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Mar
2

Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen

Lloyd-Daniels
In this gig I get a lot of unsolicited email. Most of it is nice and a huge chunk of it is begging for coverage. I tend to say no a lot because I’m not in the interest of spamming my readers. Every now and again, one of those unexpected mails is worth following up. This is definitely one of those exceptions. Allow me to introduce you to The Legend of Swee’ Pea.

Lloyd ‘Swee’ Pea’ Daniels was a playground legend whose quixotic life saw him signed up to UNLV, forced to leave the program over drug issues, eventually make his way to the NBA, and then a few stints in Europe with Pesaro, Galatasaray, AEK Athens, and Ovarense. Every baller has a story to tell but they guys behind this documentary have found a gem in Daniel. This is a player whose life is fascinating and worth telling.

In addition to the clip above I’ve seen some other unfinished portions which I sadly can’t share for rights reasons at present but trust me, the film-makers are on to something really special here.

To put it simply. If you want to see a great documentary about a fascinating character, support this project via its Kickstarter. You can also find out more at the film’s web site.

BiE will be making a donation next weekend to help it along and we plan on interviewing the film-makers in the coming weeks. If you have any questions you’d like us to put to them, leave them in the comments below.

Mar
0

On the map, in the news: Maccabi Tel Aviv legend Tal Brody

One old-timer’s name popping up in the news lately is former Maccabi Tel Aviv/Team USA great Tal Brody.

Actually, to define Brody as “great” in his years with Maccabi is overwhelming understatement, as the man’s career has weaved a thread through the club’s and, to an arguable extent (and o, it will be argued; see below) Israeli basketball history. A brief retelling of the man’s career highlights, then.

Though drafted by the Baltimore Bullets, Brody never played in the NBA and instead got with Maccabi Tel Aviv for the 1966-67 season. Maccabi immediately ascended to the European Champions Cup final four round with Brody starting in the shooting guard spot. Military commitments returned Brody to the ‘States for a couple of years and he played with on fifth-place Team USA at the 1970 FIBA World Championship.

Continue Reading…

Feb
0

Welcome to Turkey, Damon Jones!

Taking his talents to Turkey

Looking to right their ship, TBL franchise Aliağa Petkim has announced its agreement in principle with longtime NBA journeyman Damon Jones, last seen with Puerto Rico Baloncesto Superior Nacional league team Piratas de Quebradillas.

In total, Jones played with 10 different teams over nine seasons in the NBA, playing in the championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. After the 2008-09 season, Jones put in a short stint with NSB Napoli and later played with the Piratas, but only stuck with the latter for two weeks in which he scored 43 points in four games.

Continue Reading…

Feb
1

Adam McCoy: The Blake Griffin of Europe

Here’s to hoping BiE can create something viral here … anything to help one of the great untold individual stories of European basketball.

Currently playing his trade in Slovakia, longtime Dallas area resident/former North Texas Mean Greener Adam McCoy is not only statistically crushing the domestic league there, he’s also seemingly in possession the same anti-gravity power Blake Griffin deploys on a nightly basis across the ocean.

After capturing local imaginations in a high-school career with Arlington Oakridge, the 6’3” swingman first played university ball with Mesa Community College; in Arizona, McCoy became a top-15 junior college player, making the NJCAA Region I second team after going for 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game in his sophomore year.

Transferring to North Texas University, McCoy excited local interest but the homer never received adequate playing time to blow up – and little indication that he could go off like he is in 2010-11 – averaging just about 12 minutes per game in two seasons. The 43% three-point shooting in his senior year may have raised a few eyebrows, but at 8.7 points and just 0.5 steals per game, McCoy ultimately was not the help some imagined he might be.

Continue Reading…

Jan
1

Brody, Pollin, Seiden “on the map,” into immortality with HOF inductions

America’s National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame has announced its inductees for 2011, well representing basketball with an NBA executive, a college notable and one of the most significant figures ever in Maccabi Tel Aviv history.

