Billy Thompson

Making the cut on Israeli courts Talented exports: Eighty American basketball players -- many at the end of NBA careers -- are stars anew on teams in Israel.

JERUSALEM -- The teen-ager gaped at the 6-foot-7 fellow sitting in an adjoining booth, then tentatively asked the Israeli basketball star for an autograph.

"Jesus loves you," wrote Billy Thompson on the slip of paper.

An odd autograph to be giving Jewish fans. But then Mr. Thompson, an American from Camden, N.J., is accustomed to sticking out.

He is one of 80 Americans playing on Israel's basketball teams. The players are a part of one of America's more unique exports: basketball talent.

Americans are on teams throughout Europe, switching teams and countries with the scribble of a signature on a contract. They are instant stars in leagues of lesser...