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Nov
2

On Barack Obama and basketball diplomacy

Note: This piece was first published in February 2012.

Hosting dignitaries and politicos from Italy this week, U.S. president/basketball devotee Barack Obama recently gave an interview to the visiting media as well, naturally taking time to praise Italia’s representatives in the NBA. As self-proclaimed scholar of basketball diplomacy – perhaps the only one on the planet – Enrico Cellini has noticed that Obama’s effusive acclaim for Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli is in fact quite similar to the prez’s gushy quotes on Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur back in 2009…

In a rare interview between an American president and an Italian newspaper, Barack Obama went through a wide variety of topics ranging from the state of the current Euro Crisis, through the turmoil in Syria to the importance of Italian-Americans in US society: “Italy can be proud that its sons and daughters continue to make invaluable contributions to the success of the United States and to our bilateral partnership”.

Of course, Obama didn’t miss the chance to deploy his trademark basketball diplomacy and dropped the following grand finale for the interview: “Of course, I have to add that guys like Danillo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli bring some pretty good game to the NBA, too.

Continue Reading…

Feb
32

First half report cards for European players in NBA

At the halfway point of the crazy fast 2011-12 NBA season, BallinEurope flexes the university professor muscles a little bit this morning with midterm assessments of individual performance by the big league’s Continental Players. We’ll be using the European grading system, with 5 being the top score possible and 1 the lowest; the Americans may consider the numbers roughly equivalent to the A-F system of U.S. high schools.

Listed along with the player’s name and team are a few metrics employed in handing out the marks, chief among these current Player Efficiency Ratings as devised by ESPN’s John Hollinger.

Now, class. Ready for the second half…?

5. Head of the class
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors (22.1 PER, 23.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (19.23 PER, 15.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 1.0 spg, 38.1 mpg)

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (22.32 PER, 19.4 ppg, 8.1 apg, 1.1 spg)

Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves (22.38 PER, 12.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 0.7 spg, 24.4 mpg; in February, 17.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 0.8 spg, 32.2 mpg)

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Feb
1

TBL roundup: Bandirma Kirmizi stuns Fenerbahce Ulker; Morrison, Pops star for Besiktas; Galatasaray holds on to third place

The Turkish Basketball League, rapidly becoming the most competitive European basketball league, saw a number of key games go down this weekend to tighten things up some at the top of the table. While TBL teams gained much international attention for signing big-name NBAers, e.g. Deron Williams, Sasha Vujacic, Ersan Ilyasova, Mehmet Okur, etc., during the NBA lockout period, BallinEurope reckons they should be more recognized for the excellent parity ruling over Turkish basketball. Might the reign of the twin Euroleague powers Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahçe Ülker be waning?

After the weekend’s action, the top five on the TBL table stayed put, but a stunning upset handed to Fenerbahçe by last-place Bandirma Kirmizi locks the defending league champions in the fifth spot for at least a couple more weeks. Read on for brief writeups on key games, video clips and a look at the standings – just be sure to keep those scorecards at the ready as the league heads into the homestretch; you’ll need ‘em…

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Feb
5

Basketball diplomacy: Obama plagiarizes self in praise of Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli

Hosting dignitaries and politicos from Italy this week, U.S. president/basketball devotee Barack Obama recently gave an interview to the visiting media as well, naturally taking time to praise Italia’s representatives in the NBA. As self-proclaimed scholar of basketball diplomacy – perhaps the only one on the planet – Enrico Cellini has noticed that Obama’s effusive acclaim for Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli is in fact quite similar to the prez’s gushy quotes on Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur back in 2009…

In a rare interview between an American president and an Italian newspaper, Barack Obama went through a wide variety of topics ranging from the state of the current Euro Crisis, through the turmoil in Syria to the importance of Italian-Americans in US society: “Italy can be proud that its sons and daughters continue to make invaluable contributions to the success of the United States and to our bilateral partnership”.

Of course, Obama didn’t miss the chance to deploy his trademark basketball diplomacy and dropped the following grand finale for the interview: “Of course, I have to add that guys like Danillo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli bring some pretty good game to the NBA, too.

Continue Reading…

Dec
9

The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Western Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.

*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).

As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.

To BiE, it looks something like this.

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Dec
10

The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Eastern Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

While basketball lovers are getting something of a Christmas gift this season in the December 25 NBA opening day – BiE says “something of” there because this belated debut is kinda like your parents saying, “Well, we’ll just give you your birthday gift at Christmas.” When your birthday’s in October – BallinEurope would like to add to the virtual bounty under the tree with our annual Eurocentric NBA preview.

