Former Wolverine/Clipper Josh Moore‘s road back to pro ball in the U.S. included a 2004 stint playing in Iran’s Superleague. A follower of Moore’s blogging, CSTB contributor David Roth spoke with the 7’2″ center (currently with the D-League’s LA D-fenders) about his experience in a country with those who “love America. They have a problem with our politics and their own, but they are smart enough to separate the government and the people, because they face the same issue every day.” From the Wall Street Journal Online :
While Mr. Moore left the country as a fan of Iran and its people, he didn’t leave with a high opinion of the Superleague. “I would recommend Iran as a place to visit,” he says, but adds that “as a league, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”
Some of the oddities of Iranian basketball seem unique to that country “ Mr. Moore says in most cities women aren’t allowed to attend games, “and in the places that do allow them to attend, they sit on a completely different side of the arena from the men.” But the league’s other failings are common even in higher-profile foreign leagues. “You could be in a B-level gym that’s packed one night, and the next be in a gym that’s the equivalent of a bad outdoor park in the worst neighborhood in America, with only three spectators,” Mr. Moore says.
Another drawback? Sporadic or nonexistent paychecks — a not-unknown hazard in international leagues.
“An Iranian National Team player on my team was in tears because he had to sell his wife’s car in order to pay his bills, because the owner refused to pay him,” Mr. Moore says, adding that “the other American on my team didn’t get paid at all, and he was the leading scorer.” But while Mr. Moore warns that the Superleague’s endemic shadiness could “completely kill their ability to get foreign players into that market,” the promise of a paycheck “ even if it turns out only to be a promise “ remains enough to lure players to such far-flung locales as Siberia, Iceland, Cyprus and, yes, Iran.
David and Josh can be heard tomorrow on NPR’s Bryant Park Project.