The 2011 NBA playoffs have generated a few interesting stories: the fall of the L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics; the emergence of a young superstar in Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant; the timely gelling of Miami's roster of mercenaries. But the NBA, a league that has made deliberate moves toward globalization over the last two decades, might be most interested in telling the tale of the Dallas Mavericks.
Led by German power forward Dirk Nowitzki, who's averaging 28 points per game in the postseason, Dallas often has a Serb (Peja Stojakovic), a Puerto Rican (J.J. Barea) and Nowitzki on the floor at the same time. And Frenchmen Rodrigue Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi help make Dallas a realization of league commissioner David Stern's vision of the NBA as a global brand.
The league has television deals that broadcast games in more than 200 countries in 40-plus languages. And savvy coaches and general managers always on the lookout for under-the-radar talent benefit from an ever-growing pool.
At the beginning of the season, 84 foreign players were on NBA rosters, a number that should only increase over time.
"It started out where it was just a big guy, slow moving," Stern said, describing the stereotypical international player on The Charlie Rose Show in 2008. "Now, the players develop attitude. And the attitude comes from Spain, France, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, China."
Dallas led Oklahoma City three games to one going into Wednesday night. A victory will put them in the NBA finals against either Chicago or Miami.