Scores of American players make their livings in Russia and Ukraine. But the war forced them to make tough decisions about their futures
As is often the case in times of war, Jordan Swing and Troy Barnies struggled with who to believe at the start of February as Russian troops gathered on the border of Ukraine, where they both played professional basketball. On one hand, Joe Biden had urged American citizens to leave Ukraine within 48 hours. On the other hand, their teams had said they should stay where they were. Swing, a former standout at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, said his team went as far as threatening him with fines should he leave.
“My Ukrainian team [MBC Mykolaiv] initially told us not to worry,” Barnies recalls. “Our team’s management and teammates didn’t talk much about it. We were hearing reports that Russian troops were surrounding the country. But our team’s management, and some teammates, told us that it was no big deal. They said Russia is always bullying countries and Ukraine is one of them.”