By Daniel Faris
It’s that time of the year again.
Time for kids to go back to school and parents to regain a little sanity. It’s also the time of year overseas players have to start reporting to their teams, and for other players to sweat it out until they get their contract.
My basketball journey has taken me back to the motherland. Back to where my last name, Faris, originates: Lebanon.
I know what you’re thinking; “Lebanon? In the Middle East? Is that safe?” I thought the same thing before spending a good chunk of my adult life there. Lebanon is one of the most unique places I have ever been. It is one of the only areas in the Middle East where Christians and Muslims co-exist and thrive together. The most surprising thing about Lebanon, though, is the passion people have for the professional basketball league.
(VIDEO: Former Lobo Daniel Faris shares a video shot on a TV from a brawl at a game he played in Lebanon in about 2014. His team, Sagesse, was playing a team called Riyadi. Faris was in one of the green jerseys. Lebanon fans, like Lobo fans, are very passionate about their basketball.)
My first year playing professionally overseas was in southern Holland. I enjoyed the European experience. Paris was a six-hour drive, Belgium was where I went almost every weekend and Germany was just a hop-skip away. The only bad part is that Holland, or the Netherlands, is a country crazed about soccer, not leaving a ton of money, resources or fans for basketball. My team made it to the finals that year; those finals games were our only televised games of the season. Safe to say, I was extremely spoiled with 18,018 fans crammed into the Pit to watch us play.
I don’t get to play in venues the size of the Pit, but there are times the packed arenas in Lebanon bring out the same energy.
I also learned that you can easily get some crowds worked up with political hand gestures and start a riot (luckily I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way).
Below is a Tweet by Barstool Sports. Click the image to visit the Tweet and watch the video. Faris played with this guy, former Maryland star Terrell Stoglin, two years ago in Lebanon. This was last week in Venezuela. WARNING: Middle finger on video link.
I left for Lebanon on Sunday to join the national team for world cup qualifying games (I’m a dual citizen; American/Lebanese), and then join Champville club for the regular season.
I’m so excited to represent my country on the world stage in Asia and work toward a regular season championship. I know many people don’t get this opportunity, so I am working my tail off to make the most of it. The decision to go isn’t easy for me though. I have to leave my three kids and wife for the next eight months. If my wife wasn’t Superwoman, I don’t know how any of this would work.
This is going to be my 10th professional season. I may never have made the NBA like every kid dreams, but man, I get to play basketball for a living. I can’t complain one bit. Lebanon is truly a country that I have grown to love. It has opened my eyes to cultures and ways of thinking that I am forever thankful for. Oh, and don’t forget the spit dodging … can’t emphasize learning that skill quick enough.
Former Lobo basketball player Daniel Faris plays professionally in Lebanon and is a contributor to Enchantment Sports. He will do a series of ‘Where are they now?’ stories about former Lobo athletes. Today, he found himself — in Lebanon again.