Peja Stojakovic: The BallinEurope tribute

Just days ago, Peja Stojakovic appeared to be a viable free agent for an NBA team with roster holes, a still-deadly long-range assassin at the age of 34, a 19-year veteran with gas enough in the tank for late-game daggers and smart D, a prototypical European baller with an American championship pedigree. “Couldn’t he drain a few 3s for a contender?” rhetorically asked hoops sage Bill Simmons last Friday.

Alas, it was not to be. The Serbian sharpshooter will not be part of the Dallas Mavericks’ quest to repeat as NBA champions, announcing his retirement from professional basketball late Monday night. Citing injuries to his neck and back, Stojakovic decided his physical struggles were “a wakeup call” for him to leave the game at this point.

On the plus side, Peja has the privilege of going out on top, in 2011 not only topping his seeming long-time personal rivals the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs, but also finally earning the ring which had eluded him for a dozen seasons ‘Stateside.

Today BallinEurope pays tribute to the gold-medal winning, NBA title having, future FIBA Hall of Fame nod achieving legend in the traditional fashion … let’s go to the ‘Tube!

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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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Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar seek to join elites in 2012

Sasha? Really?

It’s perhaps the most famous Euroleague-related trivia question, and this season sees two more players in a quest to join the likes of a noted half-dozen, including some of the game’s all-time greats – would you believe that duo seeking to join this elite are named Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar?

The €20,000 question is of course, “Which players have won both Euroleague and NBA titles?” Hint: There are six in total, and two are Americans. Guess before clicking “Read More…” to test your skills – BiE’s trusting you to stay away from Google searches and Wikipedia…

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“We are the best team in Europe”: Euroleague Final Four sound bites

The Euroleague officially opened the festivities for the 2011 Final Four yesterday with a squall of press conferences, publicity and media events – but BiE will give you the short version, as presented in video form by the big league itself.

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Euroleague Playoffs: Games four highlights

And suddenly, the Spanish influence on the Euroleague has been reduced to just one team in the final four – exactly as many squads as Greece, Israel and Italy’ll have. Caja Laboral in the end just didn’t have enough answers for Maccabi Tel Aviv’s depth and star power, while Panathinaikos displayed the blueprint for taking out FC Barcelona in dominating the baseline and constantly playing the aggressor in driving time and again to the basket. (Of course, it helps if you have Dimitris Diamantidis in the lineup as well…)

And kudos to Montepaschi Siena for successfully shrugging off a horrible game one loss in what might have been a disaster for morale while reestablishing the hyperquick-moving, high-scoring offense that had faltered a bit in the Top 16 round.

Real Madrid hosts Power Electronics Valencia on “Wednesday or Thursday” to determine the last entry into the Euroleague Final Four, and – BiE’s repeating it here out of shock – España’s only team to go this far.

Highlights from last night’s games, as well as the officially-selected top five plays, follow.

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Bits, bites and videos going into Euroleague playoff games three

Tonight: Which Euroleague teams will be bounced to end their 2010-11 bid? And which will force a game five? A few bits, bites and videos’ worth of notes on tonight’s games below the break from BallinEurope via a buncha other sources – many of which are not actually named “YouTube.” Plus, of course, those patented Official BiE Fearless Predictions™. Enjoy!

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Top 100 teams in Europe: Week of upsets edition

While NBA fans were mostly talking about Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony last week, the buzzword around Europe last week was “upset.” Seemingly from end to end, Continental leagues saw their respective mighty – if not fall – at least stagger from a blow dealt by a lower seed.

Real Madrid lost to new no. 8 Power Electronics Valencia in the ACB block party but maintained a razor-thin lead over Olympiacos for the no. 2 spot in BiE’s top 100; by contrast, Montepaschi’s shocking loss to Pepsi Caserta dumped the Italian side to no. 4. In Turkey, former TBL no. 2 Banvit (now 14-4) was pummeled at seventh-place Olin Ederne; standard juggernaut CSKA Moscow is tumbling down the PBL table in Russia, dropping its second consecutive home loss Saturday night to Spartak St. Petersburg.

And so it went. The top 100 this week runs as follows.

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Official BallinEurope Euroleague Power Rankings: The preseason

Since BallinEurope’s Official Power Rankings were so, um, popular during the FIBA World Championships, today we’re kicking off the same schtick for the upcoming Euroleague campaign.

The rules, again: These rankings are basically purely subjective (at this point; once the games are played, actual wins and losses will be figured in) but are based loosely on last season’s performance, Euroleague seedings before the draw, transactions made in the offseason, and performances in preseason games. (Olympiacos fans, you might want to look away right now.)

Today, the EL according to BiE looks something like the following.

1. FC Barcelona – Early on, it looks like business as usual for the side that dominated European club basketball in 2009-10 (well, until that gnarly showing in the ACB Finals, that is). In the off-season, Barça mostly stood pat while adding “only” Kosta Perovic; this weekend, the Blaugrana pummeled Euroleague contenders Real Madrid and Power Electronics Valencia by 172-118 to cruise to the Spanish Super Cup. Perhaps *this* will be the year Barcelona takes a quadruple cup, eh?

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Euroleague championship trivia

From the Le Sais-Tu Department comes a few interesting news bites on this evening’s Euroleague Championship participants. Read on, triviamongers!

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Your morning Euroleague highlight video fix (heavy on the Linas Kleiza)

Good morning. Enough talk: Let’s get straight to the Euroleague highlight fix!

Below the break runs the top five plays of quarterfinals games two, starring Alan Anderson, D’Or Fischer, Marko Jaric, Viktor Khryapa, burgeoning megastar Jan Vesely, and Josh Childress posterized by Daniel Ewing.

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