Joakim Noah has become just the second European ever to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year title. The Chicago Bulls and France big man is also the second European in as many years to be given the honour, after Spain’s Marc Gasol won for his stellar season with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012/13. Congratulations to Noah, whose Bulls could do with some of that Defensive POY swagger to help them get back into their series with the Wizards.
It’s been a long and busy week in Basketball for Europe’s top teams and players and tonight we could see even more drama. Let’s get you set for another wild week of playoff action in Euroleague and the NBA.
As fearlessly predicted by BiE Barcelona got the brooms out against Galatasaray. While the Istanbul club was always expected to fall in this series, they put up a brave fight to make Barca earn the sweep on Monday before falling 78-75. This makes it five final fours in six years for Barcelona, with the one they missed out on notably having taken place in their backyard.
A reverse sweep is the only way Olympiacos will prevent there being a Clasico at the semi-final stage. Trailing 2-0 to Real Madrid, the back-to-back reigning champions need something big at the SEF later today. This column has predicted Real getting the job done in four games but for the Reds to force a Game 4, they must prove the bookies wrong as Olympiacos are -1.5 underdogs on their own floor.
Before getting to the basketball issues with the next game, a quick point. Don’t do proposals at games.
Nope, not buying it CSKA. You can’t fool me. Sure, I know you’ve got a better team than Panathinaikos but I’m not going to let an impressive Game 2 win over the Greens make me think you can finish this off in Athens. It just wouldn’t seem right for CSKA to take care of this in a comfortable fashion. Yes, the Greens have all sorts of issues but tonight’s Game 3 screams of CSKA gonna CSKA. I’m locking this one down for a Game 4 at the very minimum.
In a shock to pretty much no-one, EA7 Milano and Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv have the makings of the best series in the playoffs. After a dramatic overtime win for Maccabi in Game 1, Milano came back to win 91-77 in Game 2. Home court still favours the Israelis but it would be a brave observer who calls this series ending before Game 5. Admittedly BiE did just that, now we’re frantically reconsidering.
Before jumping across the pond, the ABA Liga has announced its team of the year. DeMarcus Nelson (Crvena Zvezda), Bogdan Bogdanoivc (Partizan), Dario Saric (Cibona), Joffrey Lauvergne (Partizan), and Boban Marjanovic (Crvena Zvezda) received team of the year honours. This week also sees the culmination of the ABA Liga with the Final Four in Belgrade. Crvena Zvezda takes on Cibona in the first semi-final on Thursday while Cedevita play Partizan in the second semi on Friday. The winners will meet in Sunday’s final.
And now to jump across the pond…
March Madness ended on Monday. On Tuesday Dario Saric, having just signed a new agent, delivered a triple-double with perfect timing to get the attention of NBA scouts. His 20 points, 13 board, and 10 assists in Cibona’s 96-70 Croatian Cup semi-final win over KK Zagreb. Super Dario certainly knows when to pick his moment.
Also, admittedly, possibly the only Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever. It’s so good we briefly considered forgiving Lipko, then we remembered that we hate Lipko.
Yannick Noah was at the Bulls win over the Heat to cheer on his son and Team France star Joakim. As is wont to happen during NBA broadcasts, he was interviewed during the action at his seat in the stands. The former French Open champion never took his eye off the action and stopped the interview so he could go crazy over Joakim’s play.
Anyone from this side of the pond always knew the Bulls centre inherited a big chunk of his intensity from his dad, now American hoops fans know first-hand.
After a week off due to Cup Week, the Dish returns with a packed sched. From the Hall of Fame to the Rising Stars and a big slate of Euroleague action, it’s been a busy week in European hoops but I’ve got one question: What about Rudy?
The most hated man in European basketball may be considering a switch back to the NBA. Rudy Fernandez, a man who would wear ‘Everybody hate me’ on his back if Euroleague ever considered nickname jerseys, is being looked at by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Losing Rudy would be bad for ball over here for many reasons. He is a top tier talent in Euroleague and that’s enough in and of itself but that’s not why I’m concerned. The sheer unreasonable hate of Rudy is almost soothing. Heck even Greens and Reds can come to agree on one thing: “Fucking Rudy”. We can lose such a symbol of unity. Fortunately, Fernandez would need to be nuts to go back to the NBA. Yes it’s the best league in the world but why leave a starting job with a big salary to fight for minutes?
