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France's love affair with NBA
26 Nov 2015 26 Nov

France's love affair with NBA

26 Nov 2015 26 Nov
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Before Joakim Noah and Nicolas Batum faced off on court at Chicago's United Center on November 13, the two members of France's national team had more pressing issues at hand.

Both players were frantically checking on their families before taking on their roles for the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets. Noah's father is former French tennis champion Yannick Noah, while Batum's sister lives near the site of one of the attacks; both of them, it turned out, were safe.

It's been a difficult time for the NBA's French diaspora following the Paris terror attacks this month. Ten French citizens -- 11 if you count Noah (though he is classified as an American by the NBA) -- play in the world's foremost basketball league and most were vocal about their compassion for the victims in their homeland, a reaction which pleased senior basketball executives back home.

"I was comforted and happy that the majority of French NBA players were so quick to react to the tragic events that shook Paris and our nation," Michel Rat, a director at France's National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance (INSEP) told CNN. "Their reactions, through written messages or strong gestures, showed us the true emotion of these players."

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz wore sneakers decorated with the French flag. Kévin Séraphin of the New York Knicks sported a buzz cut featuring the Eiffel Tower as "La Marseillaise" played at Madison Square Garden. Other players like Alexis Ajinca of the New Orleans Pelicans tweeted messages of hope.

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