Sabonis and the media, maybe nobody’s right

Lithuania legend Arvydas Sabonis announced he and coach Joas Kazlauskas would be leaving the national team set up. Emmet Ryan says there’s no right or wrong way to react.

Beneath the 7ft frame of a giant lies a man. Forget the Olympic success, the triumphs in Europe and the NBA. Ignore, if you can, his status as a living legend and hall of famer. Focus just on the fact that for all of the great things we know about Arvydas Sabonis, we still don’t know all that much about him as a person. We don’t know what makes him tick. Remember that when you look at the comments he made on Tuesday.

As reported by Simonas Barauskas, Sabas is leaving the Lithuanian national team set up. So too is Jonas Kazlauskas. This announcement, while expected, came after Lithuania made it all the way to the final of EuroBasket for the first time in a decade. Sabonis said the duo were stepping down because of intense pressure from the media and asked the press to be more gentle going forward.

As a journalist, this kind of argument is hard to stomach. The most fundamental talent we have is reporting on the talents of others. Sabas knows this and has been in the crosshairs for the guts of three decades. The split will be easy. Many will side with the legend and criticise the media for bringing too much heat. Just as many will contend he should be able to handle it, indeed I posited as much in this paragraph. Yet perhaps we should look at it from a third perspective.

Maybe both sides are as right as they are wrong.

Few journalists get up in the morning looking to bring stress or pain to people. It’s part of the job sometimes but those that actually relish inflicting suffering are a small and sick breed. I’ve certainly met some but the vast majority are regular people with regular problems and are fairly reasonable. Likewise few ballers actually buy into the mythos built by the media. Most of them are, admittedly often wealthy, regular folk too. The idea of someone writing and reporting on their every act may be an occupational hazard but that doesn’t mean they have to like it.

So what of Sabas? Clearly the heat of working in one of the most pressured environments in basketball wasn’t what he wanted. Kazlauskas had led Lithuania back to the top table, Sabonis was by his side, yet still the scrutiny remained because that, quite frankly, is our job.

He may very well be right in saying it’s because of the media that he left but that’s no fault of the fourth estate. Sabas and Kazlauskas had their fill, got far , and decided they were both better off elsewhere. We only talk about it because of the profile of the jobs but fundamentally this was a case of two men thinking about their work-life balance. Time to up sticks, find something different.

As for the being gentle comment, hey the dudes did a good job. I’ve thick enough skin to let it slide and the rest of the media should too.


Kobe says Dirk best non-US player ever; BallinEurope respectfully disagrees

No disrespect to Dirk Nowitzki and what he’s accomplished in his 15 NBA seasons and international play, but BallinEurope felt obliged to respond to a 141-character length injustice this afternoon.

Said Kobe Bryant, via FIBA:

But BiE begs to differ. Again, no disrespect.

BallinEurope suspects a few readers might agree. Of course, there’s also…

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Flashback to 1995: Real Madrid 73, Olympiacos 61

The last time Real Madrid and Olympiacos met in a Euroleague final? The last time Los Blancos won it all, in fact: 1995. The Euroleague’s official writeup of that year’s playoffs runs below the highlight clip, but more importantly check out the legendary legend Arvydas Sabonis putting in 23 points and grabbing seven boards in his last season before jumping the puddle to join the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA…

Real Madrid vs Olympiakos 73-61 Euroleague 1995…

(Euroleague.net) — In the summer of 1994, Zeljko Obradovic left Joventut due to financial reasons despite having won the European title in Tel Aviv. Real Madrid took the chance to sign the young coach everybody was talking about, owner already of two titles with two different teams: Partizan in 1992 and Joventut. The move proved providential for Madrid, since the Spaniards ended second in their group (9-5), only after Panathinaikos (10-4), and in front of CSKA Moscow and Scavolini, both with 9-5. In the other group, Limoges was first (10-4), Olympiakos second (9-5) Cibona and Buckler Virtus third and fourth (both 8-6). In the quarterfinals, only Real managed to sweep, beating Cibona 2-0, while Panathinaikos (vs. Buckler), Limoges (vs. Scavolini) and Olympiakos (vs. CSKA) each needed three games to advance.