One man happy to fight for minutes Stateside is BiE cult favourite Pero Antic. The Macedonia big man was meant to play for Team Hill in the Rising Stars challenge but injury prevented him from playing and was instead replaced by Miles Plumlee. Jonas Valanciunas started for Team Hill and had 4 points, 2 boards, and 2 assists in his 19 minutes. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 9 points, grabbed 2 boards, and dished 2 dimes, as Team Hill took a 142-136 victory over Team Webber.
With three Europeans selected for this Sunday’s NBA All Star game, BiE pays tribute to Joakim Noah, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tony Parker.
It was hardly a shock when no Europeans got selected for the starting line-ups of this year’s NBA All Star game but with three players from the continent making the reserves, including two from France, there’s plenty of interest in Sunday’s action from this side of the pond. Here are your three European 2014 NBA All Stars.
Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
Season stats: 17.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 6.2 APG 30.9 MPG
Number of All Star selections: 6
Last year was Tony Time as Parker led his Spurs back to the NBA Finals and then finally tasted EuroBasket glory in Slovenia. This has been another stellar season for the point guard who just keeps getting it done for Greg Popovich.
With all three Europeans in Friday’s NBA Rising Stars game being selected by Grant Hill for his team to go up against Chris Webber’s selection, BiE pays tribute to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pero Antic, and Jonas Valanciunas.
No need to divide your loyalties this Friday night. If you are European and watching the NBA Rising Stars game, there’s only one possible team to root for. All three Europeans have been selected to play for Team Hill. Here’s a look at all three of them.
Pero Antic – Atlanta Hawks
Season stats: 5.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 15.5 MPG
The Macedonian big man was a cult favourite in Europe and nothing has changed since moving to the NBA where, at 31, he is the oldest man in this year’s Rising Stars line-up. Antic started slowly but a few double digit explosions have secured Antic’s place in this game.
Luol Deng is no longer a Bull but he wasn’t going to be at the end of the season anyway. The move to Cleveland gives the Great Britain international more control over his future.
Two words. Two words give Luol Deng reason to be happy with his situation: Kyrie Irving. Deng has gone from being a player who would get dumped by Chicago in the summer to one with far more influence come the end of the season.
The Cavaliers know they made a meal and then some of their efforts to keep LeBron James happy but they never gave him a bona fide second option to work with. In acquiring Deng, effectively on a rental, and cashing in some picks in the process they are sending a message to Irving that they won’t err the same way with the point guard. This isn’t exactly putting Pippen with Jordan but it serves a role almost as vital, in spite if the talent disparity. The Cavs took a punt on Andrew Bynum, it didn’t work, so they moved fast to ensure their star didn’t get needy.
In the process they gave Deng, an All Star a few seasons back, the one thing he really lacked this summer. A home option. The Team GB star was going to be an attractive option in the free agent market but he would be going up against a market loaded with top end talent. Now Deng will enter the summer, irrespective of how Cleveland’s season ends, knowing there’s at least one team in greater need of him than he is of their courtship. The Cavs zre desperate not to make the mistakes they made with LeBron with Irving. They are also desperate not to look desperate.
This is a situation where it behooves the Cavs to make Luol Deng happy quickly because the sooner he gets locked down, the lower the risk of Irving getting angsty. It’s about the long game with Irving. The Cavs don’t want to give him a reason to ever be needy, to ever be demanding. Take care of business, get your house in order, and keep it that way. That is how your maintain control in a front office, by never giving a player reasons to want it. For examples of how to best succeed with this strategy see Spurs, San Antonio.
Everyone’s trying to call which way this trade went. Deng is the only certifiable winner here but long-term, the shuffling of assets may actually benefit both the Cavs and the Bulls. For Britain’s best baller, that’s at most a secondary concern.