Immigration through the Prism of the NBA Playoffs

joshuabratterAthlete Visa

Immigration NBA Playoffs

I don’t play basketball.

In fact, I didn’t start watching the game until my 15-year-old son became a Heat lifer in 2006. Since then, I’ve been to three finals, witnessed the Big 3 era, experienced the entire career arc of Dwayne Wade and watched him hoist three Larry O’Brien trophies. In that blink of an eye, there has been a tectonic shift in NBA demographics; a tremor that went from a 4 on the Richter scale, all the way to a full-on earthquake.

Today I am at the NBA Finals in Toronto, another country. No LA, no Spurs, no Heat. . . Toronto. I’ve seen playoff series dominated by the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Pascal Siakam, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Rudy Gobert. And let’s not forget the first possible Asian-American NBA champion, Jeremy Lin. Where there was once only NY’s Spike Lee and LA’s Jack Nicholson as perennial sideline superfans, now we have Canada’s Drake.

I don’t play basketball; I am an Immigration Lawyer. As the debate concerning immigration rages to an inferno, perhaps a little analogy…

Has the league become less competitive?

Have salaries and revenue gone down?

Has the purported Americanness of the sport been diluted?

I would say a resounding No to all.

The sport has become more inclusive, more competitive, more international, and more representative of the American ideal, and the American world we live in. Diversity has always been America’s greatest and most unique strength. The culmination of the nation-state, a country truly representative of the global community.

I love the dominance of Golden State, and marvel at their revolutionary creativity, drive and excellence. But I am hoping to see the Larry O’Brien in Jurassic Park, with the Spanish Marc Gasol and Cameroonian Pascal Siakam front and center. A reward of universality, equality and apoliticism; a symbol of the inspiring dynamic of athletics.


Joshua Bratter, Esquire
Connor Jetta
Robert Hajir, JD
Maximo Bratter

The writers are with the law firm and agency of Bratter PA.

We are an Immigration Law firm with a focus on athlete representation. We wanted to add a new voice to the immigration conversation

This letter was originally published in The Miami Herald

More about the NBA, international players and immigration:

Canada Becomes a Basketball Factory @ The New York Times

Things to know about these most-international NBA Finals @ AP News