Here’s BallinEurope’s predominant working theory for at least the first two months of this season: The teams with more critical players who did a stint in Europe (or South America, for that matter) during the lockout will jump out to the best starts. And with a shortened season increasing the importance of every individual game, imagine what a, say, 17-5 could mean in the long-term – for a European equivalent of this model, how ‘bout that CSKA Moscow turbo boost?

So Kevin Garnett’s complaining that the preseason is too short … guys like Deron Williams have already been in real-game situations. Manu Ginobili is well rested but not “in basketball shape?” The Danilo Gallinaris, Mehmet Okurs and even the Gasol Brothers of the basketball world are set to go. More back-to-back games than ever before in NBA history? Hey, perhaps those two-a-days European coaches are so notorious for assigning will have readied these NBAers well more than the fortnight many of their colleagues are getting.

BiE would even argue that latecomers such as Tiago Splitter and late-peakers like Serge Ibaka are surely few steps ahead of the many American ballers who did not take Continental clubs up on even the most outrageous of offers. It is with this dictum in mind that this preview and Official Fearless Predictions™ were written. Today, the Eastern Conference.

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Nov
0

Parting shots, part one: Okur throws dagger; Splitter near double-double; D-Will’s jersey retired (no, really)

A few players returning to the NBA made expected final appearances with their European clubs last night as the mass departure to the ‘States begins. BallinEurope runs down a handful of individual performances from Adriatic League, Eurocup, and FIBA Eurochallenge games.

• Big shot of the night, NBA-related or no, was certainly Mehmet Okur’s three-point dagger to give Turk Telekom the 83-81 win over Pinar Karsiyaka. Reports FIBA Europe in part: “With Turkish basketball still talking about the 50-point explosion by Okur’s former Utah Jazz teammate Deron Williams for Beşiktaş last week, Okur capped another solid performance with a long-range shot that gave the Ankara team an 83-81 triumph on Tuesday.

“Utah Jazz big man Okur, like New Jersey Nets guard Williams, is to soon head back to the United States following Saturday’s announcement that the lockout is set to end this week.

“Okur had 14 points and 10 rebounds in Izmir against Karsiyaka. … His free throw had given Turk Telekom an 80-79 advantage with 31 seconds to go, but Karsiyaka went back out in front when Alper Saruhan landed a jumper.

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Sep
18

Top salaries in European basketball, 2011-12

Kudos and thanks to BallinEurope reader Agent, who recently crunched some numbers for basketball fans vis-à-vis the top salaries in European basketball for the 2011-12 season. In case you’re wondering why some top NBA names are seriously considering jumping the puddle, check out the findings below.

Using euros as the currency, and figuring for net income, i.e. after taxes, as of September 25th, 2011, the top 10 highest-paid players in European professional club basketball for the 2011-12 season are:

1 (tie). Mehmet Okur, Turk Telekom Ankara – €3.5 million net income
1 (tie). Deron Williams, Beşiktaş – €3.5 million
3 (tie). Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow – €3.0 million
3 (tie). Rudy Fernandez, Real Madrid – €3.0 million
5. Ersan Ilyasova, Efes Istanbul – €2.7 million
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Sep
2

Profile: Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz’ no. 3 overall draft pick

With Team Turkey bounced from Eurobasket 2011, BallinEurope’s Sam Chadwick takes a brief look back at the play of prospective Utah Jazz big man Enes Kanter during the tournament — and a look forward to speculate on what he can do in the NBA. Will he be a Al Horford type? Can he compete against the tops in the NBA? And he will get any playing minutes? Read on…

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Aug
8

NBA stars playing in Europe: What are the odds…?

You know Tony's coming over...

First, BallinEurope would like to a couple more American players to The Continent, as Milwaukee Bucks second-round draft pick Jon Leuer has signed with the Bundesliga’s Frankfurt Skyliners to play during the NBA lockout and undrafted Colorado State University forward Andy Ogide has joined the ranks of LEB club Breogán.

But as the BiE schadenfreudometer works overtime, the Euroleague Transfers Table loads up with NBA names (Hello, Mr. Farmar and bienvenue to you, Monsieur Batum!), and the working assumption currently figuring the big league to be playing an abbreviated schedule in 2011-12 at best, BallinEurope admits that he’s becoming spoiled about new news on NBA players jumping the Atlantic to play ball here.

And so, without too much hard fact recently on NBAers, marquee or otherwise, making said leap, BiE today presents odds on some players rumored to be plying their wares in Europe soon. Readers should note that these odds are offered at no bookmaker service and are completely arbitrary (which is to say mostly made up).

Dirk Nowitzki: 3/5. The incredible story of the Bayern München basketball club’s resurrection to primacy would be made complete by signing Dastardly Dirk, hero of the 2011 NBA Finals.

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