Nov
1

Podcast: Interviews with Draft Express guru Jon Givony, “Best Unsigned Basketball Player” Dre Baldwin; paean to Obama; The Great White Hype reviewed

Another week, another podcast. The latest episode of the “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now live over at heinnews; this time, Germany-based sportswriter David Hein and BallinEurope run the following gamut.

• A quasi-obligatory nod to the recent W notched by Barack Obama, significantly the US’ first unabashed basketball fanatic in the Oval Office;

• The typical rundown/running on about past and upcoming Euroleague matches, plus how ready Os-as-Los-Angeles-Lakers-fan is to hit the panic button;

• An interview with Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, certainly one of the – if not *the* – authority website on basketball prospects throughout the world. Definitely stay tuned to this portion of the ‘cast to find out who the youth guru identifies as the second coming of Lynn Greer(!);

• An interview with Dre “All Day” Baldwin, who’s currently promoting himself as “The Best Unsigned Basketball Player Alive Today”; and

• A review of the criminally underrated Ron Shelton-penned boxing movie, “The Great White Hype.” (Incidentally, for little good reason aside from basic awesomeness, the trailer for said flick runs under the page break.)

Enjoy the show and, as always, talk to you next week!

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Nov
9

US Presidential Election 2012: America’s basketball diplomat hits hardwood for last-minute votes (plus Official Fearless Prediction™)

Love him or hate him after nearly four years in office, one thing is for certain: Barack Obama is the first basketball president – a fact that could curry lots of favor with Generation X and Y voters in a celebrity-charged election.

Sure, Bill Clinton was lucky enough to enjoy his home-state University of Arkansas’ 1994 victory in the NCAA Tournament and play host to the Dream Team in ’92. Sure, guys like George W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon were often more erudite when discussing sports than, you know, politics (check out “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72” for Hunter S. Thompson’s interview with Tricky Dick, an interview which Thompson was told could only be about NFL football). And the Kennedys surely won popularity points for their picturesque family touch-football games.

However, no US president has leveraged sports fandom on an international scale like Obama. (Check out BallinEurope contributing writer Enrico Cellini’s piece on his pet project, tracking Obama’s basketball diplomacy moves.) And the president’s preference for basketball represents the rise of the NBA and to some extent NCAA hopes during David Stern’s reign as the big league’s commissioner.

(Is it any coincidence that Obama came to professional prominence in that hometown of the 1990s’ Incredibulls? BiE thinks not.)

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Nov
2

On Barack Obama and basketball diplomacy

Note: This piece was first published in February 2012.

Hosting dignitaries and politicos from Italy this week, U.S. president/basketball devotee Barack Obama recently gave an interview to the visiting media as well, naturally taking time to praise Italia’s representatives in the NBA. As self-proclaimed scholar of basketball diplomacy – perhaps the only one on the planet – Enrico Cellini has noticed that Obama’s effusive acclaim for Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli is in fact quite similar to the prez’s gushy quotes on Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur back in 2009…

In a rare interview between an American president and an Italian newspaper, Barack Obama went through a wide variety of topics ranging from the state of the current Euro Crisis, through the turmoil in Syria to the importance of Italian-Americans in US society: “Italy can be proud that its sons and daughters continue to make invaluable contributions to the success of the United States and to our bilateral partnership”.

Of course, Obama didn’t miss the chance to deploy his trademark basketball diplomacy and dropped the following grand finale for the interview: “Of course, I have to add that guys like Danillo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli bring some pretty good game to the NBA, too.

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Nov
1

Monday hangover: Power struggles in Italy, Spain; Zalgiris’ continued rise; Obama vs. the Lakers Rule

It’s never too late for the ‘Hangover (or so BiE’s telling himself). Excuses aside, following are a few Eurocentric impressions, notes, highlight clips – and the no. 1 reason why Barack Obama is thrilled the Los Angeles Lakers went down in the playoffs last season…

Power vacuum in Italy? Coming into 2012-13, most pundits in the European basketball sphere reckoned Montepaschi Siena was due for an off year after an off offseason which saw them downgrade at several positions. And while it appears that Siena won’t be giving up its stranglehold on the Italian national title easily (they’re currently at 4-1; more on this shortly), the team’s dismal Euroleague play indicates this isn’t a Montepaschi team in the mold we’ve become accustomed to.