In the Final Four, played again in Zaragoza, Spain, Olympiakos won the Greek semifinal for the second year in a row, while Real Madrid did not have any problems downing Limoges. In the final there were no doubts: Real Madrid was ahead by 10 points at halftime (38-28) and maintained its clear lead until the end, 73-61. Arvydas Sabonis, in his third and last year with Real before going to the NBA, finally won the European title that had escaped him at two previous finals: in 1986 with Zalgiris and in 1992 with Real Madrid. Now, the team which still has the most European titles, had its first title in 15 years.

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Basketball Movies in 2012: The winner of the Oscar (Robertson) for Best Full-Length Documentary is…

Other Dream Team posterCongratulations from BallinEurope go out this morning to Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Day-Lewis, the Argo team, Jennifer Lawrence (swoon) and the other winners of Academy Awards last night. And now, it’s decision time here.

The annual bestowing of BallinEurope’s Oscar (Robertson) Awards for basketball excellence in 2012 has seen Thunderstruck, The Dream Team and The Harlem Globetrotters take awards in their individual categories, leaving the prize for “Best Full-Length Documentary” still to be awarded — and lemme tell ya, BiE has spent way too much time thinking it over this weekend.

The no-brainer nominee (and well worthy) is the long-awaited The Other Dream Team, which was finally released in 2012 after more than two years of buildup and production. And damn, was it worth the wait.

For those somehow not in the know on this film, The Other Dream Team tells the story of the 1992 Lithuanian men’s basketball team, a squad essentially assembled from scratch, rather like its home nation itself in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. As with their Team USA counterparts in that fateful year (not to mention the silver-winning Croatia and even the fourth-place “Unified Team”), the scope of Team Lithuania’s story is huge. Unlike The Dream Team’s run to immortality in Barcelona, though, this team’s podium finish carried all the weight of history with more than a touch of good-humored wackiness.

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Introducing BallinEurope 2.0

BiE new logo JPGWelcome to everyone visiting BallinEurope.com today, the first day in the rest of the life of the website.

The most obvious design change is of course our revamped logo, featuring Arvydas Sabonis from those glory days of Lithuanian basketball in the early 1990s and current-day Olympiacos team leader Vassilis Spanoulis. But not only is the look itself updated, the coding involved in creating the background is quite a bit “cleaner” that that of the previous graphic, which should result in much quicker load times.

To more properly integrate BallinEurope.com with Twitter (BiE’s weekday obsession), a feed to the BiE_basketball Twitter account is now included with the right-hand banner.

Finally, with something of greater emphasis in BiE Land these days on the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series, a tab for the ‘casts has replaced the “Euroleague Transactions Table.” While the ‘table has been a popular feature at BallinEurope.com in the past, we’re finding that more and more websites boast such a feature — and quite frankly, certain rumor-emphasizing ‘sites have caught up to and surpassed BiE in this area. Whereas five years ago, a “transfers table” was unique among European basketball-centric websites, this is nearly requisite stuff these days.

BallinEurope.com will have some new concept in place by the time Euroleague free-agent season starts in the runup to 2013-14, but for now we’re pimping the podcast.

A few more features may be added in coming days — we’re still working on more video players, for example — but please feel free to comment on what we see right now. Quite honestly, we love the new design and hope you do, too!

As always, thanks for reading; stick around for continued coverage of European basketball in all its myriad aspects!

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On Zalgiris Kaunas and developing Clutch Identity

Zalgiris Kaunas logoAfter watching Žalgiris Kaunas stumble through heartbreakers and possible backbreakers in the Euroleague Top 16 round, BallinEurope’s agent in Lithuania, Y., couldn’t help but confirm his suspicions about the Greens’ performances in crunch time. Y. probably wasn’t, but you may be surprised at the secret culture of losing within the Lithuanian power…

It’s almost unreal, as though the Gods of Basketball had banished one green-and-white soul from Lithuania with no prospect of return, a club that should be grouped with FC Barcelona, Olympiacos Piraeus, CSKA Moscow and other teams who have a long history, produce amazing talents for national teams, lead their respective national basketball, and simply win.

