Andre Emmett On Playing Ball In the Middle East

Andre Emmett was a star at Carter High School, then moved on to Texas Tech, where he played for Bobby Knight and became the school’s all-time leading scorer. But the NBA never really worked out for him. He was a second-round draft pick in 2004, but has bounced around the league, never sticking anywhere for long, never really getting any playing time during his short stints. His last taste came in February 2012, when he signed a 10-day contract with the then-New Jersey Nets. Now he’s leading the Lebanese Basketball League in scoring as a member of Amchit Club. As Jeff Neumann reports, basketball is now the No. 1 sport in Lebanon, supplanting soccer. Why? “Largely because fans are banned from attending [soccer] matches after repeated outbreaks of sectarian bloodletting in the stands.”

“It’s heavy here,” Emmett says. “I just gotta try to block it all out and focus on playing basketball.”

Beyond the obvious cultural differences, Emmett has to consider “a civil war raging next door in Syria, sporadic political violence in Lebanese cities, a recent spate of kidnappings, and corrupt security forces.” But he played for Knight, so he’s probably used to balling under trying conditions.