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Oct
0

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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May
2

Incredibile! Back-to-back buzzer-beaters bring Banco Sardegna Sassari into semifinals

What’s that? You haven’t been watching the quarterfinal round of the Italian League’s playoffs? No problem: BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini has – and he posts today about just what you’ve been missing, namely two cliffhanging, nail-biting finishes that finished off Virtus Bologna. (Ironically and mournfully, BiE notes Bologna’s elimination as dated the same as Kobe Bryant’s 2011-12 Los Angeles Lakers.) Cellini promises that the videos are the centerpiece and so those looking for classic buzzer-beaters need search no further than below the break.

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Mar
1

Clips: More basketball diplomacy by Obama; the Rise of British Basketball

(Obama, Cameron image courtesy The Toledo Blade)Speaking of Britain and basketball, BallinEurope this morning passes on a couple of Brit-centric clips…

Chicago Bulls fan/U.S. president Barack Obama yesterday displayed more of his trademark basketball diplomacy in taking his British counterpart, prime minister David Cameron, to the Mississippi Valley State-Western Kentucky NCAA tournament play-in game in Dayton, Ohio. Obama was proud to show a bit of the “great probable ‘swing state’ and thus 2012 presidential election-determining state of Ohio” to Cameron as the two enjoyed a furious rally by the Hilltoppers to upend the MVSU Delta Devils (sweet name, that), 59-58, and enter the Big Dance.

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Feb
5

Basketball diplomacy: Obama plagiarizes self in praise of Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli

Hosting dignitaries and politicos from Italy this week, U.S. president/basketball devotee Barack Obama recently gave an interview to the visiting media as well, naturally taking time to praise Italia’s representatives in the NBA. As self-proclaimed scholar of basketball diplomacy – perhaps the only one on the planet – Enrico Cellini has noticed that Obama’s effusive acclaim for Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli is in fact quite similar to the prez’s gushy quotes on Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur back in 2009…

In a rare interview between an American president and an Italian newspaper, Barack Obama went through a wide variety of topics ranging from the state of the current Euro Crisis, through the turmoil in Syria to the importance of Italian-Americans in US society: “Italy can be proud that its sons and daughters continue to make invaluable contributions to the success of the United States and to our bilateral partnership”.

Of course, Obama didn’t miss the chance to deploy his trademark basketball diplomacy and dropped the following grand finale for the interview: “Of course, I have to add that guys like Danillo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli bring some pretty good game to the NBA, too.

Continue Reading…

Feb
1

“Sinister”: Zalgiris Kaunas owner to form political party, fight for “sport, culture, art”

Would you buy a used Lada from this man?

What’s up with the bizarre mix of politics and basketball going on in Europe? While Barack Obama butters up Italia with references to Danilo Gallinari and Marco Bellinelli, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is stumping in Russia on an apparently futile bid for the presidency there. And now … well, let’s just say Lithuania better brace themselves for weirdness in the political arena.

For those of you wondering why Vladimir “Mad Vlad” Romanov has been relatively quiet lately vis-à-vis his formerly incessant tinkering, toying and messing around with his professional sport teams, Žalgiris Kaunas basketball and famed Scottish football club Heart of Midlothian among them, this may be the answer. As it turns out, Romanov will be forming his own political party, one that will “fight for the country’s sport, culture and art,” as “these areas have been abandoned.”

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Oct
10

Stood-up Claudio Sabatini writes Barack Obama re: Kobe, NBA lockout

Sabatini's next contract target?

Italy-based Gazzetto dello Sport reports on a couple of developments – or perhaps more appropriately “non-developments” – in the Kobe-to-Bologna soap opera. The first bit is easy to define: Kobe Bryant, it appears, won’t be playing for Virtus Bologna anytime soon.

As the basketball world awaited the well-publicized ultimate conference call between Virtus president Claudio Sabatini and Bryant’s representation, well … nothing much happened, and then happened some more. As it turns out, no call came to Sabatini’s office at all.

“I hope to hear [from them],” Sabatini stated in the Italian ‘paper. “I do not know how to interpret this episode.”

To tell the truth, BallinEurope isn’t too certain as to how to interpret Sabatini’s next move, which was to write U.S. president Barack Obama.

Sabatini and his staff reportedly believed that Obama’s public statement of yesterday regarding the NBA lockout was connected with the movement of NBA players to Europe.

“To avoid any misunderstanding,” Sabatini explained to La Gazzetta, “I have written to the White House that it is not my intention to cast a shadow on the NBA by stealing their most important player. It is just that I would like to give Bologna and all of Italian basketball the opportunity to enjoy the talent of this world-famous superstar.”

No reply from the president has been received by Sabatini.

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