Syria Rumors

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Walker left in June 2011 as the only N.B.A. player to have graced the courts in Syria, where he said he scored “at least” 16 points in his final game in the Syrian basketball league, a few weeks before he returned to Los Angeles. It was the championship final against Al Geish (“The Army”) from Damascus. “I remember it being a collective team effort, we had some guys who really stepped up that game,” Walker said, with nostalgia in his voice. “The other team did a really good job of doubling on me and there were guys on my team who understood that it wasn’t just the Samaki Walker show.”
In early 2012, Madanly said al-Nusra kidnapped his brother for 10 days, demanding a ransom while Madanly worried anxiously in Manila, where he ended up playing in the competitive local league. Other Al Jalaa teammates have also fled, to Canada, Denmark, Lebanon, and Turkey. Walker, whose first name means “fish” in Swahili, is pained by the horrors of the conflict but feels he has a responsibility to bear witness to the splendor of the now ravaged country and its dispossessed people. Still, he maintains a low-key affect about his experience. “Who am I?” he said. “I am just a guy who played basketball in Syria.”