Detroit Pistons’ Greg Monroe believes that the ever more familiar sight of European players as well as the increased competition from European teams on the international stage can only be a positive for the NBA.
Monroe, who will be visiting the United Kingdom with his Detroit Pistons team to take on the New York Knicks at the O2 Arena next Thursday believes that far from being a token gesture to the league, European players have helped expand the game, as well as improve it.
“The guys that grow up in Europe, definitely have a unique way of playing,” said Louisiana-born Monroe, via a conference call on Wednesday evening.
“You definitely feel that there’s a different style in their play as far as fine tuning some skills and moves and things that they do. The game is taught a little bit different there so they’re going to have different habits and different things that they do than the guys who grew up in America, so it’s great for the game.
“It gives the game a bit of a disparity and gives a different look and outlook from the usual American way and it’s very healthy for basketball in the NBA and in worldwide competition too.”
A look back through the history of the NBA Draft, particularly in the mid-90’s, there was a noticeable lack of European players.
In 1995 there was only the solitary name of George Zidek, a centre from the Czech Republic who was drafted 22nd overall by the Charlotte Hornets. Such was his impact on the league that he played only three seasons, each while wearing a different uniform.
Since then, there has been an abundance of European stars, most notably Pau and Marc Gasol of Spain, Andrea Bargnani of Italy and Great Britain’s own Luol Deng.
And dispelling the prehistoric myth that European players are ‘soft’ – a label that was previously blindly used to describe players not from America – Monroe believes a player’s toughness is not so much to do with which passport he holds but more about the character of the individual.
“I haven’t really run into any guys that I could say are just ‘soft’. You could say that (soft) about guys that grew up in America in different parts of the country, so that’s just something that is a personal opinion. I don’t think you can apply that to the whole, majority of European players.”
The Detroit Pistons take on the New York Knicks in a 2012/13 regular season game at the O2 arena on Thursday 17th January. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00pm UK time.