Just like Steve Nash, Hakeem Olajuwon, and a few other notable NBA players of African descent, Salah Mejri was not first inclined to play basketball. He was introduced to the game at an older than usual age but was still able to fashion out a career that took him to Europe and now the United States of America where he currently plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association.
6 Things to Know About Salah Mejri
His First Sport of Choice was Soccer
While growing up, Salah Mejri revealed that he played soccer at a somewhat competitive level before he ever got a chance to bounce a basketball. He noted that soccer is a more popular sport than basketball is in his country and that there are more people willing to play it than there are those willing to learn to play basketball. By the time he was 20, however, he started his basketball career with local side Étoile Sportive du Sahel.
Liga ACB and EuroLeague Career
Salah Mejri’s first team in the Liga ACB was Obradoiro CAB who he joined in August 2012 after having spent two years with the Antwerp Giants of the Belgian League. After his first year in Spain, Mejri was named the league’s Rising Star/Best Young Player. His performances caught the attention of Real Madrid who signed him in July 2013, making him the first Arab and Tunisian player to play for the club.
In the 2013-14 season; Mejri’s first year with the Spanish giants, he averaged 3.5 points and 2.9 assists per game in 26 EuroLeague games and won the Spanish King’s Cup and Supercup. In the following season, he helped his team retain those trophies and also added the Spanish League and EuroLeague to seal the triple crown before moving to the NBA.
Salah Mejri joined the Dallas Mavericks on the 30th of July, 2015. On the opening night of the 2015-16 season, he was named on the team’s opening roster but was however only able to make his debut three days after the opening night game on the 28th of October 2015, becoming the first Tunisian to appear in an NBA game.
Mejri went on to feature in five of the Maverick’s first eight games before he was repeatedly sent on multiple assignments to the team’s G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, with his next appearance in the NBA coming on the 13th of January, 2016. In his rookie NBA season, Mejri managed only 6 starts from 34 games played, and averaged 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. In the 2016 Playoffs, he averaged 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in 4 games.
Before the start of the 2016-17 season, Mejri underwent arthroscopic surgery for a right knee debridement. He recovered in time for the start of the season where he managed to play in an NBA career-high 73 regular season games, averaging 2.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. For the 2017-18 season, he averaged 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in 61 appearances.
Salah Mejri plays for the Tunisian national basketball team at the international level and is the country’s most recognized player. He was a part of the Tunisian team that won bronze at the 2009 FIBA Africa Championships in Libya, which meant that his country, for the first time ever, was to attend the 2010 FIBA World Cup as world cup qualifications in Africa are reserved for the medal place finishers in the continental tournament.
In 2011, Mejri was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2011 FIBA Africa Championships which his country won. The win again earned the country a spot at a global showpiece event and this time, it was the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Despite only playing 5 games and losing all of them at the summer event, Mejri recorded the highest number of blocked shots.
Mejri has since that showing won one more gold medal at the 2015 African Championship hosted in his country.
Contract and Salary
On the 3rd of August 2018, Salah Mejri agreed to rejoin the Dallas Mavericks for one more year after putting pen to paper in a deal worth $1.57 million. The figure, which is the league minimum amount paid to a player with three years of NBA experience, was agreed upon by both parties after negotiations were thought to have died following Dallas’ withdrawal of a qualifying offer and the renouncing of their free agent rights on the player who had been with them since 2015.
Salah Mejri is not that tallest person to have ever played in the NBA even though he has a very impressive height of 7 feet 2 inches or 2.18 m. His weight is further listed at 235 pounds of 107 kg.