Four more games are in the books as the first-ever BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Basketball Tournament rolls on, shattering all attendance records for Budapest basketball (no major feat, but still) as fans gather to witness the all-time greats plucked from their native timestreams for their amusement … but who was amused when the Dream Team itself suffered its first true loss? Read on!
Three more games to report on from the first annual BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Tournament brought to you by sports simulation website What If Sports – all apologies for the late reportage, but even BiE
can’t ignore the family for hoops 365 days a year has to merrily celebrate the holidays – as day two wraps up.
December 24: All-Time Toronto Raptors 111, 21st Century Dream Team 99. In a shocker, the Raps dominated the ultra-talented Century 21s in the late game of day one. Vince Carter had a monster game from the floor with 30 points and Charles Oakley finally exploited that much-hyped weakness Team USA 2010 was ostensibly to have had, i.e. lack of height, with a crazy 24 rebounds.
As a holiday present to the audience, each of you has received courtside tickets to the first annual BallinEurope Festivus Invitational Tournament. Thanks to the miracle of totally BiE-unaffiliated (and totally mind-blowingly awesome) website What If Sports, we can bring together great players of the past and present for true dream matchups – and without all the messiness of traditional time travel.
For this inaugural event, six virtual invitations were extended to some of the most memorable players and squads in basketball history. Paradoxes caused by requiring a player to play against another version of himself (a feat thus far only successfully achieved by M.J.) were kept to minimum with only one player – Chris Bosh, oddly enough – forced to warp the spacetime continuum a bit. (Although Coach K could also be appearing simultaneously on opposing sidelines as well.)
Take a look at the rundown of these six teams to imagine the outcome: Who will win the BiE Festivus Invitational? Stay tuned and happy holidays, everyone!
Like many of us old enough to remember, Pau Gasol vividly recalls his thoughts upon hearing that Magic Johnson announced he had tested positive for HIV and thus would retire from NBA basketball. Indeed, Gasol was touched enough by what had happened to his sports hero that he began following an academic path into med school.
As detailed on an ESPN segment earlier this year, Gasol’s “Path Not Taken” was ultimately foregone so that the young man could rise through the FC Barcelona basketball ranks and eventually play in the U.S.
Today, Gasol’s possible paths meet with a new public service announcement presented on television as part of World AIDS Day 2010. While cities internationally will be swathed in red and/or observing the date in other fashions, the PR wing of the United Nations’ World AIDS Day organization launched its latest in the “Greater than AIDS” campaign.
Gasol has been one of the more visible figures in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in recent years and has been named to the UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention.
Alongside Gasol in the campaign are Russell Westbrook, Al Horford and Candace Wiggins; a potential on-court all-star team, this quartet also comprises quite a charitable bunch. Wiggins’ father died of AIDS and the WNBA player has formed a partnership with nonprofit Until There’s A Cure. Horford has frequently been noted locally for initiatives in Atlanta, while Westbrook notably took up the mantle of two-sport star last spring for the Oklahoma City Urban Youth Scholarship Fund.
From the Shameless Cross-Promotional Plug Department: BallinEurope’s sister site BuckBokai.com, with the assistance of the most-excellent sports simulation website WhatIfSports.com, considered part of the speculative statement made here upon the Dream Team’s admission to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, namely:
…the only two teams … who *might* possibly give the Dream Team a series [were] Dream Team III, with much of Dream Team I plus Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal, who probably should have been on the roster in lieu of the more politically-correctly chosen Christian Laettner in ‘92; and the Redeem Team of 2008, Generation Y’s own Dream Team.
So through the magic of number-crunching, we can kinda sorta know who wins in a battle of 1992 Team USA vs. 2008 Team USA. Who wins in a best-of-seven series? Click here to find out.
(Truth is, you can probably guess as to the final result, but BiE was a bit surprised at the specifics.)
(Please excuse BallinEurope’s more personal tone today; trust me, i have as healthy a loathing for usage of the first-person in sports blogging as you no doubt do. On the other hand, it is called *You*Tube.)
When i was coming of age in the Cold War 1980s, there wasn’t one basketball universe but rather two developing in parallel. While we were thrilling to the likes of Bird ‘n’ Magic and Pat Riley’s coaching, Eastern European hoops were witness to studs such as Valdis Valters, the immortal Arvydas Sabonis and mighty mastermind Alexander Gomelsky.