In the spirit of “last shall be first,” BallinEurope first congratulates Talbot “Tal” Brody. After his senior, All-America year with University of Illinois in 1964-65, Brody was chosen by the Baltimore Bullets as the no. 12 overall pick in the ‘65 NBA draft – but he forewent the opportunity to play ball in the big league, instead preferring to finish a graduate degree (imagine that happening today).

For the 1966-67 season, Brody began his career with Maccabi; the team immediately ascended to the European Champions Cup final four round with Brody starting at no. 2. Military commitments returned Brody to the ‘States for a couple of years and the SG played with the fifth-placing Team USA at the 1970 FIBA World Championship.

Returning to Israel for good for the 1970-71 season, Brody was soon made immortal in Israel sports history by guiding Tel Aviv to the European Champions Cup in 1977, part of the franchise’s first triple-crown season and the country’s first major sports championship. His post-game comments preserved a spot in history proper when he declared, in the face of certain geopolitical pressure from the Soviet Union throughout the competition with specific reference to Israel, the Cup victory to signify that “We are on the map, and we are staying on the map – not only in sports but in everything.”

Continue Reading…

Dec
0

Cyril Julian: From SLUC Nancy to oenology

Call him a “Warrior,” call him SLUC Nancy’s former savior, call him one of the best French players of the past 10 years never to play in the NBA … but now you can call Cyril Julian a degreed oenologist – and a guy with the enviable chance to live out two of his dream careers.

While winemaking may seem like a bit of a strange choice for one who, shall we say, “enjoyed the perks of his lifestyle” as a Harley Davidson motorcycle-driving, heavy metal-loving dude during his on-court heyday, it seems the calling to become a vintner was never far away.

According to the bio on his brand-new vinocentric website (opened for business on October 1), Julian’s “passion for working the land and the vine was born in me.” Julian claims to have first been won over by the grape consciously upon his summer visits to his paternal grandparents’ farm, where young Cyril helped out in the vineyards since age five.

Continue Reading…

Nov
0

Francesco Cappelletti: “Cut and sew!”

Every year when October runs out, several players are denied a happy ending to their stories, and their NBA dream vanishes in a moment. This happens when waived by a franchise after a training camp spent sweating blood to emerge from among the “desperate ballers” hoping to make the team. So, there are two different paths to follow: Go down to the D-League or CBA, score 20 or more points per game, catch and shoot any ball you can, and try to obtain a ten-day contract (at least) from a NBA team during the season; or cross the ocean, build a new career maybe less rich, but in some cases much more satisfying than one in the US.

Let’s see who may be looking into this window of opportunity right about now, starting with NBA-caliber players.

Justin Williams didn’t have huge numbers with Sacramento and Houston, but has demonstrated that he can stay 10 minutes on the floor thanks to toughness, defensive intensity and rebounding capacity (Williams averaged 4.4 in 12 minutes per game with the Kings two years ago). Salim Stoudamire and his talent need no explanation: Obviously it’s his out-of-control mind that keeps him playing below expectations. But remember, he’s Damon’s cousin, so he should have no problem in ever finding an NBA team.

Comparisons between the former Hawks guard and Smush Parker are clear: Smush is crazy and he has been overpaid during the past seasons, but there’s no doubt about his value. David Harrison is another player endowed with a not-so-good relationship with the law. His body (213 cm, 125 kg) could allow him to dominate around the basket, but how badly does he want it? If nobody gives him a chance, the flight to Europe is ready for departure.

In my opinion, it’s time for Jamal Sampson, Darryl Watkins and Awvee Storey to come to Europe, just to name a few who will never be more than role players. The same goes for Elton Brown and David Noel; by contrast, Chris Richard is too young and promising to leave the NBA world. Luke Jackson, Keith McLeod, Jelani McCoy and Adrian Griffin are NBA travellers, and somewhere there they’ll remain.

