The mystery of the NBA player who faked his identity

The mystery of the NBA player who faked his identity

The name Ersan Ilyasova maybe isn’t well-known in the NBA world, but the Turkish big man carved out himself a nice career in the NBA and is still going at it, signing a 10-day contract with the Bulls recently amidst all the players missing time due to health and safety protocols. You couldn’t really point out something fascinating from Ilyasova’s NBA career, but there is a crazy story out there revolving around the identity of the power forward. The 34-year Turkish native, Ersan Ilyasova, is an entirely different person, as reported by Lucas Santos from Sideline Sources.

The career of Ersan Ilyasova

Most NBA fans know who Ersan Ilyasova is. The 6’9” power forward is mainly known for his stint with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he spent nine seasons. After that time, Ersan became a bit of an NBA journeyman, trying to find a new consistent home in the league to this day.

Ilyasova, who was a regular 10 & 5 guy for the better part of his career, made his mark in the NBA primarily as a weapon off the bench, spreading the floor with his long-range shooting ability. Also, international fans know him for some great games in Barcelona and the Turkish national team.

The curious case of Ersan Ilyasova

But this story has nothing to do with Ilyasova’s basketball career but the mystery about his true identity. Back in 2003, a Turkish news channel came out with a report saying Ersan Ilyasova lied about his name, age, and nationality.

Ilyasova’s official birthday of May 15th, 1987, is allegedly false. Ersan was actually born in 1984, making him three years older than his listed age. But that’s the least crazy part. The theory is that Ersan Ilyasova is actually a person named Arsen Ilyasov, born in Uzbekistan. In 2002, Arsen crossed the border into Turkey at 18 years old but then went missing, never showing up again. All the documents about Arsen Ilyasov simply vanished.

But only a month later, a person would go to the Turkish authorities and say he forgot to register his 15-year old son. That boy turned out to be Ersan Ilyasova. There wasn’t any previous documentation of him, and Ersan got officially registered without too much question being asked. The reason for lowering his age was probably so Ilyasova could compete with younger age groups.

After this story got out, the Uzbekistan Basketball Association would file a complaint to FIBA, saying Ersan can’t play for the Turkish national team due to the fact he is actually an Uzbek. But Fiba rejected them due to the shortage of evidence to back that claim.

But why did Ersan and his family even escape Uzbekistan? Well, that makes a lot more sense when you consider that the Islamic movement rose there in the 90s to overthrow the government. That led to a lot of political tensions and armed violence. It was only logical that Ersan and his family would escape and completely change their identities so they couldn’t be traced.

All the evidence and reports indicate that Ersan Ilyasova and Arsen Ilyasov are actually the same people, making the NBA player three years older than he’s actually listed. A crazy NBA conspiracy theory that could very well be true, but not one we can confirm 100%. Maybe in the future, we will get the complete picture of Ersan Ilyasova and his life.