Basketball Movies in 2012: The winner of the Oscar (Robertson) for Television Documentary is…

On this day/evening of the 85th Academy Awards over in Hollywood, BallinEurope in turn celebrates excellence in basketball-centric films of 2012. Third of the four Oscar (Robertson) Awards to be given here is for the category of Best Television Documentary.

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Twenty years ago today: Recalling the Dream Team roster annoucement

BallinEurope continues with its look back at 1992 through the YouTube scope with a rundown of players on that Team USA of legend, a.k.a. The Dream Team. This of course means highlight clips of some of the greatest ever to have played the game … enjoy!

To start this one off, a personal reminiscence … the announcement of the long-awaited “Dream Team” roster was one of the great “Where Were You When” sports moments of my 20s. In early 1990s America, we had no internet and maybe three sports TV networks to choose from. Really speedy rumors traveled by fax machine and speculative chatter was relegated to sports talk radio.

Needless to say, in 1992, the Team USA basketball selection team was able to keep a tight cap on their priceless information – the superteam roster – until evening-edition newspapers were printed and local/prime-time news shows were ready to air. Crazy.

Sure, there were rumors. We heard Magic Johnson was being discussed, though he’d retired after the 1991-92 NBA season after announcing his HIV-positive condition. We heard Larry Bird might not play, in line with his intention to retire from the game after the playoffs. We heard bizarre stuff about Michael Jordan demanding that Isiah Thomas be excluded from the team.

But we didn’t know, y’know?

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Searching for Milos Vujanic (or, Where have all the sharpshooters gone?)

Who is today's Vujanic?

In Serbia, it’s Korac Cup time, leading BallinEurope’s Marko Savkovic to contemplate changes in European basketball since the days of Milos Vujanic; specifically, new expertise on defense and subsequent de-emphasis of raining three-pointers. Savkovic tells us who to seek out in the 2012 tourney in terms of long-ball shooting while name-dropping Drazen Petrovic, Magic Johnson and Dejan Bodiroga along the way…

As the Korac Cup gets underway in Nis this weekend – with no surprises yet so far – it’s worth reminding just how many recognized sharpshooters are entering this Final 8 tournament … And, well, there are none.

Bearing in mind the multitude of players from the former Yugoslavia who became known for their shooting skills, this seems hard to believe. Some ten years ago, players like Milos Vujanic – voted by fans onto the Euroleague All-Decade Team – were famous for their ability to teardrop three-pointers in succession. Today, the team he used to play for and the Cup’s strongest contender – Partizan – favors a radically different game. So what has changed?

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Happy birthday, Team USA killer Oscar Schmidt!

BallinEurope wishes a happy birthday to longtime Team Brazil, Spanish League and Italian Serie A legend Oscar Schmidt, who today is 54 years old.

Over a career spanning three decades and five Olympic Games, Schmidt scored a total of 49,703 career points, recognized by FIBA as the most-ever in a career.

(The identity of the second-highest point scorer remains a bit elusive for BiE, but for comparison’s sake, all-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was good for 38,387 in his playing days; Nikos Gallis totaled 24,759 in all competitions.)

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Eurocentric NBA highlights, bullets: Parker’s big game; Nuggets top Heat; Deng rules over Celtics; Rubio masterful as ever in first start

BallinEurope gets things rolling on Saturday with highlight clips – okay, some links to online stuff You Should Read as well, but the main point is highlight clips, right? This morning, then, a quick look at some excellent performances turned in in last night’s NBA action from the Continent’s top players. Starring Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Tiago Splitter, Ty Lawson, and of course a certain Spanish point guard you may have heard something about…

• Tony Parker contributed perhaps his best NBA performance of 2011-12 last night, with 20 points and nine assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 99-83 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Fellow TrueHoop blog 48 Minutes of Hell does some “Statistical Sleuthing” in an excellent piece on Parker’s play in the paint and at the rim this season, for ages a strength for the Spur.

After crunching the numbers, 48 Minutes’ Aaron McGuire deduces that “The fact is, Tony Parker has been playing atrociously, *especially* at the rim, and it’s tough to say whether this should make Spurs fans excited or terrified. Why excited? It’s easy to simply chalk this up to small sample size and assume he gets better as the year goes on, which would be an instant improvement to San Antonio’s already gelling offense. Terrified is more obvious — if this represents a permanent change in his game, the Spurs are essentially down to *no* all-star caliber offensive players.”

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Vlade Divac: The BallinEurope/YouTube career retrospective

BallinEurope sends out hearty congratulations to Serbian great Vlade Divac on his nomination for possible entry into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s “Class of 2012.”

