Why Are These American Basketball Players Playing in Iraq for $20k a Month?

“I get the urge but then I look outside and realize where i’m at” says Brandon Givens, an American basketball player playing in Iraq and in the shadows of F’ed up militant group ISIS.

Givens, who led the nation in scoring a couple of years ago, is one of 29 Americans playing on one of the 9 teams in Iraq’s Superleague. A league that pays players between 4,000 to 10,00o a month with the top American players getting paid as much as $20k which makes them among the highest paid public employees in Iraq.  The Government funded league pays it’s top locals players up to $12,000 a month.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the players live in modest hotels, are shuttled to the arena in a beat-up van, practice in facility without locker rooms and team benches are re purposed airport lounge seats!

But are they looked after by the coaching staff?

“If there’s an explosion nearby, we tell them it’s fireworks from a celebration,” said assistant coach Rafid Abdel Hussein.

Well, I’m sold!

You can read more about Americans playing in Iraq by reading this article by Peter Holley of the Washington Post.