Kelly McCarty sure doesn’t sound like a Russian name

Kelly McCarty is an American-born, naturalized player for Russia (FIBA)If you’ve been following this year’s Eurobasket, you’ll have noticed that team Russia, the 2007 defending champions,  isn’t the same squad.

Russia is missing 2007 MVP and Utah Jazz star Andrei Kirilenko, naturalized point guard J.R. Holden, as well as veteran frontcourt players Viktor Khryapa, Nikita Morgunov and Aleksey Savrasenko.

Naturalized player J.R. Holden had helmed the Russia team in several international tournaments, most recently in the  2007 Eurobasket and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Holden decided to retire from national team play prior to the 2009 Eurobasket, creating a hole in Russia’s leadership and floorplay, and not to mention an open roster spot for the one naturalized player each team is allowed by FIBA.

Quick Naturalization
Filling the roster with Russian players was not going to be a problem, there’s a large list of young players hoping to get national team experience. However due to the naturalization process, filling that one roster spot was going to take time.

At first, head coach David Blatt attempted to get a Russian passport for Doron Perkins, another American playmaker, but because Perkins had never played in the Russian league, the naturalization process for Perkins eventually failed.

From there, Blatt turned to another player he was quite familiar with – Kelly McCarty.

A 6-7 swingman from the University of Southern Mississippi, McCarty spent one season in the NBA, playing with the Denver Nuggets in 1999.  McCarty would then spend the next 13 years in European club basketball, playing with Maccabi Ness (Israel), Hapoel Jerusalem, Dynamo Saint Petersburg, and B.C. Khimki.

Despite no national team experience, the a 34-year-old, European journeyman quickly became one of the leaders on this younger version of the Russia team. McCarty is averaging a team-high 14.5 points and ranks second in the tournament with 2.0 steals going into their game with Greece today.

“You have to take your hat off to McCarty. The guy is 34 has a wife and two beautiful children. But he answered the call to the Russian national team.” said Blatt.

“Being asked to represent Russia is an honor in itself. It really doesn’t matter if it’s the U.S., Russia, Spain.” said McCarty. “Just being considered an elite player in a country, you appreciate it.”

(For more about Kelly McCarty, go to this article by FIBA Europe)


  • Baskethead

    What stops the other countries from doing the same??? Oh and another thing when these things happen can they never play for their native NT ever? or can they whore themselves to many countries as possible?

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