Entertainment

Bet You Didn’t Know These NBA Players Are Latino

Latinos have impacted a lot of sports in America, and the NBA is no exception. In the past decades, Latin America has produced some superstar players. From point guards to centers, the Miami Heat to the Toronto Raptors, these players have been fun to watch. Plus, most of them have played for their home country’s national teams, including the Olympics.

Let’s explore 11 of our favorite Latino NBA players, both past and present:

1. Al Horford

Credit: Instagram @alhorford

This is Horford’s twelfth year in the NBA, where he is currently playing center for the Boston Celtics. This year the Celtics have an all-star lineup, which should make for a great season.

Credit: Instagram @alhorford

Al Horford is part of a basketball family. His father, Tito Horford, played in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Washington Bullets. Horford was born in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic before he moved with his family to Lansing, Michigan. Horford now has a family of his own, with wife Amelia Vega and two children.

2. Nenê Hilário

Credit: Instagram @nenehilario_42

Nenê is in his 18th NBA season, with stints in Denver and Washington before his current position with the Houston Rockets. Unfortunately, his long NBA career has been sprinkled with injuries. Currently, he has a strained calf that has him sitting the bench for the beginning of the 2018-19 season. But he won’t be out for long!

Credit: Instagram @nenehilario_42

Fun Fact: Nenê is not his real name. Nenê was born Maybyner Rodney Hilário in São Carlos, Brazil. Nene is a nickname meaning “baby”, because he was the youngest in his family and his group of childhood friends. He liked the nickname so much he had his name legally changed to Nenê in 2003, right after his first season in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets.

3. Jose Juan Barea

Credit: Instagram @jjbarea11

J.J. Barea is the point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. He is in his 13th NBA season, where he has played entirely for the Dallas Mavericks except for a three-season stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2011-2014. He may not be in the starting lineup, but he’s an important contributor to the game. Last season, he averaged 11.6 points per game and 6.3 assists per game.

Credit: Instagram @jjbarea11

J.J. Barea may have a big personality, but he’s a short basketball player. While listed at 6’0”, his actual height is closer to 5’10”. His big career can give any of you short players out there hope!

4. Carlos Delfino

Credit: Instagram @delfino_carlos

Carlos was born in Argentina, but holds dual citizenship with Italy as well. He played in the NBA for 8 seasons, from 2004-14, with a short break from 2008-09 to play in Europe. He started in Detroit, before playing for Toronto, Milwaukee, and Houston. His best years were with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he posted career highs and made a big impact from the three-point line.

Credit: Instagram @delfino_carlos

When he wasn’t playing in the NBA, Delfino was a big part of the Argentinian national teams. In 2001, he played on the junior team in the 2001 FIBA World Championship. He was part of the senior team for the 2004, 2008, and 2016 Summer Olympics as well as the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

5. Tiago Splitter

Credit: Instagram @tiagosplitter

Tiago had a short NBA career due to a hip injury, but it was a great one. This 6’11” played power forward and center during his seven seasons. He spent five seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, he made it to the NBA playoffs each year and became the first Brazilian to win an NBA championship in 2014. He was then traded to the Hawks and then the Philadelphia 76ers before announcing his retirement in February of 2018. Tiago was hired in April of 2018 by the Brooklyn Nets as a pro scout, with added duties related to on-court development.

Credit: Instagram @tiagosplitter

Before Tiago joined the NBA, he had an 11-year career in Europe. His professional career started at just 14 years old, which is part of what kept him out of the NBA. He was expected to declare for the 2006 NBA draft, but delayed until 2010 in part because he could make more money in the Spanish ACB League, where the NBA rookie scale salary cap did not apply.

6. Anderson Varejao

Credit: Instagram @andersonvaregao18

The Brazilian Anderson Varejao had twelve seasons with Cleveland Cavaliers, where he was a fan and team favorite. The people loved his wild hair and energetic playing, even dubbing him with the nickname “Wild Thing”. After twelves seasons, he was traded in early 2016 to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he was waived before signing in the middle of the 2016 season with the Golden State Warriors.

Credit: Instagram @andersonvarejao18

In 2016, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers made it to the NBA Finals. The Elias Sports Bureau says that Varejao is the first player in history to play for both Finals teams in the same season. Unfortunately, he didn’t not get a championship ring because the Warriors lost after being up 3-1 in the series.

7. Carlos Arroyo

Credit: Instagram @juegosdelosmejores10

Our Puerto Rican point guard is still playing internationally, even though his NBA career is over. Over 13 seasons, Arroyo played for a variety of NBA teams, including the Toronto Raptors, the Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz, the Detroit Pistons, the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat, and the Boston Celtics.

