thunder last week, the former lottery pick has a tattoo that reads, "The Game Chose Me."

"I was pretty good, but it's different than the U.S.," Sefolosha said. "Basketball is really small. They don't play it much. You don't see it on TV much. You play for a team from the region."

His introduction to Basketball was when the Dream Team played in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics. He was age 8.

Two years later, he saw a video of an NBA game. Watching athletes run, jump and dunk, he was hooked. He had a poster of Michael Jordan, but his favorite player was Chris Webber.

"I was a big fan of his," Sefolosha said. "I don't know why. I guess I always wanted to be a big man."

At 6-foot-7, Sefolosha isn't a big man, but his long wingspan is a major asset defensively on the perimeter. On a team needing defensive improvement, Sefolosha will be given opportunities to prove himself with Oklahoma City.

He started in his home debut Tuesday night against the Lakers.

Sefolosha gave Thunder fans a glimpse of his potential by forcing Kobe Bryant to work for tough shots.

"When you play against men at a young age, you grow up quickly," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "The talent level isn't quite the same, but most men don't want to be shown up by 17- and 18-year-old kids. You can tell he has a maturity."

At age 17, Sefolosha played in the Swiss pro league. After averaging 13.8 points, Manu Schmitt, a French coach, contacted him to play in France, a step up in competition.

"It was big," Sefolosha said. "Coming from Switzerland, there's not a lot of players that get to play in those type leagues. Playing in one of the top leagues in Europe helped me a lot. I learned the game."

By age 21, Sefolosha was playing in Italy's highly competitive pro league. NBA scouts took notice.

"Five or six different teams were coming to watch me play," Sefolosha said. "I started thinking, 'Maybe this can happen.' "

A few months later, Philadelphia selected him 13th overall in 2006 and traded him to Chicago for Rodney Carney and a second-round pick.

In his third NBA season, Sefolosha, 24, has an opportunity to carve out a role on a young team building for the future. Tuesday's game was only his second in the Ford Center.

He played one game with the Bulls when the Hornets were in Oklahoma City.

"It's great to see the crowd get into it," Sefolosha said. "We as players feed off that. We're a young team. These last two months, we're going to use every practice, every game to get better.

"This is my dream. As soon as I started playing, I fell in love with the sport. I knew that was what I wanted to do the rest of my life."

Thabo Sefolosha

Age League PPG RPG

17 Swiss 13.8 3.2 18 DNP 19 France 4.1 3.6 20 France 9.1 6.8 21 Italy 12.0 6.9 22 NBA 3.6 2.2 23 NBA 6.7 3.7 24 NBA 4.5 2.8

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 28, 2009


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