Spider Ledesma

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Spider Ledesma
Born William Stephan Spider Ledesma II
(1964-04-06) April 6, 1964 (age 53)
Santa Clara, California
Occupation CEO
Employer Native American Olympic Team
Term April 1997–present
Awards FIBA MVP 1993 (Cyprus Div. I), leading scorer FIBA 1995/96

William Stephan Spider Ledesma II (born April 6, 1964) is an American professional basketball player and the current CEO of the Native American Olympic Team.[1]


Born in Santa Clara, California, Ledesma is of Native American and Native Mexican descent from his late father's family and Irish American descent from his mother's family. His Indian name, Spider, was given to him as a young boy by his uncle Jess 'Joe Butch' Ledesma and confirmed upon him by his elder Clinton Pilcher, a member of the Oglala (Lakota) Sioux tribe.

Basketball career[edit]

Ledesma began playing basketball in the 7th grade at Brownell Jr. High School in Gilroy, CA, and attended Gilroy High School. As a sophomore, he became a starter on the varsity team under Head Coach Richard Freedman. He earned First-Team All-League honors as a junior and was named Co-MVP of the Monterey Bay League during his senior year in 1982. During his senior year, growing to 6 feet 8 inches, he broke several records including becoming the all-time leading scorer in Gilroy High School history, a record which had stood for 20 years. Senior year honors included being named to the San Jose Mercury News first-team All-Central Coast Section (CCS) as well as being selected to play in the 1982 North-South All-Star Classic.[citation needed]

Ledesma's Native American athletic career started at the age of 14 at an Indian tournament at San Jose City College in 1978. At 16 he played in his first Canadian Indian tournament, at an Indian reservation near Calgary, AB. His importance increased as a native basketball player, as he continued to grow in height. He ultimately became a five-time National Indian Athletic Association (NIAA) national champion and three-time MVP.[citation needed] His first national championship was in 1991 on the Bemidji (Chippewa) reservation in Bemidji, MN where he led the Santa Clara Itashans to a resounding defeat of the North Dakota Warriors. His team also defeated an Indian squad led by Ernie Stevens Jr., current chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA).[2][citation needed] Ledesma played for several years at tournaments in the Northwest on Indian reservations of the Chiloquin (Klamath), Hoopa (Hupa), Warm Springs, and Yakima.[citation needed]

He was a member of FIBA Club Achilleas in Cyprus. In the 1992/93 season, he was the 6th leading scorer in Div. I FIBA, at 31.5 ppg.[citation needed] He led Achilleas to a 10–0 preseason and then league-best season record of 17–1, and through the playoffs as they defeated Club Apoel and John Flowers of UNLV four games to one in the finals. The team went 12–1 in the post season for a total record of 39–2. Ledesma was named League MVP, Finals MVP, and declared the 'greatest foreigner to ever play in Cyprus' as voted on by the Cypriot sports media.[citation needed] In the 1995/96 season, his last year in FIBA and Cyprus, he led the world in Div. I scoring averaging 35.8 ppg, including scoring 40 points or more in five straight league contests.[citation needed]

He played in the 1987 Pan American Games representing Mexico. His highlight was the game against the US National Team. Though Mexico was overwhelmed by the US in a Group A matchup, Ledesma, lining up against future NBA MVP and champion David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs, shared game-high scoring honors with 22 points and led Mexico with eight rebounds.[citation needed] He also played in the European Cup while representing Club Achilleas in 1992/93 and again in 1993/94 as the defending Cypriot league champion.

His success at the Pan American Games led to an NBA tryout and invitation from the Los Angeles Clippers to participate in their 1987 preseason Veterans camp.[citation needed] He attended as a free agent, and started at center on opening night of the preseason versus the Utah Jazz. He led the Clippers in rebounding in the preseason averaging 6.5 rpg in 12 mpg in four preseason games before his release.[citation needed]

Other leagues and international competitions he participated in include Monterey Bay League, California Community Colleges, NCAA, Los Angeles Summer Pro League, San Francisco Pro-Am Basketball League, Circuito Mexicano de Básquetbol, and National Superior Basketball.[citation needed]

Native American Olympic Team[edit]

In 1997 Ledesma announced he would form an international basketball team and program to honor the sovereignty of Native American tribes and provide a vocational opportunity for Native American athletes—basketball players in particular. He is the acting CEO & President of Basketball Operations Native America.[3] In 1999 Ledesma formed the first professional, All-Indian basketball team and international program.

Ledesma's highlights include leading Native America with 26 pts, 14 rbs. and in free throw percentage shooting 13 of 14 from the free throw line, although the team suffered a 106-90 loss.[4]

In 2004 Ledesma attempted to enter the Native American Olympic Team into the fledgling American Basketball Association[5] but did not succeed in receiving the necessary financial backing from Native American casinos.


  1. ^ NativeAmericanOlympicTeam.com Native American Olympic Team
  2. ^ Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. IndianGaming.org - About NIGA
  3. ^ CEO & President Basketball Operations Native America.
  4. ^ Jim Alexander, "UCR Strong in Opener Once the Foes Show Up", The Press-Enterprise, November 11, 2000. Reproduced here in Facebook. Accessed August 8, 2010.
  5. ^ "All Indian Team to be ABA's 24th Expansion Team". Our Sports Central (reported on by OSC Staff). 2004-06-04. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 

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