Credit: Instagram @gsbasketbolgunlugu

Arroyo also played for the Puerto Rican national team, from 2011 to 2016. During this time, he led the Puerto Rican 2004 Summer Olympics team to victory over the United States’ team.

8. Greivis Vasquez

Credit: Instagram @greivisvasquez

Greivis Vasquez grew up in Venezuela with his parents and his brother before moving to Maryland for high school to play basketball. He went to the prestigious Montrose Christian School where he played with future NBA star Kevin Durant. From there he went on to play in the NCAA at the University of Maryland.

Credit: Instagram @greivisvasquez

From college, he was drafted into the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies. He went on to play for the New Orleans Hornets, the Sacramento Kings, the Toronto Raptors, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Brooklyn Nets before being waived. His career highlights were during his years with the New Orleans Hornets, where he was the league leader in assists for the 2012-13 season.

9. Francisco Garcia

Credit: Instagram @domdeportes

Francisco Garcia is the shooting guard and small forward from the Dominican Republic. He played in college at Louisville for three years before entering the NBA draft.

Credit: Twitter @Francisco_G32

In the 2005 draft, Garcia was the 23rd pick in the first round, going to the Sacramento Kings. He played with the Kings for 8 seasons before being traded to the Houston Rockets in 2013 for his final three seasons in the NBA.

10. Luis Scola

Credit: Instagram @luis.scola

Luis Scola was born in Argentina, where he started his professional basketball career in the Aregentine league at 15 years old. He then moved to Spain in 1998, where he played for seven years with Saski Baskonia.

Credit: Instagram @luis.scola

The San Antonio Spurs drafted Scola in 2002, but were unable to negotiate a buyout with Baskonia. Finally, in 2007, the Spurs traded the rights to Scola to the Houston Rockets, and the buyout was resolved quickly. As a starter for the Rockets and then the Phoenix Suns, this power forward was a great NBA player. His NBA career ended in 2017, but he is still playing in China and for the Argentina national team.

11. Manu Ginobili

Credit: Instagram @manuginobili

Another Argentinian, Manu Ginobili had a long professional basketball career that finally ended with his retirement in August of 2018. He was one of the best – he will be missed by his Latino fans!

Credit: Instagram @manuginobili

Over 23 seasons, Ginobili is one of only two players to have won a EuroLeague title, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal. He actually won four NBA championships, all with the San Antonio Spurs.

This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

Entertainment

This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Sirenas Especiales (Special Mermaids) is giving girls with Down Syndrome in Mexico a chance to show off their athletic abilities in synchronized swimming. The team and program were organized by Paloma Torres, a former synchronized swimmer from Peru, after she studied educational psychology. Her thesis was on the cognitive benefits of synchronized swimming. With that and a little patience, Sirenas Especiales was born.

Sirenas Especiales is tearing down the stigma and misinformation about people with Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Coach Paloma Torres knew that people with Down Syndrome are often very creative and flexible. Those two characteristics are perfect for synchronized swimming so she knew that it would be a great idea to get a group of girls together.

However, Torres and Sirenas Especiales immediately faced pushback from local pools in Mexico City because of the girls’ Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

“I had to find a swimming pool where we could organize regular practices. At first, I couldn’t find anywhere. One pool even refused entry to my swimmers, saying that they might contaminate other swimmers! It was really disheartening at first — both for me and for the girls’ parents,” Torres told France24. “Finally, I found the Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez pool, which is located in southern Mexico City. I’ve been training the group there since 2011.”

The team overcame the initial mistreatment from local pools and have been competing in national and international competitions.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Their Instagram is filled with photos of the team holding medal from the various competitions they have participated in. They’ve competed all over Mexico and were recently at the PanAm games to cheer on Mexico’s national synchronizing team.

The team continues to grow with more girls and boys wanting to participate in synchronized swimming.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Torres currently trains about 20 swimmers between 14 and 30. There are three boys who are part of the team and 17 girls, according to France24. It seems clear that the swimmers enjoy their chance to show off their own athletic abilities.

The sport is doing more than just giving them something to do.

Este día tan especial Sirenas Especiales darán entrevista en Capital 21 Canal 21 en TV abierta, no se lo pierdan a las 10:35am en VIVO!!!!! FELIZ DÍA MUNDIAL DEL SINDROME DE DOWN Edith Perez Rocio Hernández Martínez Paloma Torres Montserrat Vega Triny Turcio Blanca Olivia Fontes Machado Araceli Vazquez Loredo Beatriz Mendoza Castañón China Li Lourdes Castellanos Daniel Perez Martinez

Posted by Sirenas Especiales on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This sport helps participants improve their concentration and memory,” Torres told France24. “However, most importantly, this activity helps them integrate socially. They participate regularly in competitions both nationally and internationally, which sometimes include swimmers without disabilities. Our team has won about 50 medals. They become more social and their work is applauded. It’s also important for their families because some of them don’t think that these girls will make something of their lives.”

