Hoops Stars Make a Fast Break for the Mideast

December 10, 2010  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — Loren Woods has seen his share of raucous basketball crowds.  He saw them when he played in college at Arizona, and then in the National Basketball Association, where he played for Minnesota, Miami and Houston. He’s endured the taunts of fans in Istanbul and Iran, and dodged debris dropped from grandstands in Zaragoza and Lithuania. So far, the 7’2″ center says he’s impressed with crowd control in Lebanon.  “You see 20 guys with AK-47s, you’re going to think twice about hurling a bottle,” the 32-year-old St. Louis native shouts, struggling to be heard over the roaring faithful just moments before tip-off at Beirut’s Al-Riyadi Sports Club. As he speaks, Lebanese soldiers pat down fans entering the arena. Police bearing Plexiglas riot shields eye the stands for troublemakers.

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