you've ever visited or spent any time on the Navajo reservation,
you know how much the people there love basketball.
like every home has a backboard and rim - sometimes just the rim.
common for fans to start lining up outside gymnasiums at 4 p.m.
for a 7 p.m. high school game. It's the same on many reservations.
why we think it's pretty cool that a group has organized a Native
American National Team, which will compete next season in the American
team, which will be based in Albuquerque and tentatively plans to
play at the University of New Mexico's "Pit," will be
the first Native American club in a professional sports league.
then the ABA is different that way. Of the 33 teams expected to
be in the league for the 2004-05 season - up from seven last season
- 23 are owned by African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans
to the man behind the plan, Spider Ledesma, the ABA team is a means
to an end.
is Ledesma's vision - literally, because he says the Lord laid it
out to him seven years ago - to have a Native American team eligible
for the Olympics.
looked up this stuff and thinks it will work.
investigating aspects of our sovereignty, I found out we should
be allowed to compete in the Olympics," he said. "Guam,
Puerto Rico, Samoa and the Virgin Islands all have their own Olympic
programs. The citizens of those countries are U.S. citizens, just
like Native Americans are."
Ledesma is hoping the ABA will provide a platform for the developmental
tryout camps are scheduled across the nation to evaluate Native
American prospects. There is a tryout in Phoenix Aug. 21 and one
in Albuquerque July 24.
of Native American heritage who is a high school graduate is eligible.
Information is available at nativeamericacamps.com.
We should note here there's a substantial fee - $200 - for the tryout
camps, but the proceeds go toward paying the ABA franchise fee.
40, figures to be one of the stars of the team. A member of a Mission
Indians tribe in Southern California, the 6-foot-11 Ledesma played
on Mexico's national team in the Pan-American Games. He spent a
preseason with the Los Angeles Clippers and most recently played
Davis, a 6-11 member of the Seminole Nation in Oklahoma, and Joseph
Prue, a 6-6 Sioux swingman, also are expected to be on the team.
Ledesma figures the camps will provide an opportunity to form the
ABA roster, and also identify prospects for future national and
junior national teams.
may be some younger players who aren't quite ready," he said.
"We'll know who they are from the camps."
Ledesma believes one of those young players will reach the game's
why I founded the program," he said. "I got tired of seeing
great talent literally go to waste. In the next several years, we'll
have a Native American in the NBA."