Professional basketball supremacy has returned, NBA’s new season is upon us!
The National Basketball Association (NBA) will play its 78th season in 2023–24. The regular season will kick off on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, and conclude on Sunday, April 14, 2024.
Muslims are frequently well-represented in a variety of international sports leagues. From Khabib Nurmagomedov of the UFC to Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, have made significant impacts on the world of sports.
The NBA has long prided itself on being a league that embraces diversity, both on and off the court. From players of different ethnicities to various cultural backgrounds, the NBA has become a melting pot of talent from around the world. And now, we're noticing a significant rise in the number of Muslim players making their mark in the league.
Over the years, the league has witnessed some of the most prominent basketball players of all time from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon to Shaquille O’Neal and many more.
In terms of fandom, earnings, talent, and degree of competitiveness, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is the world's most major professional basketball league in the world.
More than 226 million people have liked and followed the official NBA, franchise, and player profiles on Twitter and Facebook.
This season, we have an exciting group of Muslim players who are ready to showcase their talents on the hardwood. Let's dribble right into it!
Winners: Denver Nuggets (1st title)
The Denver Nuggets won the 2022/2023 NBA Playoffs, defeating the Miami Heat in 5 games in the NBA Finals.
It was the Nuggets' first NBA championship in franchise history. Nikola Jokić was named the NBA Finals MVP, averaging 30.2 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game in the series.
Let us have a look at some of the best NBA Muslim players to look out for in the 2023/24 season:
Position: Point Guard
Kyrie Irving, a renowned figure in the NBA with an illustrious career, shines brightly as a prominent Muslim athlete.
His journey has been marked by notable achievements, commencing with the Rookie of the Year award, followed by multiple selections to the All-NBA teams and the pinnacle of an NBA championship.
Irving's on-court prowess has consistently captivated fans, showcasing his remarkable basketball skills. However, beyond the hardwood, he has emerged as a vocal advocate for his Muslim faith, highlighting its profound influence on his life and decisions. Irving's dedication to both social justice and his faith remains unwavering.
Presently, Irving takes the court as a key player for the Dallas Mavericks, where his exceptional ball-handling abilities, clutch performances, and unwavering commitment to his faith continue to serve as a source of inspiration to fans across the globe.
As a seven-time NBA All-Star and a one-time NBA champion, he stands as a player deserving of close attention in the upcoming season. Additionally, he has competed for the American national team, where he won gold at both the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Yet, it is his broader role as a prominent Muslim athlete and his ongoing endeavors to raise awareness about critical societal issues that add a layer of depth to his influence within the NBA.
"I am not alone in this..." Irving said in one of his interviews. "I have brothers and sisters all around the world who are fasting with me. We hold our prayers and meditations very sacred, and when you come out here, I mean, God's inside me, God's inside you, God's inside all of us. So, I am walking with faith, and that's all that matters.".
Thus, the 2023-2024 season promises an enthralling journey for fans and basketball enthusiasts, courtesy of Kyrie Irving's enduring impact.
Position: Shooting Guard and Small Forward
Jaylen Brown, the 26-year-old Boston Celtics forward who by all indications appears to be Muslim, made basketball history a few months back.
Jaylen Brown inked a record-breaking five-year, $304 million contract extension. This landmark deal now stands as the most lucrative in NBA history in terms of total salary, highlighting the significant impact he has made in the sport.
Brown, known for his versatility and scoring ability, has made significant strides since being drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2016. His defensive prowess and work ethic on the court have been instrumental in the Celtics' success.
In the 2022 NBA playoffs, Jaylen Brown publicly disclosed that he was fasting for Ramadan. This was not the first time he had observed the Islamic holy month, but it was the first time he had done so while competing at the highest level of basketball.
Image Credit: Dennis Schröder on Instagram
Position: Point Guard and Shooting Guard
Dennis Schröder is a German-Gambian professional basketball player who has joined the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Dennis Schroder completely dominated the FIBA EuroBasket 2022. He was one of the best scorers in the tournament. Schröder has also represented Germany on the international stage. He has played in the 2015 EuroBasket, the 2016 Olympics, and the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Schröder is a quick and athletic point guard with a good shooting stroke. He is also a good passer and defender. He is a valuable asset to any team, and he is sure to be a key player for the Raptors in the 2023-24 season.
