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“The White Shadow” was about a white former N.B.A. player, Reeves, who takes over as coach of a mostly black high school basketball team after his career was cut short by a knee injury. While the series holds a strong legacy of innovation in American television for casting African-Americans in a drama and addressing social problems, it has also resonated in Turkey, whose national team is seemingly on course to play the United States on Sunday in the final of the basketball world championships. Turkey’s rapid rise as a basketball power can be traced, in part, to “The White Shadow,” whose 54 episodes appeared on black-and-white TV here from 1980 to 1982. “It made people aware of basketball in Turkey,” said Alper Yilmaz, a former national team player who works in the front office of Efes Pilsen, a club in Istanbul that has won 13 Turkish League titles since its founding in 1976. “There was already basketball in Turkey,” Yilmaz added, “but after that show, everyone started playing.” New York Times
An American TV series having an impact on a foreign culture is not unusual, but as Turkey’s basketball infrastructure grew to where it could compete for a world title, the influence of “The White Shadow” has been unusual. “The exportation of American television was a form of empire building — empires of consciousness, not of geography — that shaped the desires, perceptions and goals of global populations in ways it is impossible to appreciate,” Thompson said. “As for ‘The White Shadow,’ the impact may have been harmless, or even positive. “I’m not so sure about other programs like ‘Dallas’ and ‘Baywatch.’ ” New York Times
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