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May
18

The EuroChallenge Championship Curse: What of Beşiktaş’ future?

In this second piece of a two-part series, sportswriter/commentator Uygar Karaca again considers the EuroChallenge Championship Curse, with special reference to this year’s champions, Beşiktaş; unfortunately for the Eagles, Karaca feels a distressing amount of déjà vu…

In this article, I will try to answer the question as to whether Beşiktaş Milangaz fits into the framework of the “EuroChallenge Championship Curse.” Just to reminder for readers: A few days ago, I compiled a list of teams who won the FIBA EuroChallenge trophy and what happened to them thereafter. Many of these team’s fates were not very nice and unfortunately, one can fairly claim that Beşiktaş is walking a similar path.

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Jan
0

11-for-11: BallinEurope’s Most 11 popular stories from 2011

So 2011 may have been few people’s favorite year personally, European basketball fans have certainly got to be taking solace in the fact that the past 12 months featured a seriously great run of Continental-flavored hoops.

To wit, in 2011, we enjoyed:

• an exciting round of Euroleague playoffs which included FC Barcelona’s surprising tournament-round exit and culminated in storied franchise Panathinaikos bagging its third EL trophy in five years;

• in domestic leagues, another weird Bundesliga playoff tournament, another controversial Greek tourney, and from Italy and Spain second-place shockers Bennet Cantù and Bizkaia Bilbao Basket advancing;

• lots of European superstars battling it out in the NBA playoffs, particularly on the Western Conference side, with Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and of course Dirk Nowitzki proving so key to their teams’ successes (or lack thereof);

the Eurobasket 2011 tournament hosted in the world’s basketball-maddest country which ultimately inspired Team Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic to opine that “this has been the strongest European Championship in history…” (and, judging only from the star content alone, BiE would probably agree, despite a general loathing for such hyperbole directly after an event);

• some awesome schadenfreude-laced moments as NBA refugees came to play on the Continent during the player lockout, plus all the incredibly amusing speculation on names beginning with Kobe Bryant; and finally

• the close to the 2011-12 Euroleague regular season with a week 10 that featured some crazy dogfights for entry and positioning in the Top 16 round, including a great do-or-die game between Emporio Armani Milano and Partizan Belgrade.

Olympic Games or no, how can basketball year 2011 be topped? On the first day of the new year, BallinEurope takes a last brief look back at the most popular stories we ran in 2011. Relive one killer 365 days of European roundball once more below.

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Sep
9

Kobe Bryant coming to Italy: Bologna or baloney?

While all that Kobe Bryant-to-Beşiktaş Cola Turka talk may be long dead, the Los Angeles Lakers star could well be closer to playing in Europe than you think. After Bryant reportedly responded to offers from Virtus Bologna with “Let’s talk,” the club has organized a conference call for this evening with Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka to discuss matters.

Italy-based Il Resto del Carlino has been following the story of Bologna’s wooing Kobe this week, and today the newspaper is reporting that the Italian club is offering some $3 million should Bryant sign with the Serie A club for the season.

And Virtus team president Claudio Sabatini has already publicly put forth perhaps the craziest offer BiE has yet seen during the NBA lockout mess, reportedly ready to pony up $500,000 plus $100,000 to charity should Kobe suit up for Bologna for the season opener against Virtus Roma – that’s right: One game, half a million bucks. Sabatini has also informally offered $1.95 million if Bryant stays with the club through October to play three games.

Finally, Il Resto is putting out a call to the public: If you have a decent argument for Bryant to play in Italy this season, offer your pro-European basketball propaganda to bolognaperbryant@virtus.it.

Bryant possibly playing in Italy has been a matter of speculation for some time, as the Laker spent a good amount of his childhood in the country while his father “Jellybean” played for four different Italian teams from 1984 to 1991.

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Aug
3

Beşiktaş Cola Turka eschewing Kobe for Kevin Durant?

Turkey-based news outlets are this morning reporting that Beşiktaş Cola Turka, a.k.a. Deron Williams’ new and Allen Iverson’s former team, is setting its sights on Kevin Durant as Kobe Bryant has not yet responded to overtures from the big-thinking TBL club.

Turkish news outlet Milliyet stated that Durant’s agent Aaron Goodwin met with Beşiktaş president Yildrim Demirören and GM Şeref Yalçın to discuss the possibility of the Oklahoma City Thunder sensation joining D-Will should the 2011-12 NBA season “begin” with the lockout conditions still imposed.

While Milliyet has Durant quoted as stating that “If Kobe does not accept, I will come to Turkey” (“Kobe kabul etmezse, ben Türkiye’ye gelirim”), ESPN-via-Vatan a bit more soberly explains that Beşiktaş is still seeking Bryant’s services with Durant as a second option to woo. Goodwin is quoted at ESPN.com as saying “The Turkish option is very intriguing. We’re looking at other countries as well. Kevin hasn’t agreed to play anywhere yet, but we’re looking for the best fit.”

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Jul
3

Amidst talks with Beşiktaş Cola Turka, Kobe Bryant nets one

While attending a friendly between the Champions League finalists in that other sport – FC Barcelona and Manchester United – in Washington, D.C., Kobe Bryant was reportedly wooed by Beşiktaş Cola Turka officials into perhaps playing for the TBL/Eurocup side during the 2011-12 season in case of a protracted NBA lockout.

