The Charlotte Bobcats learned this week that they will be without center DeSagana Diop for the rest of the National Basketball Association season after an MRI revealed that he had ruptured his right Achilles tendon. Diop was having a very quiet season for the Bobcats, averaging only 1.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in just 11.3 minutes per game. He had made an appearance in only 16 of Charlotteâ€™s games this year.
The 7â€™0â€ Diop was born in Dakar, Senegal, but moved to the United States as a kid. He began playing basketball as a teenager and quickly came to dominate the high school scene at basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He was ultimately named USA Today Virginia High School Player of the Year after leading Oak Hill to an undefeated season and the number one ranking in the country. He garnered enough attention at a young age to then be taken with the eighth overall selection in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Unfortunately Diop failed to receive much playing time in Cleveland, which stunted his development. He moved on in 2005 to the Dallas Mavericks, where he found his niche as a rebounder, defender, and especially a shot-blocker. And in the 2005-2006 season he finished 11th in the NBA in total blocked shots while leading the Maverick to the NBA finals. He was subsequently traded to the New Jersey Nets in February 2008 as a part of the trade that sent Jason Kidd to Dallas for Devon Harris. However, Diop returned right back to Dallas only five months later, signing with the Mavericks as a free agent in July of 2008. He played there for one more year before being traded to Charlotte in January of 2009.
While this is an immediate blow to Diopâ€™s career, he is in fact a hard-working and intelligent (he speaks five languages) individual and should bounce back. And in the sporting ummah, where one door closes another opens up, as Diopâ€™s injury will likely lend more playing time to his fellow Muslim, Nazr Mohammed.