The Ambassador

Basketball one-on-one

Knight Ridder News Service

TEHRAN, Iran – The closest thing to an American ambassador in Iran is a 7-foot-2 giant who speaks with a Caribbean lilt and sheepishly admits that he listens to Conway Twitty.

Spread EagleGarth Joseph, a New Yorker who was born on the island of Dominica, is by far the most recognizable player in Iran’s national basketball league. On the court, he towers over opponents as a fearsome star who’s known for his rebounds. On the sidelines, he melts into smiles and hugs for his awestruck young fans.

Local sportswriters dubbed him ”The Ambassador,” an apt name for a person who’s learning how to navigate politics, sports and religion in the Islamic Republic.

”They’re tall and big and can catch all the rebounds and make all the shots. They rescue the teams,” said Mahin Gorgi, an Iranian journalist who covers basketball for the local sports paper Goal.

Gorgi said the American players delight Iranian fans with their tattoos, victory dances and shouts of ”Yeah, baby!” whenever they score.

To read the Full article: | 05/07/2006 | American basketball players in Iran shoot hoops, win fans

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