Oh, Mirza. Mirza, Mirza, Mirza…
Some exciting news for folks in Zagreb from the English-language section of the news portal Croatia Week: Basketball fans in the big city may be treated to a unique Brooklyn Nets-Cibona Zagreb exhibition match in October in observation of the 20th anniversary of the death of all-time great Drazen Petrovic.
And according to the ‘Week, little stands in the way of such an eventuality: “The Brooklyn Nets, who were called the New Jersey Nets when Petrovic was a star there in the early 1990′s, will play a match against Petrovic’s former club Cibona in Zagreb if there is enough interest…”
Gee, do you think the first-ever appearance by an NBA team in the basketball-mad land could generate enough interest? Start looking into hotel deals now, sports tourists!
Here on The Continent, all but the hardiest envy those in the Western Hemisphere today; as the holiday fades into evening here, the NBA’s awesome quintupleheader is just beginning: To watch this live, the European would have to pull an all-nighter, with wall-to-
wall basketball straight through to 7am or so. BallinEurope plans to watch the first two and get up before the rooster for the 4.30am CET tipoff of Clippers-Nuggets.
In any case, apologies for the delay, but below run BallinEurope Official Fearless Predictions™ for the Christmas slate. The first game’s already begun (full disclosure: as of this writing, it’s Brooklyn Nets 16, Boston Celtics 12), but BiE’s got the Cs winning in Spike Lee’s neighborhood – wish it could be proven, but BiE did post his vote this way in the ESPN Sports Nation poll today.
On the rest of the slate, the other OFPs include the Los Angeles Lakers over the Knicks in a nailbiter in which Steve Nash goes for nine assists (of course); the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Miami Heat by 8; the Chicago Bulls defend home court against the Houston Rockets, winning by 10 despite game high-scorer James Harden’s efforts; and in that battle of the league’s most exciting teams, the red hot Los Angeles Clippers extend the winning streak (which will end against the Celtics in their upcoming match) over the Denver Nuggets by, BiE’ll say, 11.
Enjoy the wall of ’ball; BallinEurope sure will…
Nice choice, BallinEurope readers. The Minnesota Timberwolves, selected as BiE’s NBA home team for the 2012-13 season, are early darlings in the big league, managing to get off to a respectable 4-2 start (“Their best start in 11 years!” went the hype after the Wolves’ win over the Indiana Pacers) while Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and at present J.J. Barea are down to injury.
BallinEurope checks in this morning with those fantastic Eurowolves, bullet-style with video and an Official Fearless Prediction™ or two below.
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.)
We’re doing something slightly different for 2012-13; rather than a team-by-team breakdown of the NBA and its 50-plus Europeans in the rolls, BiE instead presents the 25 storylines this website will attempt to keep tabs on as the 2012-13 edition of the NBA enfolds. Enjoy the season (unless you’re in the Twitter Airlines NBA fantasy league, in which case BiE’ll attempt to seek misplaced vengeance for his general incompetence in the Euroleague game…)!
Taking a look at this year’s roundup, we note that 53 Europeans have been named to NBA clubs’ 15-man roster, just beating the pace of the 52 listed in 2010-11. (BiE didn’t take the tally for last season because, you know, things were kinda confusing during the lockout and all…)
And quite a few teams have seriously European-tinted rosters: Five teams go into the 2012-13 NBA season with four Continental players – and of these 20 players, perhaps only Sasha Pavlovic and Evan Fournier are marginalized at the lower end of the 15-man rosters. If one includes Ty Lawson as an honorary Lithuanian (for at least one more season), the Denver Nuggets could put an all-Euro squad on the floor with Lawson heading up an admittedly odd lineup of Fournier, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov.
The team-by-team breakdown goes as follows.
A handful of rights-owned players will be suiting up to play on both sides of the Atlantic over the next eight days, but today BallinEurope takes a slightly wider view beyond these exciting-but-mostly-irrelevant dozen games. Below a look at five players – a bit of a future dream team, perhaps, though desperately seeking a monstrous big man – taken in recent NBA drafts and currently developing in Europe’s higher levels. And yes, there will be highlights.
Your five for the European present and NBA future, then…
Last night’s recap of the action in FIBA EuroBasket 2013 qualifying round, in brief: Serbia and Turkey took care of business, the miracle campaign of dark horse Azerbaijan ended sadly, and the 24 teams that will comprise The Continent’s big tournament are now known.
BallinEurope has a podcast with Germany-based heinnews on more general matters regarding the qualifying teams scheduled for later today, so a few thoughts will follow. For now, however, contact the virtual trophy makers, because BiE’s announcing its official All-Qualifiers Team. Without further ado, the first five are…
For the first time ever, the NBA/FIBA collaboration known as Basketball Without Borders heads to Russia. This month, some 50 European youth basketball players will get schooled – that is to say, be educated by – quite the roster of international talent.
Headling the program are Team Russia’s own Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Timofey Mozgov (Denver Nuggets); this troika will be joined by the likes of retired legends Sarunas Marciulionis and Alexander Volkov as well as Americans Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs, briefly of Union Olimpija), MarShon Brooks (Brooklyn Nets) and Brian Cardinal (Dallas Mavericks). Not too shabby a roster there, particularly if you could time-travel Marciulionis and Volkov back a couple of decades.
And … Continue Reading…