Luol Deng of the Los Angeles Lakers is a 13-year veteran in the NBA. He has been an all-star twice and has a net worth of about 60 million dollars. He was also born in Wau, South Sudan, at a time when it was still a part of Sudan.
Since the fourth grade, I have never scored more than five points for any of my basketball teams. I attended a four-year university and am currently finishing my graduate program, so my net worth is in the red. I was born in Laguna Hills, California, but both of my parents were born in Iran.
If you were to look at a picture of us, you would see two very different men.
But, we have have one thing in common: we both have ties to countries that are on President Trump’s Muslim ban list.
Those countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
On Saturday, the NBA reached out to the State Department. They asked for more information on this ban and how it would affect their players from these countries — specifically Luol Deng and Thon Maker — who travel to Toronto to play the Raptors and overseas for exhibition games that are meant to introduce the NBA to different countries.
Luol Deng has traveled to Toronto twice with the Lakers this season and went to South Africa in 2015 for an exhibition game. I went to the NBA Africa game and never have I been more proud of the NBA for showing how the basketball does not confine itself to the borders of nations.
“We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries,” Mike Bass, who is an NBA spokesman, said in a statement. “The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world.”
The NBA is a global league.
Basketball is a game that can be played by one kid in Wau, South Sudan and another in Laguna Hills, USA.
It is a sport that encompasses the ideology that diversity brings about progress and leads to a better quality product.
The United States of America was founded on that ideology as well.
I have been a historian since elementary school. The history of the United States has always fascinated me and to this day, I am extremely proud to be an American.
In eight grade, I took a class trip to New York. When we visited the Statue of Liberty, I read this quote for the first time:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This isn’t a policy written by a law maker or a line in a song from the 60s. This was something written in stone. Something that would withstand the elements for hundreds of years. A quote that was posted long before I was born and will be there long after I’m dead.
No matter what your politics are, there is no arguing that the executive order signed by President Trump goes against the ideology behind this quote.
That quote was written in stone.
The executive order was written on paper.
That is why I still have faith. That is why when a president spits in the face of a group of people, I still have faith in the United States of America.
And I hope Luol Deng does too.