Last week we took your questions for ESPN Deportes' Carlos Morales. Today, we have his answers. So kick back with some chips and salsa, and jump right in to the interview that you, the faithful readers of Bright Side of the Sun helped to create.
ZonaFlash: I found an article on the globalization of basketball in Latin America. It suggests that the influence of futbol on Latino basketball players places stronger emphasis on passing, since in futbol passing is the best/only way to advance the ball. Given Steve Nash as the most futbol-like player in the NBA, what cross-influences, if any, do you see between futbol and basketball play in South America. Does a futbol player ever learn any techniques from basketball?
Carlos Morales: I don't think that soccer players in Latin America are influenced by basketball in any ways, because soccer is, most of the time, their one and only sport since they are little kids. I think it's the other way around, basketball players in South America, mainly in Argentina and Brazil, learn first from the soccer culture of sharing, sacrificing, passing, playing defense, reading opportunities that arise from their opponents' mistakes, all for the sole purpose of helping their TEAM score the one or two goals per game that can lead them to the ultimate objective, which is winning. Because of this background, their view of the game and their attitudes toward team play are very different from those of their American peers.
ZonaFlash: How has the popularity of basketball grown globally relative to futbol? In what time frame might this popularity approach that of futbol and what kind of things are happening in the NBA and elsewhere to encourage it? We also hear the NBA talk about franchises or mini-leagues in China and Europe. What's the possibility of a franchise in Mexico City or a more affordable development style mini-league in a country with a growing economy like Brazil?
Carlos Morales: Basketball popularity is definitely growing around the globe, and it is now widespread in Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa and Latin America, but make no mistakes about it, soccer still is and will be the "king" sport in most of the world in terms of fan base and spectators interest, and I don't foresee basketball challenging that supremacy in the near future. As for expansion from the NBA to other countries, I know that the Commissioner has been working with the idea of expanding to Europe for some years now. I think that the economy in Europe is such that it would permit making this possible from a financial standpoint, but there are a lot of loose ends in terms of logistics to make this work. If they have success in Europe, they might start thinking of adding some other markets that are closer to the United States, but that don't have as solid an economy as the European Community, mainly Mexico, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
Hawk42: My question has to do with Eduardo Najera. I saw him hit a three pointer yesterday. The broadcast team said he has developed a decent 3 point shot to go along with his trademark aggressiveness around the basket. I've always wanted the Suns to try and sign him. Do you think the Suns would have any interest in Najera?
Carlos Morales: I don't know if they do, but I don't see a reason why they wouldn't. Nájera is a real warrior that comes out every night to do whatever is asked of him to give his team a chance of winning. He plays defense, rebounds, fights for loose balls, sets screens, puts his body on the line to draw offensive fouls, and can score too. He is a real pro in every sense of the word, and is a great ambassador of his native country, Mexico. That would be another big advantage for the Suns if they would acquire his services, they would have an instant hero to appeal to the large Mexican-American population in Arizona.
jasonsuns1 Who are your top five favorite athletes and why? Also, who are your five favorite NBA players?
Carlos Morales: My favorite athletes of all-time all share the same characteristics; they were winners that also showed a lot of character, and their deeds transcended their sport. They are Muhammad Ali, Roberto Clemente, Pelé, Bill Russell, and Bill Bradley. My favorite current NBA players share most of those characteristics that I value from the all-time greats. They are: Steve Nash, Manu Ginóbili, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, and Dikembe Mutombo.
TexSUN: What are your thoughts about the upcoming Suns-Celtics game?
Carlos Morales: This is going to be a very tough game, in which the Suns are going to have a chance to prove if their perceived improvement in the last 7 games is for real. I know that they already beat the Celtics last month, but beating them on the road, especially less than 48 hours after playing against another top notch opponent in Detroit, would send a loud and clear message that they are ready to be real championship contenders.