One of the things we like to do here is monitor the ever-changing nationalities of players. Acquiring various passports can be highly useful for a professional basketball player, as they can be used to bypass various regulations regarding numbers of imports that most leagues enforce upon their teams. This often leads to the always-amusing sight of various players (often American) scoring passports from nations they have no connection with, purely because they can buy them. Only a fortnight ago, Taurean Green and Quinton Hosley did exactly the same thing.
Another addition can now be made to that list. Former Utah State forward and two-time Jazz signee Spencer Nelson has broken new ground, acquiring not one of the standard Macedonian or Georgian passports, but an Azerbaijani one. This makes him the only Azerbaijani basketball player you’ve ever heard of. And unless you’re Polish and incredibly up to date on your PLK knowledge – Turow just signed an Azerbaijani centre called Alex Rindin – then he’s also the only Azerbaijani player you’ve ever going to hear of.
Nelson took seven years to use up his four years of academic eligibility at Utah State. This is partly because he tore his knee up in his sophomore season and took a medical redshirt, but also because Nelson took two years out to go on a Mormon mission. Nelson is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is presumably now the only such member to also be an Azerbaijani passport holder.
You couldn’t make it up. Well, you could, but you don’t have to.