Yet for some reason, BC Žalgiris seems destined to lose.

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The new logo is here! The new logo is here!

Okay, here it is. In the wake of Ramunas Siskauskas’ retirement from basketball and based on the results from a pair of polls undertaken here, BallinEurope.com today unleashes its new logo, as designed at Budapest-based Artamax Creative Solutions.

We think the Sabas vs. Spanoulis logo represents BiE’s interest in European hoops both present and past, representing a fresh look while still harkening back to the site’s original graphic. A general redesign is also in the works, but click “continue reading” to see the logo below the break – and let us know what you think!

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Poll: Which player in Europe should be in the BallinEurope logo?

Congratulations, thanks and an apology all go out from BallinEurope this morning.

In order, that’s a congrat to Arvydas Sabonis, who will receive the honor of immortalization (sorta) as one half of the to-be-redesigned BallinEurope logo. Sabas was mighty impressive in amassing more votes from readers in the public opinion poll here than Dirk Nowitzki, Ricky Rubio and poor Tony Parker combined;

a shout out to all those who voted in the BiE poll; you’re gonna love part two for sure; and

apologies for the relative lack of contributions last and, foreseeably, this week. To put it in brief, BiE headquarters is relocating (read: “Os is moving”), but in December things will be again running smoothly here.

Right, then. Let’s get down to business. Based on suggestions from BiE readers, contributing writers and such, the field for Sabonis’ cartoon opponent in the BallinEurope logo will be the following.

Erazem Lorbek got some support from commenters and BiE admits that once again the Barcelona big went underrated on these pages. So BiE didn’t have Lorbek in his top five for Euroleague MVP balloting last season; this nomination should make up for that. While Lorbek’s numbers are generally down in 2012-13, he looks to be rearing back with three consecutive double-digit EL games and could be wearing the Blaugrana colors for some time yet.

The BallinEurope endorsement, however, goes to Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Not only is Big Sofo a fan favorite, not only would Sofoklis be done well in caricature, but can’t you just imagine him squaring off against Sabonis? Vote Sofo.

Despite the possibility of imminent retirement, Juan Carlos Navarro stays on the list. And Bo McCalebb’s there because he’s Bo. And because BiE wants that FYR Macedonia jersey in the logo.

Finally, there’s Vassilis Spanoulis. Damn straight BiE went there; after all, the guy did orchestrate Olympiacos’ magic run to cap 2011-12 with a couple of titles and he’s been an anchor on Greek national teams since 2000.

You may now blow up the comments section – but vote first!

Which player in Europe should be in the BallinEurope logo?

  • Vassilis Spanoulis (56%, 108 Votes)
  • Juan Carlos Navarro (20%, 39 Votes)
  • Bo McCalebb (11%, 21 Votes)
  • Sofoklis Schortsanitis (11%, 21 Votes)
  • Erazem Lorbek (2%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 194

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Poll: Which European NBAer should be in the BallinEurope logo?

Welcome to phase two of BallinEurope’s new logo project – yes, it’s officially a project now. Thanks to everyone for weighing in with some really excellent suggestions and critiques.

As culled from the feedback, BiE has decided to give consideration to a few good tips. Firstly, the suggestion that perhaps both players in the logo should be reworked gained some ground among the commentators and BiE liked it as well. To this end, this week’s poll will focus on a European player currently in the NBA; keeping the traditional Bearded Man, a.k.a. “Pau” is also an option.

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Monday hangover: Real Madrid awesome; CSKA Moscow vulnerable; Arvydas Sabonis rules

Right, with the weekend over and many an hour spent viewing the roundball, BallinEurope rounds up some news items – and video clips! – from the week that was.

Could this be Real Madrid’s year? Los Blancos are exactly one Rudy Fernandez miss from a perfect 8-0 overall mark early in 2012-13 after topping Caja Laboral Baskonia, 83-81, in overtime this weekend in the Liga Endesa.

Baskonia got a combined 47 points from Nemanja Bjelica and Maciej Lampe while turning over the ball just once – thus not allowing Real to demonstrate their nice quick transition to the fast break – yet ultimately couldn’t answer what’s looking like the best team out of Spain this season.

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