A bit of a weird one from Italy for you this morning … BallinEurope contributing writer Enrico Cellini reports on a symbolic protest within his country’s national basketball league which subsequently saw nearly half the Serie A referees – including the well-esteemed Fabio Facchini, one of two Italians who will be calling games at the 2012 Olympic Games – suspended.
On March 17th and 18th, 19 Serie A referees opted for the orange jerseys they used to wear last season instead of the 2011-2012 grey uniforms. Unlike those NBA teams that go for vintage-style uniforms to reminisce about their roots (and sell some more jerseys at their stores), the old-school fashion displayed by the refs was intended as a clear signal to the Italian Basketball Federation and the basketball world as a whole.
The federation got the signal, did not like it at all, chastised the rebel refs and eventually suspended 15 of them!
This one goes out to the German-speakers and cheerleader fans among the BallinEurope audience – BiE suspects no shortage in either category – to perk up Monday morning here on the Continent. Check out the preparations undergone by the Alba Berlin dance team before a recent match at O2 World arena as well as some in-game performance. (Hey, at under five minutes, would you rather scope this or “Kobe Doin’ Work”? BiE thought so…
Here’s a must-read for you, courtesy of Free Darko and Salon.com. After “sitting on this for a year,” Salon.com writer/editor Ethan Sherwood Strauss contributes his “The Spaniard’s Bar Mitzvah,” a story of “escorting” Ricky Rubio to and fro the 2009 NBA Draft in New York City. Excellent stuff for Rubio fans, not to mention those just into good old-fashioned you-are-there journalism.
(For those of you into new-fashioned YouTube journalism, see below the break for flashbacks to 2009 and Kobe Bryant expostulating on Rubio and the NBA’s foreign players.)
After game three of the Greek League championship, in which a number of questionable calls went against Olympiacos against rivals Panathinaikos, Reds management isn’t taking things lying down.
In a statement posted on the team’s official website, Olympiacos officials were “compel[led] to condemn those responsible for controlling the course of Greek basketball” for general egregiousness against the Reds. (“Τα πρωτοφανή διαιτητικά όργια σε βάρος της ομάδας μας των οποίων όλοι οι φίλαθλοι έγιναν μάρτυρες, μας αναγκάζουν να καταγγείλουμε τους υπευθύνους που ελέγχουν τον χώρο του ελληνικού μπάσκετ και που δεν είναι άλλοι από…”)
There’s nothing so bizarre – and often barely newsworthy – about the firing of a head coach, even one leading a successful team. Even one who is replacing a legend who was also fired in the same season.
But when a coach is fired in the middle of a national championship series, that’s already nearing on lunacy.
And when that coach was actually your third head coach *in the current season*, well, that there should be cause to start getting out the straitjacket.
And when that coach is fired from one of the greatest teams in the basketball-maddest country in Europe, well then you get a situation which has been described as “destroying Lithuania’s national pride.”
That’s what’s happening in Žalgiris Kaunas, literally right now, as the team’s head coach Darius Maskoliunas was fired just about five hours ago while his team is down 2-1 in a best-of-seven-game series to rival powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas.
BallinEurope has just received a snippet of seriously critical information that could change the entire complexion of the NBA playoffs this morning.
BiE cannot name names in this situation, but many thanks to that hard-working guy (how hard working? He was giving me the following news at 2am local time) for the tip; he knows who he is.
The bombshell: A source close to the Cleveland Cavaliers who wished to remain anonymous has admitted that LeBron James should not playing with his injury in its current state. Apparently, the damage is enough that the right arm of King James – perhaps that should be “King Richard III” for the nonce – is having great difficulty in carrying anything heavier than a basketball.
December 1, 2009, will go down in history as the day the Treaty of Lisbon was put into full effect, thus “complet[ing] the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam  and by the Treaty of Nice  with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action.” Indeed, this document can even be said to complete a 52-year-old plan first formulated with the European Economic Community established in Rome in 1957.
The implications and results of the Treaty of Lisbon are certain to be far-reaching, even reaching like Moses Malone into the world of European and international basketball. Ball in Europe takes a look at past, present and future in European Union sports regulation and legislation.
Our friend Kristian Santiago has written a very interesting piece about the current situation that basketball agents face in Europe. Enjoy the read and get some information from inside the basketball business.
I attended the German Bundesliga All-Star Day last weekend and also followed the dunk contest of that event. This type of contest is always considered one of the highlights by most basketball fans, even if the “traditional” Euroleague fan does not care about such “NBA-like show elements.” The level of the contest was fair in my eyes, but the reaction of those in attendance was pretty limited considering the difficult dunks that presented by the participants. A dunk like this one from Robert “Hollywood” Turner, who is, by the way 2.06 meters tall, is not that easy to do, yet it was not even enough to win the contest.
Besides the speaker, most fans had nothing more to offer than a little hand clapping for a between-the-legs dunk executed by a nearly seven-foot tall player. Everybody who him- or herself plays basketball knows how hard it is to dunk the ball, especially if you have to put it between your legs. But these days, basketball fans worldwide are so used to such scenes that you even heard voices in the arena saying: “Nice, but that dunk is, like, 10 years old.”
I mean, ten or so years ago, there was no YouTube to see all manner of high-flying action. As a basketball junkie and slam dunk fan, you had to wait the whole year for NBA All-Star weekend and stay awake all night to see some spectacular slams. The dunk contest for European All-Star games were not highly covered by media, and the level was far from the NBA event. If you go even further back, a dunk in Europe was a very innovative concept to score a basket back then, and there were only a few European players like Richard Dacoury executing a dunk in the game.
After the Olympic Games 1992 in Barcelona, the dunk also became more popular in Europe, and young Europeans improved their athletic build in order to become above-the-rim players, too. And it was particularly in France where a real “Dunk Culture” developed and produced one of the most spectacular leagues outside the United States. Players like Alain Digbeu and Mous Sonko filled the highlight reels of the French basketball fans and unfortunately, there are not that many of these spectacular plays still to be found.
This Dunk Culture produced a lot of “pure” dunking artists in France and the creation of the Slam Nation team exported the French touch in Dunks worldwide. On the other side of the ocean, high-flying stars like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady improved the level of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest to unseen heights since the legendary MJ-Dominique Wilkins battles. The popularity of the NBA in Europe increased the notability of the dunkers and the dunk was considered THE element of modern basketball.
When YouTube started to become popular at the beginning of this century, the worldwide takeover of the dunk was starting. Everybody could put his favorite dunks on the net and made the slam dunk incredibly popular among viewers. But herein enters the factor that changed everything: With the huge amount of dunks available for free viewing, the magic of the jam started to crumble. Kadour Ziani and his Slam Nation acrobats published million-view clips and everybody started to think that these dunks are “normal,” as there are so many available on the net.
This availability of dunking on the net was, of course, also a boost to creativity during various contests, as the participants could check what was going on around the world in terms of dunks. You could see Europeans imitating the Isiah Rider between the legs dunk or Americans going for the Abdoul Bamba dunk. But more evident was the fact that more and more people got “used” to this type of spectacular move with the results described above: barely any reaction to highly spectacular dunks in a contest. Even a women dunking the ball in a game now seems quite common to YouTube users.
So what do we want? Personally, I’m not a big fan of dunking contest, I prefer the tough baskets in game situations. Let us show some respect to the artists of the slam, however, and give them the deserved credit during these events. But what’s better than a spectacular in-your-face dunk on the fast break? This can never beat any kind of acrobatics produced during a contest. (Found via BasketSession.com.)