EuroCup Star Turn: Boris Diaw

Aug 27, 2020 by Print
EuroCup Star Turn: Boris Diaw

Versatile forward Boris Diaw was destined for sporting greatness from a young age. His mother, Elisabeth Riffiod, was a basketball star and mainstay on the French women's national team and his father, Issa Diaw, was a high jump champion in his native Senegal. Boris had already put together a brilliant career that included a EuroBasket gold medal and an NBA championship before he decided to finish his playing days with Boulogne Metropolitans 92 in the 7DAYS EuroCup.

What came before

Diaw was a top prospect as a teenager who displayed an all-around game that wowed scouts at INSEP, France's elite national sports academy. In the summer of 2000, Diaw teamed with Tony Parker and Mickael Pietrus to lead France to the gold medal at the U-18 European championships. He began his professional career the following season with Pau-Orthez where his role slowly grew over his three seasons there, including two in the EuroLeague. Diaw helped the club win a pair of French League crowns and was a starter in his final season with Pau.

Diaw began what would be a 14-season stay in the NBA in 2003 when he penned a multi-year deal with Atlanta. His skills did not translate well to that team's style of play and after two seasons Diaw was on the move when he was traded to Phoenix. There Diaw found his stride and averaged 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists in the 2005-06 season, after which he was named the NBA's Most Improved Player. He helped the team reach the Western Conference finals that season and the playoffs in each of his three full campaigns with the club. Diaw was traded to Charlotte during the 2008-09 season and played there for three years until he joined San Antonio late in the 2011-12 season. Though he played fewer minutes per game in his four-plus seasons in San Antonio, Diaw found some of his greatest success. He teamed with his French national teammate Parker to reach the 2013 NBA finals and win the title the following season. Diaw played for Utah in 2016-17 in what would be his final season in the NBA.

The French national team knew it could always count on Diaw, who represented his country's senior team almost every summer from 2003 through 2017. During that time, he played in the Olympics twice, in the Basketball World Cup three times and EuroBasket eight times. He took home a gold medal at EuroBasket 2013, a silver at EuroBasket 2011 and bronze medals at the EuroBaskets in 2005 and 2015 as well as the 2014 World Cup.

EuroCup experience

Diaw was 35 years old when he decided to return home to France and play for Levallois Metropolitans in the 2017-18 season. He made his EuroCup debut on opening night against eventual champion Darussafaka Istanbul and produced 4 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in a narrow loss. He posted a double-double in Round 4 with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Fiat Turin. However, Metropolitans again lost a close game and did not get into the win column until Round 5 against Cedevita Zagreb.

The second half of the regular season was when Diaw really turned it on. He dominated with 20 points and 12 rebounds at Darussafaka, had 23 points, 8 boards and 4 assists versus Turin and 15 points and 10 assists against MoraBanc Andorra in Round 9, but that last game would be his last in the competition as Metropolitans bowed out with a 2-8 record. Diaw finished his lone EuroCup campaign ranked fifth in the regular season with 7.1 rebounds per game and 10th in performance index rating (18.0). He also posted 11.0 points and 4.6 assists per game.

What came after

Diaw's numbers for Metropolitans were similar in the French League, where he averaged 11.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists over 31 games. He posted a triple-double in one game and put up impressive statistics all season, but his team missed the playoffs. In September 2018, Diaw announced his retirement as a player, though he remained active with the club and served as its president for the 2019-20 season.