Okay, just finished watching the last game between BallinEurope’s “home team” Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers of the 2012-13 season – so it’s smoking gun time.
From the Just Because Department and the pages of Spanish-language website Jordan Y Pippen, here’s a still from the NBA All-Star Game that somehow we all missed as Kobe Bryant went on a personal mission to shut down Lebron James in the fourth quarter. The headline proclaims “Kobe to test a pair of ‘hats’ on Lebron” (Gotta be wordplay…), while word bubble has Kobe explaining his eschewing of the particular model he was apparently given for something better — perhaps a Nike-branded model…?
BiE likes to write up this particular roundup at year’s end for a couple of reasons: Firstly as a thank you to the readers who check out BallinEurope however frequently; like they say in sports, this website wouldn’t exist without the audience.
Secondly, a look back at which BallinEurope stories drew the most attention provides a nice microcosm of what was most of the minds of European basketball. Yes, national heroes playing in the NBA still reign supreme, but international tournaments happily still get ample due here on The Continent.
So without further ado, here are the stories that you, the readers, decided were the true headline-grabbers in 2012.
1. Splitter opines Adelman key to Rubio’s success; Ginobili says “impressive”
When Ricky Rubio finally eked his way into the Timberwolves’ starting lineup, the results were immediate and positive. Of course, those of us who’ve been following The Human YouTube Highlight Clip since his days as the youngest-ever player for Barcelona could sit back and say “I told you so” – like Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili did.
Now who saw this one coming? According to Croatia-based news outlet Jutarnji, Cibona Zagreb, having just activated the previously in-limbo Dario Saric (not to mention already eliminated from Eurocup play and in a 6-7 hole in the ABA), will announce the signing of Smush Parker.
Perhaps best known nowadays for serving as Kobe Bryant’s media-side scratching post, Parker has logged court time in China, Greece, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic since last playing in the U.S. with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2008.
Further making things interesting are comments made by Saric’s bombastic father Predrag. As translated by Sportando, father Saric opined that “Cibona owe money to everyone, they don’t have a coach and they expect Dario to save them. The best option for Darius was KK Split…”
(For the record, the same story telling of Parker’s arrival also notes that current head coach Daniel Lutz will in fact remain in the position through 2012-13.)
Predrag further went on to comment that at least 10 clubs were willing to sign his son and immediately loan him back to KK Split; apparently, Predrag had little say in the matter after all, however, since relations among family members has become a bit strained.
And BallinEurope asks could the downward spiral of this legendary European basketball club continue? Kobe’d probably say yes…
As Los Angeles Lakers fandom giddily awaits the possible debut of Mike D’Antoni on the bench tonight and the emergence of the superteam most observers expected, the inevitable whispers are beginning: Yes, Pau Gasol appears to be on some imaginary trading blocks (and perhaps even the actual one) already.
As BallinEurope understands it, the thinking goes something like this: Pau has not performed brilliantly early on this season. He’s at his peak trade value. Literally the only tradable assets beyond Gasol are Metta World Peace and Steve Blake – unless taking a flyer on Chris Duhon or Earl Clark proves irresistible to someone. Dwight Howard should exploit a pick-and-roll game enough so that the Spaniard’s specialized skills aren’t missed too much. And hey, let’s face it, they’ve been trying to deal this guy for quite some time.
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.)
Just in case you’re not one of the 14 million who “like” Kobe Bryant on Facebook or one of the 60,000 or so who “liked” the following post in the first three hours of its online existence, here’s a repost. Kobe continues his game of one-upmanship on Smush Parker when that war of words between the former teammates broke out last week.
“Leadership is responsibility,” begins the mini-treatise by Not The Big Socrates. Yet somehow the Los Angeles Laker great arrives at a conclusion that he’d “rather be perceived [of] as a winner than a good teammate.” Hey, you figure it out…
Posted Kobe: Continue Reading…
Podcast: Interview with Dana Beszczynski; spinning the spin on Kobe; what Bayern isn’t saying about Bauermann; more
Now running over at Germany-based heinnews is episode three in the “Taking the Charge” podcast series. In this gabfest, David Hein and yours truly feature an interview with Dana Beszczynski, a key behind-the-scenes player in two sports: The expatriate is involved in the youth program of Austrian Bundesliga team Allianz Swans Gmuden and heads up umpire training and baseball organization throughout the Continent – all in all, quite an interesting figure.
Other topics under the microscope include:
● Euroleague qualifiers – and another BallinEurope jinx handed to Unics Kazan;
● Kobe Bryant’s much-ballyhooed “It’s my team” comments; and
● possible fallout from Bayern Munich’s sacking of Dirk Bauermann.
The United States Dream Team of NBA stars captured their second Olympic men’s basketball gold medal in a row and the 14th overall for America by beating Spain 107-100 in Sunday’s final. The US multi-millionaire lineup of NBA elite claimed their fifth crown in the past six Olympics, improving to 62-since revamping the national team program after settling for bronze in 2004.
The Americans ran through the tournament undefeated just as they did in 2008 when they defeated Spain 118-107 in the Beijing final. The latest roster had five gold winners from Beijing and five from the US 2010 world champions.…
Here we go … Team USA vs Spain for the gold! What more needs to be said?
The first hype pushed at 4pm on the NBC broadcast: Kobe vs. Pau! (Clearly, BiE’s in touch with the American broadcasters…); Kobe is 1-0 in Olympic Games, doesn’t want to lose to Pau, doesn’t want to lose at all, etc.
Key stats from the final game in the 2008 Beijing Olympics; that game saw Kobe Bryant go 7-of-14 for 20 with six assists, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 18 after struggling throughout the tournament, and 56 fouls were called.
Spain is following the Liga Endesa-prescribed plan at best as possible, forcing USA to play a very slow game. Fast break points in the first quarter went just 4-0 for Team USA, and Pau Gasol is exploiting the mismatch against Carmelo in the post when possible, though that hasn’t been often.