One thing Sirenas Especiales is doing to changing the narrative around disabilities one synchronized swim at a time.

Credit: Sirenas Especiales / Facebook

The swimmers are showing everyone that you can do anything you set your mind to. There is nothing that can keep them from participating in the sport that they love and enjoy.

Congratulations, swimmers.

We can’t wait to see what you do next.

READ: The Internet Was Having A Collective Sob Fest After A Video Of Young Disabled Man’s Reaction To Getting His First Job Goes Viral

Simone Biles Slayed During The U.S. Gymnastics Championships And Made History Twice And Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

Entertainment

Simone Biles Slayed During The U.S. Gymnastics Championships And Made History Twice And Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

To say, American gymnast, Simone Biles can’t practice her athletic art form under pressure is to completely misunderstand her strength. The 22-year-old from Colombus, Ohio, has already accomplished what many can’t even fathom. This week the Olympic gold medalist made history on the competitive mat just a couple of days after she confronted the USA Gymnastics for failing to protect her, and more than 150 women, from a sexual predator. 

On August 11, Simone Biles landed perfectly after doing a triple-double at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City. 

Let us break down what that actually means because it truly is a thing of beauty. Biles successful jumped into the air and completed two flips and three full twists and stuck the landing. She tried to do this exact move on Friday but failed on the landing. This time, however, Biles landed it amazingly. She’s the first woman to have ever completed this move. 

This move is no easy fete for the 4’8 gymnast. As someone on social media noted, Biles, at the peak of her jump, is close to 10 feet off the mat, which is two feet higher than the high jump world record. Insanity!!

On Friday, she also made history by pulling off a double-double dismount off the balance beam. 

That means she did two twists and two somersaults like its no one’s business. All of these historic firsts garnered Biles a record-tying sixth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. So who could possibly have the same title as Biles? No one in the past several decades, that’s for sure. In the 1940s and 1950s, American gymnast Clara Schroth Lomady also received the same honor of sixth all-around. 

After her historical landing, Biles was quite pleased with her performance. 

Credit: Instagram/@simonebiles

“That feeling when you make history…. twice,” she said on Instagram. And this is all build-up to the main event. Biles, of course, is headed to Tokyo next year for the 2020 Olympics, where’s she’s naturally going to add on to her gold medals, but no pressure. (!!!)

Her incredible routine is quite impressive when you consider that the star athlete is competing for organizers who were enablers in her own sexual abuse.

Last year, a Michigan judge sentenced Dr. Larry Nassar, a physical therapist, 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than a hundred gymnasts some were as young as six years old. The abuse lasted for decades, and Biles was one of his victims. 

On August 7, Biles told reporters that it was the U.S. Gymnastics Championships and other institutions that assisted Nassar in his abuse by protecting him.

“You had one job. You literally had one job, and you couldn’t protect us,” Biles said in her addressed statement to USA Gymnastics, according to CNN. ‘It’s hard coming here for an organization, having had them fail us so many times. We had one goal. We have done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn’t want to, and they couldn’t do one damn job.”

Despite Biles’ horrific abuse she endured, her moves on the mat show her incredible strength and dedication to the sport.

Credit: Instagram/@simonebiles

The Texan native said she wasn’t sure if she’d succeed in those now-groundbreaking landings. She said, however, that she was striving for ultimate perfection, even if that meant failing the first time. Sounds like she’s a firm believer of the motto, “if at first, you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again.” 

“I feel like I compete for perfection,” she told the Olympic Channel days before her competition, “so whenever I don’t do that, it really irritates me.” 

Biles also told the network that she doesn’t even think about her titles and records until someone brings it up to her in conversation. Talk about humble. If Biles doesn’t do the bragging, her friends and fans will do it for her. 

Several fans, including celebs, touted her magical moves on Twitter.

As for the future of gymnastics in the U.S., and their beloved athletes, Li Li Leung, the president, and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, told CNN, that understand they are to blame for their part in their abuse and are doing everything they can to change the culture of silence. 

“One of our goals is for our athletes to feel comfortable in speaking up and sharing their opinions, and we are listening to what they have to say,” Leung said. “We will continue to work hard to demonstrate to Simone and all of our athletes, members, community, and fans that we are working to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athlete voices are heard.” 

Now on to the Olympics!

READ: We’re ‘Un Poco Loco’ Over This Mexican Gymnast’s ‘Coco’ Floor Routine And Charro-Inspired Outfit

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