Bryant did not participate in the celebrity match at the event, though he did present the “Man of the Match” award to Man U’s Nemanja Vidic after his side’s 2-1 victory over Barca. BallinEurope has yet to find anything definitive vis-a-vis the all-important negotiations between Mamba and Beşiktaş, but below runs a video featuring the nattily-attired Kobe netting a penalty shot at halftime. Perhaps he’ll be getting offers from Premiership clubs soon…?

Update: According to U.S.-based Sporting News, at least three sportswriters in-the-know have reported that Bryant did not in fact meet with Beşiktaş officials in Washington and there appears to be little chance at present that the Los Angeles Laker will play with the Turkish team this autumn.

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Jul
2

Zaza Pachulia, Beşiktaş Cola Turka “couldn’t agree on terms”

Hmmm, it appears that Beşiktaş Cola Turka’s 2011-12 squad won’t quite be so dream-teamy after all; Deron Williams’ new side will apparently not open the season with Zaza Pachulia on the floor.

Pachulia wrote thusly on Twitter last night: “There was lot of talking me going to play for Beşiktaş during lockout. We couldn’t agree on the terms and I’m not going to play for them.”

BiE now wonders about the veracity and feasibility of the ever-increasing rumors regarding Beşiktaş’ offer to Kobe Bryant; some news sources are currently reporting that an August date has been set for Bryant to meet with team officials. We’ll see.

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Jul
9

“It is a fact”: Bits and bites on Deron Williams, Beşiktaş, NBA lockout

With BallinEurope temporarily stationed in the USA, the business-as-usual machinations of top European clubs and preparations of national teams for Eurobasket 2011 threaten to be lost in a squall of speculation about the NBA lockout – of which amazingly little progress is being seen, by the way. And so, BiE has a few bulleted thoughts, quips and links this morning (afternoon CET time) on Deron Williams and his ilk.

• If Williams in fact does suit up for Beşiktaş Cola Turka come September, won’t he be the first Team USA team member to play in Europe since the days of the (totally awesome) Dirty Dozen? Come to think of it, Trajan Langdon and the guys wouldn’t have even been in USA colors in 1998 had it not been for … a player lockout. Hmmm…

• As for Kobe Bryant joining D-Will and Zaza with Beşiktaş, American media is all over this story despite recent (assumed impermanent) sanctions against club. Coach Ergin Ataman’s quote is getting lots of play already before much of the country even awakens this morning: “It is a fact that Kobe Bryant’s managers have contacted us.”

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Jul
14

Coming to Europe: The top five most influential American players of all-time

With seemingly no end in sight to the NBA lockout situation forthcoming, BallinEurope has to admit to enjoying the schadenfreude of the situation … just a bit. Even more exciting than the day-to-day speculation as more and more players from the big league consider their Continental options are the possibilities for the future: History has shown that inclusion of one American player can change the entire course of clubs, domestic leagues and even national programs.

While living in the present, BiE takes a look at the past with a virtual all-star team of guys from the ’States who have been great for the European game in one way or another. This quintet was chosen not necessarily for their skills and greatness, but for their impact on the game itself both in Europe and America – at least until Kobe Bryant decides to hop the Atlantic, heh heh…

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Jul
4

Besiktas Cola Turka backs off Kobe Bryant offer … for now

If Besiktas Cola Turka ends up running with the only NBA players on their squad for 2010-11 as Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia in the wake of the NBA lockout, their fans can blame soccer.

Turkey-based NTV Spor, the sports news outlet which first broke the story of Besiktas’ contract offer to Williams, is today reporting that the signing of Bryant by the Eurocup club will be put on hold thanks to a scandal in the country’s football league. ESPN Los Angeles reports today that the match-fixing scandal will force Besiktas to look elsewhere for funding any new big-deal contracts due to penalties to be assessed to the club, one of a few cited in the case.

In speaking to reporters, after a meeting with UEFA officials, Turkey Football Federation deputy chairman Arıboğan Lutfi said that the possible punishment for the Besiktas sports club would be decided upon soon.

Bryant was reportedly offered a whopping $500,000 per month to play for Allen Iverson’s former team, and the Mamba in turn was asking for an even more whopping $1 million for his services.

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Jul
2

Artest agent: No on Britain, Finland; maybe on Israel, Russia, Greece, Turkey…

After capturing the blogosphere’s attention with yesterday’s reportage of Ron Artest, a.k.a. Metta World Peace, looking to options in the British Basketball League in case of an extended NBA player lockout, ESPN Los Angeles went straight to the horse’s mouth – or the horse’s agent’s mouth – to learn the truth.

Said agent David Bauman to the website, “Even though [playing in England] makes sense from a [convenience standpoint], it doesn’t make sense from a basketball perspective.” Bauman went on to declare that Artest does want to play some professional ball in 2011-12 and that “If we do Europe, it’s going to be Israel, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Italy or maybe France. … When we spoke about the lockout, Ron said, ‘Find me the best teams.’”

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