When discussing the possibility of the Sixers re-signing Ersan Ilyasova in the offseason, one might bring up his age. At 29, he’s in the prime of his career but perhaps “old” as it relates to the Sixers’ timetable. He could easily be productive for 3-4 more years and help the Sixers out with floor spacing, if they decide he’s worth re-signing. But what if he’s actually 32? What if he’s not actually from Turkey? What if his name isn’t even Ersan?
As I often do, I was sitting here thinking about Sixers’ prospect Furkan Korkmaz, a Turkish 19-year-old currently playing overseas. As Ilyasova is also Turkish, I found a picture of the two of them together and made a dumb tweet:
When you're still in Turkey but ya boi is keeping your team warm for you pic.twitter.com/9DVuQdiNRn
— Jim Adair (@jimadair3) February 9, 2017
Then, I was alerted by @IgglesHQ to a decade-plus old conspiracy theory about Ilyasova’s home country, age, and name. r/Sixers talked about it at the end of last year. I had never heard it. Here’s the basic breakdown:
Back in 2002, a man named Arsen Ilyasov – born in 1984 – came to Turkey from his home in Uzbekistan. He was never heard from again. However, a month later, “a man named Semsettin Bulut told the Turkish authorities that he had forgotten to register his 15-year-old son, and so he registered him as Ersan Ilyasova.” “Forgetten to register,” by the way, means forgot to register his birth. So 15 years is late, but better late than never, right? At the time, Turkish authorities investigated and found there was no record of an Ersan Ilyasova, born in 1987, in their files.
A year later, the Uzbekistan Basketball Federation sent a letter of protest to FIBA claiming that as an Uzbekistani named Arsen Ilyasov, “Ersan Ilyasova” wasn’t a legal Turkish citizen and should have been disqualified from playing in the European Championship and the Turkish Junior Champonship due to his falsified age. An Uzbekistani newspaper claimed to have paperwork verifying the immigration of Arsen, and the registration of a 15-year-old Ersan. They were not able to definitively prove that Ilyasov and Ilyasova were the same person or different people.
After investigating, FIBA sided with the Turkey and confirmed Ilyasova’s Turkish status.
Ersan Ilyasova? Arsen Ilyasov? If we’re not sure, I guess we should just call him “The Professional.”