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For Shawn Dawson, history awaits

NBA: Summer League-Brooklyn Nets at Indiana Pacers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

On a team that was, to say the least, a disappointment, 6’6” swingman Shawn Dawson was a bright spot The Israeli-born Dawson was the Nets leading scorer despite only playing 18 minutes. The 24-year-old combined some deep shooting and acrobatic drives to provide most of the team’s excitement.

As Stefan Bondy writes in Sunday’s Daily News, “Dawson believes he’s one-of-a-kind — an African-American Israeli Jew.” Dawson’s African-American father played pro ball in Israel for 20 years and his mother is a Yemeni Jew. He got noticed.

“I didn’t have too many incidents where I felt different or I faced racism or something like that. But I knew I was different in some ways,” he told Bondy. “Growing up I barely saw black people around me or in my school. But I never felt too different. That’s a good thing about my friends and wherever I went.”

He also got noticed on the court. He’s been the Israeli league’s Most Improved Player, a four-time All-Star and a champion. As Bondy notes, he’s had two previous tryouts that didn’t lead to his dream, one with the Wizards in summer league, one with the Pelicans in training camp.

Could he become the third Israeli-born player in the NBA after Omni Casspi and T.J. Leaf ? Will he get an invite, maybe a two-way, with Brooklyn? It’s possible and if he does make it, Bondy notes that he’ll likely have a ready-made rooting section, writing Brooklyn is “home to the largest Jewish population of any county in the United States.”

There’s a lot for Dawson to do before that can happen, but his agent thinks he has a shot.

“In Israel, the one thing he was missing was that mean, competitive streak that you get playing in the United States, playing in the streets,” Daniel Hazan, an Israeli-American from Manhattan, told Bondy. “That was something he didn’t have coming into training camp with the Pelicans, things like that. Now, you see that aggressiveness.”