In his past the Albert Schweitzer Tournament (AST) has seen a lot of players, who became big basketball stars later. One of the most famous was Earvin Johnson, who is well-known for his name “Magic”. In 1975 the former superstar from the Los Angeles Lakers played at the AST with the winning US-Team: the beginning of a fantastic career.
Another one of those coming basketball stars playing in Mannheim was Arvidas Sabonis (AST 1981), the impressing Center from Lithuania. Before the season of 95/96 he went from Real Madrid to the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA, was elected “European Basketball Player of the year 1996”, played some great years in the NBA and finished his outstanding career in his native country with Zalgiris Kaunas.
The list of players who participated in the AST and became big basketball stars can be continued optionally: Toni Kukoc, Drazen Petrovic, Dino Radja, Valerij Tikhonenko, Igor Miglinieks, Antonello Riva, Juan San Epifanio or BJ Armstrong (3 NBA-titels with the Chicago Bulls) can be found on the list of AST competitors. In 1993 for example Tim Duncan (triple NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs, triple NBA finals MVP etc.) played in Mannheim with the US-Team and won the tournament. Several later national team players from Germany represented their country at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament as well.
1994 Vince Carter – NBA Allstar many times and Olympic champion of 2000 – participated in the AST. In the year 1996 Dirk Nowitzki (foto) – Germany´s shooting and NBA star – was a part of the AST. At the same tournament today´s NBA players Mehmet Okur (Turkey, Utah jazz), Hidayet Turkoglu (Turkey, ToJonto Raptors) and Darius Songaila (Lithuania, New Orleans Hornets) scored under the AST baskets, as well as the former NBA players Jerome Moiso (France, Boston, Charlotte, New Orleans, Toronto, New Jersey, Cleveland) and Igor Rakocevic (Jugoslavia, Minnesota Timberwolves).
Until now some more players who made it to the NBA later, are Eddie Griffin (foto, USA, Minnesota Timberwolves, died in 2007), who was the best player of the AST 2000, Tony Parker (France, San Antonio Spurs, triple NBA champion), who was on the french roster at the AST 2000, Victor Khryapa (2000, Russia, Portland Trailblazers), Ronny Turiaf (2000, France, Golden State Warriors), Boris Diaw (2000, France, Phoenix Suns) or Zoran Planinic (2000, Croatia, New Jersey Nets).
Finally french center Johan Petro (Denver Nuggets) and Andrew Bogut (Australia, Milwaukee Bucks) found their way from the AST 2002 to the strongest basketball league in the world. It was just a question of time when the first player from AST 2004 appeared in the NBA. AST-MVP Ersan Ilyasova played with the Milwaukee Bucks, so does Yi Jianli from China. Even Kyle Lowry (Houston Rockets) and Ramon Sessions (Minnesota Timberwolves, both team USA 2004) meanwhile made the step to the NBA.
Even the class of 2006 showed a lot of players with big careers in Europe or in the USA coming. Nicolas Batum (France, Portland TrailBlazers), Alexis Ajinca (France, Charlotte Bobcats) and Omri Casspi (Israel, Sacramento Kings) made it to the NBA so far. It will be just a question of time when the first player from AST 2008 will appear in the strongest league of the world.
Regarding the large number of players in the 24 Albert Schweitzer Tournament this short list cannot claim completeness.