Patrick Ewing Jr. (say goodbye to New York!), Coby Karl, Dwayne Mitchell, Jamaal Tatum, Blake Ahearn, Dan Grunfeld, C.J. Giles, Cheyne Gadson, Gerry McNamara (what a disaster in Europe: paid $90,000 to play exactly one minute with Olimpiacos, then was terrific with Panionios and Ventspils), and Julius Hodge are strictly US minors material.

Searching some interesting names for European leagues, Malik Hairston (a 6’6” all-arounder from Oregon who was the 48th overall pick in the last NBA draft) has both the scoring instincts and the physicality needed to be a factor not only in one halfcourt; David Padgett is a solid low-post player and comes from a winning team at Louisville;  Nick Fazekas has signed with Oostende by now.

The remaining waivees are all Europe-experienced, many able to compete at the medium-level (Roger Powell is too inconsistent to elevate his grade, Mateen Cleaves is far from the metronome admired in the past, Derrick Byars is intriguing but his five months in Roanne were less than stellar, Curtis Sumpter is always injured), many ready to serve as solid substitutes on elite teams (Gabe Muoneke, Josh Davis, Jared Jordan, Devin Green, Eddie Basden), and others yet close to upgrading themselves to top-level play. Reyshawn Terry, Charles Gaines, Robert Hite: Choose one of this trio and you’ll see the team improve very, very quickly.

Jun
4

Wednesday Rumors

If you are really trying to provide readers with good stuff, the basketball off-season is probably more interesting and even busier than the actual season itself.

For this reason, we decided to provide you with the latest rumors out there regarding European basketball and European players. To make it more interesting, we’ll let you know what we think about these rumors…

Danilo Gallinari will go to New York next year.
We have been talking about this from day one more as a joke than not, since the real reason to draft Gallinari cannot be just because his father played with the Knicks head coach back in the day, right? Oh well, look at Luke Walton: Sometimes Dad does help. Since Gallinari is in the US to work out with some teams, he also stopped in New Jersey to work out with the Nets. It looks like the Nets told Gallinari that they would certainly take him if still available when the Nets’ time to draft arrives. The Nets will choose at no. 10 in the first round, while the Knicks are sixth. One reason why the Knicks might not take Gallinari is that they are seeking some experience and might trade away the first-round pick.

Given the facts, the chance that Gallinari will be drafted by the Knicks: ratingratingratingratingrating

Fran Vazquez will leave FC Barcelona and enter the NBA next season.
Fran was drafted by the Orlando Magic in 2005 draft. Since then, the Magic wanted to bring him over, as they have again asked him this year. Spanish website sports.es tell us that Vazquez will continue to play for FC Barcelona next season. Vazquez has a contract with the Spanish club through June 2010 with an option for another year.

So, again no Fran Vazquez in the NBA this season: ratingratingratingratingrating

Marc Gasol will leave Europe to play for the Grizzlies.
During the NBA finals, I saw Marc working out with his brother at the Staples Center. He also told reporters that the really likes it in the US and would be able to help any team on any level. Just one problem: Marc will make more money in Europe than the Grizzlies will offer him in his first season. Keep in mind that Gasol just played with a ULEB cup team and has several offers from Euroleague teams such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Since he himself said that he is still “very young” in addition to the fact that he would make less money in the NBA, it is very doubtful that Marc will be seen in the NBA this upcoming season.

Chances of seeing Marc Gasol in the NBA next season: ratingratingratingratingrating

Jorge Garbajosa will leave the Raptors and join a Euroleague team.
Another sad example how an injury can mess up your career – well, your NBA career at least. Remember Jorge’s real bad injury? This caused a lot of problems, and not only regarding the injury. As you know, the Spanish federation wanted Jorge to play at the European championship directly following the injury, while the Raptors did not agree with that decision at all. Jorge was re-injured and played only six games in this year’s NBA season.