While Divac may be known as a famous trivia answer (“Who was traded for Kobe Bryant?”) or by the dreaded “F-word” (i.e. “flopper” as used in – really – this Los Angeles Times blog entry detailing the story of Vlade’s honor), this nomination shows a lifetime of accomplishment on the basketball court. Heck, in the NBA alone, Divac topped 13,000 points, 9000 rebounds, 3000 assists and 1500 blocked shots over 16 seasons. And then there were those “Dream Team” years with Team Yugoslavia and the glorious early days with KK Partizan in the 1980s, highlighted by Korać Cup titles and Divac’s “Mr. Europa” trophy.

Today, BallinEurope pays tribute to a personal favorite on the occasion in the best way possible: With a YouTube-laden rundown of his long and memorable career! Check out Divac’s progress through turns with Partizan Belgrade, the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, the “Dream Team” Yugoslavian squads, and of course KK Crvena Zvezda during the 1999 NBA player lockout…

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German media coverage of Nowitzki: Thorough or well insufficient?

This one goes out by request to BallinEurope reader Mike, who recently commented here, “Hey, I came to this site to find out what German newspapers are saying about Dirk, and if they really care. Can you post up some info about this? It would be pretty cool to know. Like are they going to celebrate him over there if he wins?

In response, BiE would say that German media coverage of Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks is pretty thorough right now. For a really good writeup/roundup on Dirk’s press reportage, check out the always excellent Germany-based heinnews’ Friday article “German media pulling for Nowitzki, Dallas to get NBA title – finally.”

For BiE’s money, though – and judging by the content in typically soccer-dominated European sports newspapers, the opinion may be right on – an opinion expressed on the German-language Sport1 website is more likely a fair representation of the current media situation there.

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Dastardly Dirk versus The Big Z: Who deserves a ring more?

The two have played a combined 1,837 regular-season NBA games, scoring over 33,750 points while nabbing more than 14,500 rebounds over 24½ full seasons. Each has rewritten the franchise record books of the team for which he spent the overwhelming majority of his career. Each has been underrated for much, if not all, of his career and while each has played in exactly one NBA championship series, both had their title hopes emphatically vanquished.

And both are playing for this year’s NBA title – but only one can win.

Yes, BallinEurope is talking about those European towers facing off in the sure-to-be epic battle between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Championship Series: Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Dirk Nowitzki … so who deserves bejeweling more? BiE weighs the case for each in four handy categories, followed by – you guessed it – a Fearless Prediction™.

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Pau Gasol: “A bit distracted,” “A bit exhausted” in Lakers-Mavs series

For the Spanish-language ‘site Marca.com, Los Angeles-based sportswriter Jesús Sánchez recently got some quality face time with Pau Gasol – enough to fill three columns’ worth of stories.

The key news for those looking ahead to the summer, a group that certainly includes Lakers fans and those cynical about the possibility of the NBA actually playing in 2011-12, is that Pau hasn’t quite announced that he will indeed play for Team Spain in the Eurobasket 2011 tournament; he is, however, expected to announce an affirmative decision upon returning to Spain sometime in June. Earlier in the week, Gasol met with national team coach Sergio Scariolo on the subject.

Of course, for those currently devoted to the NBA playoffs, just one thing regarding Pau is on the mind, i.e. “What the hell happened against the Dallas Mavericks?” Translated excerpts from Sánchez’ interview, in which Gasol talks muchly about his Lakers and a tad about an NBA lockout (Hint: Barcelona backers may prepare for giddiness now) follow.

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Valencia’s oldest its newest as team signs 44-year-old Darryl Middleton

Middleton: Product of a different era

When Darryl Middleton was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, the NBA was ruled over by the likes of Larry, Magic and MJ, Sir Charles and Hakeem the Dream. Rookie of the year was Mark Jackson and the Detroit Pistons were ascending into dominance. Andrew Bynum was about nine months old; Blake Griffin and Brandon Jennings weren’t even born. Hell, Svetislav Pešić was coaching a youth team which included Toni Kukoc, Vlade Divac, Dino Radja and Saša Đorđević.

Yet the 44-year-old plays on … yesterday, Power Electronics Valencia announced the signing of Middleton to a two-month contract, enough to let him finish out the season with the Euroleague club and extend his ACB record for “oldest player to appear in a league game.” Middleton will certainly threaten, if not break, the Euroleague record for same when Valencia goes to Real Madrid next Tuesday night in the playoff round; Valencia plays at Fuenlabrada on Saturday.

Turning 45 in July, BallinEurope would also guess Middleton to be the single oldest player in a top-level basketball league in the world today … if anyone knows of some more elderly than this European mainstay, please inform.

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