The Christian Science Monitor

How ‘heritage players’ are helping Vietnam build a basketball culture

Players in the Da Nang Dragons, a Vietnamese professional basketball team, practice shooting at the end of a workout. Source: Isabelle Taft

One day in 1980, a teenager named Nelson Nguyen left home in Da Nang, Vietnam.

He got onto a barge with hundreds of others fleeing their war-torn country, and disembarked at a Hong Kong refugee camp after three days at sea. It took two more months before he could send his parents a telegram to tell them he was alive. From Hong Kong he went to Washington, D.C., and then to southern California, where he raised a son who loved basketball.

Horace Nguyen grew up watching Kobe Bryant lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships. Nelson set up a hoop at home and cheered as his son played for the local rec league and travel teams, then his high school and university. As graduation approached in the spring of 2016, Horace doubted he would make a professional team – but he didn’t want to give up on his dream.

Then he heard that the Vietnam Basketball

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