The comparisons between the NBA and international basketball have gained momentum recently following statements by various stars in the sport, with Kevin Durant just last Saturday resenting a fan who supported the claims of Euroleague legend Kyle Haynes who said that the best league in the world is a "checker" compared to Europe's top enterprise that is "chess." The latest reference to the issue came from Dwyane Wade, who was a guest on Tony Parker's show on Skweek.
"Where I grew up, when we saw a white guy we thought, 'Oh, he's in my pocket.' The perception was there was no way he was better than you," Wade explained. "A lot of African-Americans have spoken from this assumption, which to some extent shows ignorance. We thought the international players were soft."
The former player, who won three NBA championships and an Olympic gold medal, was also involved in Team USA's historic losses at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the 2006 World Championships. "All of a sudden I came to international basketball and I said, 'Oh, they're actually talented.' World basketball is tougher. Frankly, American basketball is the softer."
Didn't expect toughness. Wade on Team USA in 2006/Getty Images, Koichi Kamoshida
Wade added: "The experience of participating in international tournaments changed my perception immediately, everything I had thought before. The game was different, more physical. We thought we'd break them all down. Until 2004, we never lost and all of a sudden we walked into the locker room and thought, 'We just got washed away. We invented this game!' When you're young, everything is based on what you hear and perceive, but the truth is that you don't have the experience to understand."
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