Dr Music wrote:This whole thing with Greece and the National Teams has always been confusing. Kurt Rambis got to play a year with AEK because his grandfather was Greek. I moved to Greece at 14. By 16 I had progressed enough to be practicing with both the local junior and mens teams as well as being invited to played with the 16-under and 20-under team. Despite both my parents (and all decendents)being born in Greece, I was denied the paperwork on the basis that I was not Greek but American having been born in the US. So never got to play in Greece except for playing for the American High School there along with Rony Seikaly and getting to compete in tourneys with guys like Steve Kerr who was going to school in Cairo. Of course for years later I could not move to Greece because then I'd have to go to the Greek army, thus I would have to go because I was Greek, but I could not play ball because I was NOT Greek. So they pick and choose who they want to play.
Greece changes its laws since then. You are talking about two different issues. Seikaly qualified for Greek citizenship, and to play in the national team, and he eventually did get Greek citizenship. The reason he did not play in the Greek national team was simple. He did not want to wait for his citizenship to get processed. He had to stay in Greece to do that, but he wanted to go to the US to play college basketball.
So instead of waiting to get his Greek citizenship at the time (he got it later), he went to the US. But then when he was in the US, he got naturalized and Team USA put him in the world championship. That ended his eligibility of playing with Greece.
Since that time, the laws for citizenship were amended from that time of Seikaly's case. Back then, you had to wait for citizenship based on when you applied, and you could not hurry it up. They changed the rules that if you could "contribute something important to Greek society" (it's worded something to that effect), that your processing time would be sped up and you would move to the head of the list, along with others in the same situation, and get citizenship quicker.
So what used to take several years of time (like for Seikaly), became now I think it is just 1 year of time in most cases, and even like maybe 6 months of time in some cases.
They are not picking and choosing who gets citizenship or who gets to play for the national team. FIBA's rules won't permit that, and in fact they would ban the Greek national team from all competitions if they were doing that. That is against FIBA's bylaws, and they have banned numerous national teams for doing stuff like that.
Greece basketball federation follows the rules of nationality and national team eligibility set forth under the law. They are not randomly picking one person or another for eligibility. If they were doing that, FIBA would definitely ban them, as that is an egregious violation of FIBA rules.
Today, Seikaly would not have had to wait so many years for his citizenship, and he would have gotten it like in a year probably. So he would have not played for Team USA, and he would have ended up playing for Greece instead. Today, the situation would have played out differently.
The case of Peja though was not like that. He could play for Greece's national team as a naturalized player, FIBA allows 1 now and allowed 2 back then. But Greece's government decided that the players from ex Yugoslavia that came to Greece as kids to escape the situation in Yugoslavia could not represent Greece because of the extremely hostile political situation, and Greece did not want to get accused of doing anything politically motivated in that way. After that happened, they basically just set a precedent that no naturalized players could be in the national teams. Even though it was pretty much that way before, they made it a policy.
As far as Rambis is concerned, I don't remember if he was considered for the national team or not. Obviously, he would have been eligible, with the Greek American diaspora rule. But I can't remember ever hearing that he was recruited to the national team. Which is is a bit odd now that I think about it. Maybe he did not want to play for the national team.