The National Basketball Association has contacted the State Department to understand how President Donald Trump’s executive order to suspend immigration from seven countries could impact the league’s players.
Deng and Maker are from the South Sudan, which became an independent country in 2011. While the Sudan is one of the seven Muslim-laden countries included in Trump’s immigration ban, the South Sudan is not on the list. Many top basketball prospects are from the South Sudan, not the Sudan.
Before a federal court in New York issued a ruling to suspend Trump’s order to ban, NBA spokesman Mike Bass issued a statement saying: “We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries.
“The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world.”
The NBA has several global initiative programs, including Basketball Without Borders, that recruit, develop and invest in Sudanese players. Several top Sudanese players are attending American high schools and colleges on visas and could become NBA draft picks.
The NBA is holding a Basketball Without Borders camp at All-Star Weekend in New Orleans in February, where the NBA will showcase top international amateur talent from outside the United States. There are no players from the seven banned countries on the BWB invitation list, a league source told The Vertical’s Jonathan Givony.
Maker left the Sudan as a toddler with his family, landing in Australia and ultimately coming to the United States and Canada to play high school basketball. He holds an Australian passport.
Deng’s family left the Sudan at 5 years old, and came to the United States as a teenager.