Seattleites are no strangers to foreign imports. Germany, however, is not a country with a particularly strong influence in our everyday lives. We drink beer, we grill brats, but Germanic culture in Seattle pretty much stops there. Perhaps this is why nobody within 20 square miles of Puget Sound raised the roof when the Sonics selected some German dude in last week's NBA draft.
The guy's name is Peter Fehse (pronounced Fah-za). If you haven't heard of him, don't worry—the 6-foot-11 power forward is so obscure that he wasn't included in the NBA's draft media guide. Even Sonics coach Nate McMillan didn't have a clue; when reporters asked him what he knew about the import, he laughed and likened the pick to a "blind date."
Granted, with the 49th overall pick in the draft, the Sonics shouldn't have expected the next Michael Jordan. Still, you have to wonder what general manager Rick Sund was thinking. Can Fehse be the next Dirk Nowitzki, an import who nearly led the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference Championships this year? Considering he isn't even expected to join the team this season, considering he's a power forward with as much of a post game as Vin Baker, the answer is a resounding no.
It appears that Sund and the Sonics got caught up in what was an alarmingly foreign-flavored draft. The Houston Rockets' No. 1 selection of Chinese center Yao Ming began an international invasion that led to five of the first 16 selections coming from overseas. By the end of the night, representatives from the "National" Basketball Association had tabbed a record 17 imports overall, an embarrassing comment on the dwindling talent level among players from American soil. Many of these foreign players have the skills that warrant a chance in the NBA, but Peter Fehse? The guy will never be able to muscle himself out of a Ziploc bag.
Drafting foreign players for the sake of drafting foreign players makes you look good to the public. But extending an effort across international borders for athletes who truly can make a difference makes you look good in the standings as well, which, in the end, is really all that matters anyway. Perhaps the next time the Sonics choose to go through customs on draft day, they should consult with Pat Gillick, the general manager of the Mariners. Though Gillick has erred when overpaying All-American hacks such as Bret Boone and Mike Cameron, when it comes to tabbing and nabbing foreign players, he can't help but throw down slam dunks. Heck, even in a game of one-on-one hoops, I'd take Ichiro over Fehse any day.