Image Credit: Jusuf Nurkić on Instagram
Jusuf Nurkić is a Bosnian professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
In 2014, Jusuf Nurkić declared for the NBA Draft, realizing his lifelong dream of playing in the world's most prestigious basketball league. He was selected as the 16th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls but was quickly traded to the Denver Nuggets. This marked the beginning of his NBA career.
Nurkić has missed significant time due to injuries in recent years, but he remains one of the most productive centers in the NBA. He is a double-double machine, and he is also a capable defender and passer.
His performances for the national team have earned him the "Bosnian Beast" nickname complementing his 7-foot (2.1 m) height.
Image Credit: Mo Bamba on Instagram
Bamba's journey to the NBA has been nothing short of remarkable. Growing up in Harlem, New York, he faced numerous challenges and obstacles along the way. However, his dedication to the game and unwavering determination propelled him to become one of the most promising young talents in the league.
Standing at an impressive 7 feet 1 inch tall with a wingspan that seems to stretch for miles, Bamba possesses an innate ability to alter shots and protect the rim like few others can. His timing and instincts on defense are truly exceptional, often leaving opponents frustrated and hesitant when attacking the paint.
Bamba signed with the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this year.
A: 30 teams in total.
A: Yes, there have been several Muslim players who have achieved remarkable success in the NBA. Examples include Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O'Neal. These players have left an indelible mark on the league and have become iconic figures in basketball history.
A: Yes, there have been Muslim players who have won NBA championships. Players like Hakeem Olajuwon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are among the legendary champions who also happen to be Muslim.
Let us have a look at some of the best NBA Muslim players to look out for in the 2022/23 season:
Position: Point Guard
Kyrie Irving plays for the Brooklyn Nets in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Following his selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall choice in the 2011 NBA draft, he was voted the Rookie of the Year. He was a three-time All-NBA team selection and a seven-time All-Star. In 2016, he and the Cavaliers won the NBA title.
In 2017, after making it to another Finals, Irving asked for a trade and was dealt to the Boston Celtics. He played for the Celtics for two seasons before signing a free-agent contract with the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.
Additionally, he has competed for the American national team, where he won gold at both the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
When it comes to his beliefs, Irving continues to be one of the NBA's most vocal athletes. "I am not alone in this," Irving said in one of his interviews. "I have brothers and sisters all around the world that are fasting with me. We hold our prayers and meditations very sacred, and when you come out here, I mean, God's inside me, God's inside you, God's inside all of us. So, I am walking with faith, and that's all that matters."
Omer Yurtseven plays for the Miami Heat in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Yurtseven inked a contract with the Miami Heat in 2021. He signed a new contract with the Heat five days after joining them for the NBA Summer League. Yurtseven got his first career start against the Orlando Magic and finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds in a 93-83 victory.
On a national level, the 7-footer from Turkey also reached the final of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2015 after pushing Turkey to the semi-finals of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2014.
He also guided Turkey to third place at the FIBA U20 European Championship 2016 and was named to the All-Star Five despite being two years younger than the rest of the competition then.
Senegalese professional basketball player Gorgui Dieng plays for the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
During the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Dieng played for Senegal's national basketball team. Additionally, he participated in the AfroBasket competitions in 2015, 2017, and 2021, making the All-Tournament Team each time.
In order to enhance healthcare in his native Senegal, he founded the Gorgui Dieng Foundation in 2015. Since then, it has given aid, including medical supplies and equipment.
The foundation provides aid to Senegal – a country in which 29.6 percent of the 15.4 million population live in poverty, according to the World Health Organization – through four different methods: medical, food, agriculture, and athletics.
Fun fact - Gorgui means "the old one" in Dieng's native language, Wolof.
Position: Shooting Guard and Small Forward
Jaylen Brown is a professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association.
He was chosen as an NBA All-Star for the first time in 2021, and he aided the Celtics in their 2022 NBA Finals run.
Brown was chosen vice president of the National Basketball Players Association at the age of 22.
Besides basketball, Brown has a major interest in combating education and income inequality, among other social advocacy activities, through his work with MIT and his 7uice Foundation.