Some Spanish media outlets reported that the Raptors now want to buy Garbajosa out of his contract and cut any ties. The Raptors have also added that he will not play at the Olympics as long as he is under contract with Toronto. Jorge is set to leave and any European team – particularly a Spanish team like Unicaja Malaga – will take him without a doubt.

Chances for this to happen: ratingratingratingratingrating

Ksystof Lavrinovic is leaving Siena.
Lavrinovic just won the Italian title with Siena and also made it to the Final Four in Madrid this summer, where the team finished third. Ksystof was one of the main factors for Siena’s success this season and I am sure they will try to do anything to keep him there. There have been rumors that Lavrinovic will enter the NBA, which I’m sure he would if his “dark past” didn’t scare off any NBA team (including the Knicks) and  even some Euroleague teams. But you almost can’t say “no” to a player like Ksystof. I’m sure many teams have been asking Siena about Ksystof, and we will soon hear the names of a few teams interested in signing him. How about a Greek team…?

Chances that Ksystof Lavrinovic will leave Montepaschi Siena: ratingratingratingratingrating

May
5

Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja, Zan Tabak still playing

As you know by now, I am as much a Bulls fan (Jordan/Pippen era) as probably anybody else. When I heard the rumor that there might be a game between Split and Barcelona veterans, I was pretty sure that we would see Toni, Dino and some more great European players.

I’d always wanted to see the Bulls and Toni live and today was the day – at least I saw Toni Kukoc with courtside seats. First of all, I have to thank Yarone Arbel since he told me about the event, which was organized by the town of Madrid – pretty cool move! If you expected the guys to play soft and boring basketball just to have a reason to all meet up … WRONG! Toni killed Barcelona from the three-point line – he was still using the NBA three-point line – and Dino Radja was cleaning up in the post. Even Real Madrid assistant coach Zan Tabak showed that he’s still in shape!

Probably 300 visitors came to see these “old” players and the music was even old school (which was very cool by the way). Yarone pointed out one more thing: the players’ wives! You can tell who they are: the sexy player wives that you see now in NBA or Euroleague games cheering for their rich husbands, only this time they were just a bit “older.”

Here are some pictures of the game and of Toni Kukoc – I am pretty sure you still remember that one-foot jumpshot stepback:

Apr
3

Euroleague Final Four: Maccabi Tel Aviv’s history lesson

Once again thanks to Yarone Arbel for this great series of articles about “his” team Maccabi Tel Aviv.

History-wise … Maccabi couldn’t hope for a better opponent in the semi-finals than Montepaschi. In eight encounters so far, all in recent years, Maccabi has beat the Italian bank eight times.

In fact, most of these games have been tattooed in the memories of Maccabi fans. There was the first buzzer-beater made by Saras in a Maccabi uniform. Another came a year later when the same Saras on the same court against the same team made his first three pointer of the night, after eight misses prior, exactly in the last seconds to put Maccabi on top

Yet another: Down in Siena, the game was decided after Anthony Parker hit a three pointer plus a free throw shot (a rare scene by itself) in the last seconds.

One more was in the 2002-03 season, when Maccabi came to Siena after a steak of three losses in four days (Back then, they played the Adriatic League between Euroleague and Israeli league games); coach David Blatt was about to get a one-way ticket, but the win in Siena put the team back on track.

Last, and funniest of all, was in 2004-05 when Vrbica Stefanov got the ball under the basket, WIDE OPEN, for a simple layup with his team down by three and less than 20 seconds to play, but he managed to miss it like a five-year-old girl and Maccabi won again.

The players who were active then and are still around today are Bootsy and Eze for Montepaschi, while Maccabi has Vujcic, Burstein (rarely used), Sharp (ditto) and Halperin (he was hardly used back then).

Tomorrow, the next article by Yarone: Maccabi Tel Aviv’s momentum.