Now that the pingpong balls (or computer algorithm or mad scheme cooked up by David Stern, whichever you prefer) have spoken, we can truly let speculation on the 2010 NBA Draft run wild. Following up profiles on the likes of Donatas Motiejunas and Miroslav Raduljica, BallinEurope’s man in the U.K. Sam Chadwick today takes a look at versatile Serbian Nemanja Bjelica, projected by most in-the-know as a second-round pick this year.
This writeup comes courtesy of a reader’s tip: Dzoni asked us to take a look into a guy called Nemanja Bjelica of Red Star Belgrade. Well, I have looked and I like what I see.
This guy is 6’10” (2.08 meters) and the amazing thing is he plays guard, whether shooting or point. Bjelica’s height not only allows him to see over defenders and make the open pass but also to hustle inside and get the rebounds. In ranking the 1988-born generation, prospect specialist website Eurohopes has Bjelica at no. 8, behind only Danilo Gallinari, Nicolas Batum, Omri Casspi, Rodrigue Beaubois, Viktor Claver, Alexis Ajinca and Raduljica: Excepting Raduljica, all of these have been drafted and most are playing at a high level in the NBA. Anyway, onward with the profile.
Reports last week that the Basketball Hall of Fame would be moving up the 2010 induction ceremony, so as to avoid conflict with the FIBA World Championship tournament and thus focus the hoops universe’s full attention on the 1992 USA Olympic team enshrinement, got me to reminiscing about that seminal game in basketball history: The gold-medal match between the Dream Team and Team Croatia at the Barcelona Olympiad.
While few observers at that time thought the game would even be close after The Greatest Team Ever Assembled (still) had demolished the competition in Barcelona, everyone was well aware that regardless of the final game’s result, the match would literally be one for the books, internationally.
And history has borne out that feeling, ultimately culminating in the unstoppable twelve entering the hallowed halls of Springfield later this year. The Dream Team’s influence was profound and immediate with the jump of basketball to near-preeminence among the world’s most beloved sports, the final burgeoning of the NBA to global sports juggernaut status, and a new emphasis among national sports committees worldwide on basketball. Some credit Spain’s masterful dominance of The Continent today on the Barcelona Games, as though the shine and glamour of Team USA had permeated the country to produce Gasols and Navarros and Rubios.
Twenty years later – and who’d’ve imagined this back then? – that game remains at your fingertips, available for viewing on YouTube in eight parts – Awesome.
The only good thing about getting a nasty flu? Easy: Lots of time for reading monster tomes like Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy”. Thanks to a sentinel from the legion of The 2009 Killer Viruses, i was able to knock down all 697 pages of this thing – every “what if” scenario, every drop of gushy sycophantry about the Boston Celtics, every cheap shot at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, every improved list of reasons why, every obtuse pop-culture reference that would’ve sent me scurrying to access Wikipedia had i possessed the ability to crawl out of bed. Everything.
It’s not quite like proclaiming you’ve finished “Finnegan’s Wake,” but pride can be taken in the solace that this reader was perhaps among the first 100 to finish the volume on The Continent and probably the only one in Hungary. Apparently one needn’t have read “The Book of Basketball” to review it, as evidenced by the barrage of reviews (pretty much all of which landed firmly in either the “Simmons damn near the greatest sportswriter ever” or the “Simmons is overrated and, frankly, passé” camp) that somehow appeared throughout the blogosphere within 24 hours of the book’s release on Amazon.com. (Come on, there’s no way ESPN Books sent out *that* many review copies.)
If you’re clueless as to what the vitriol contained in the above-cited negative review is all about, well, you’re not alone. One can’t help but wonder, however, just how much of “The Book of Basketball” Charles P. Pierce looked at with an open mind and how much he, you know, *read* of this book. (Is it possible that Pierce’s 2000 book “Sports Guy,” apparently titled without knowledge of what a barely-known blogger was doing in Boston, has something to do with it…? Nah.)
Yes, all the deadpan humor, friend-referencing and fierce homerism so characteristic of The Sports Guy’s columns over at ESPN.com are in here, but Simmons and editor Gary Hoenig realize that “The Book of Basketball” wasn’t to be a simple rehashing of internet work or stapled together newspaper column-like bits, but a freaking *book* for Hemingway’s sake.
And kudos to them, because “The Book of Basketball” is exactly what Simmons (and basketball) fans deserve: The Sports Guy’s writing – coupled with his insane encyclopedic knowledge of the game – refined.