Samardo Samuels (left) and Jerome Jordan will reportedly play for Jamaica. (AP)Last Thursday, I wrote a post discussing reports that Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who has made multiple appearances in international competition as a member of the Jamaican national basketball team, was seeking his release from that club in the hope of becoming part of Team USA this summer. In it, I wrote that Hibbert was the island nation's "only legitimate NBA player (unless you count Patrick Ewing Jr., maybe, and you shouldn't)."
This did not sit particularly well with the Jamaica Basketball Association, according to a statement emailed to me Tuesday by JaBA communications director Keisha Hill:
Dear Mr. Devine,
We at the Jamaica Basketball Association have read with interest your article on Mr. Roy Hibbert seeking a release from the Association to play for the USA Team. It is a good article however we would like to clarify a statement that was made in reference to our international players.
In your article as highlighted below you stated that Patrick Ewing Jnr is the only other legitimate player that is involved with our national programme. [...]
This statement actually misses a few key facts, which we hope you will correct.
There are a number NBA players who are Jamaican and who will be representing the National Team namely Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Samardo Samuels, Ryan Reid of the Oklahoma Thunder, Jerome Jordan of the New York Knicks and as you mentioned the former NBA player Patrick Ewing Jnr. All have played in the past and shall be playing in this summer's tournament which we also hope you will follow. It is unfortunate that Roy may not be a part of this team, but we believe we have credible pros to continue our considerable forward progress over the last 3 years.
This is totally fair.
Samuels played for the Jamaican national club in 2009. Jordan — a second-round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010 whose rights were then traded to the New York Knicks and who has played in Europe and the D-League for most of the past two years but did make 21 appearances for the Knicks this season — suited up for Jamaica in international competition in 2006.
While neither Samuels nor Jordan were listed as part of the Jamaican national team on its most recent roster, Reid is. And though the 2010 second-round pick has spent most of the last two years with the Tulsa 66ers of the D-League, he did play 17 minutes of NBA ball in five appearances for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. Samuels and Jordan reportedly confirmed earlier Tuesday that they would be part of the next edition of Team Jamaica; Reid and Ewing are also expected to join up.
None of these players are NBA stars on the order of All-Star Hibbert — Samuels has averaged 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in 91 career NBA contests over the past two seasons since coming out of Louisville, while Jordan, Reid and Ewing have all yet to see meaningful NBA action — and definitions of their respective values and to-date contributions as NBA players may vary. But they have all been "legitimate" NBA players; they have all worn NBA uniforms during NBA games. That much is inarguable.
My apologies, Jamaica Basketball Association. I wish your national squad the best of luck in June's Centrobasket tournament and all other competitions moving forward.