Basketball World Cup of Beer: The Final – USA vs France +++ Tight knit Iceland too much for Great Britain +++ EuroBasket 2015: Round-up and Highlights from Wednesday’s qualifiers +++ FIBA dropped a sweet promo for the World Cup +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer – Bronze Medal Match +++ Rudy gets iced, the internet rejoices +++ FIBA World Cup Preview – Group C +++ CSKA Moscow’s Kyle Hines and Sonny Weems take the ice bucket challenge +++ Tony Parker does ice bucket challenge but his friend can’t use a camera phone +++ Basketball World Cup of Beer: Semi Finals +++

Podcast: Talking Euroleague Final Four basketball with Talk Basket

Taking the Charge podcast seriesEpisode #34 of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Talking the Charge” podcast series is now available online and is downloadable from iTunes.

With the Euroleague Final Four overshadowing all else in Continental hoops this week, Dave Hein and yours truly were naturally set to chat up the big tournament – after BiE tees off on a sports-related pet peeve (Hint: Go Washington Redtails!), that is.

Just skip the first 10 minutes of the ‘cast if you’re not particularly enamored with American football, as Britain-based John Hobbs of discusses the impact (if any) this tournament will have on the British sports landscape. Plus, he offers his take on the CSKA Moscow-Olympiacos match happening tomorrow and BiE is forced once again to defend his choice for 2013 Euroleague MVP.

All this plus a review of one of the best worst basketball movies BiE’s ever seen (and that’s saying something), the hilariously-entitled Michael Jordan: An American Hero.

Check out the entire podcast here or to subscribe from this episode ad infinitum, enter into iTunes or any podcast aggregator.

Thanks for listening and talk to you next week!

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Basketball Movies in 2012: The winner of the Oscar (Robertson) for Best Full-Length Feature is…

It’s that time of year again in Hollywood as America’s movie-making industry tonight rolls out the red carpet for the Academy Awards, its annual celebration of excellence in film. In parallel, BallinEurope likewise awards (and by “awards,” BiE here means to say “writes up a column and pretends to gift an utterly imaginary trophy to the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar”) the Oscar (Robertson) every year for the best in basketball movies. Previous winners include:

2009. Who Shot Mamba?

2010. Best Full-Length Feature: The Saints of Mt. Christopher. Best Overall: Once Brothers

2011. On the Shoulders of Giants

Assessing year 2012 in basketball movies in short: Wow. In terms of sheer numbers, the past year blew away recent crops in a real boon the cinema junkies among basketball fans. Not only did ESPN’s “30 for 30” series debut a half-dozen quality roundball-focused documentaries, 20th anniversary celebrations of the Barcelona Olympic Games spawned a pair of films charting two of the most memorable teams in us older guys’ lifetime while Hollywood attempted to launch the acting career of Kevin Durant. And the year of Ben Affleck’s Argo also saw release of an ambitious independent film about an American playing ball in Iran

As a result, BiE’s widening the playing field a bit for 2013 — you know, kinda like how the Academy did four years ago so that a bit more mediocrity could creep into the “Best Picture” category and snubs of Quentin Tarantino would be made all the more obvious. With so much to celebrate in 2012 basketball movies, BiE awards four virtual trophies this time ’round. So without further ado, the first envelope, please!

Best Full-Length Feature: Thunderstruck. The best review BiE read on KD’s star movie turn read, “I have to say this is the best kids’ movie starring the greatest basketball player of his time since Space Jam. The only problem is that this is the only kids’ movie starring the greatest basketball player of his time since Space Jam.”

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BallinEurope’s most popular stories of 2012

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.

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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.)

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Twenty years ago today: The Barcelona Games

The 1992 Olympic Games, the Games of the XXV Olympiad: The first to be held without mass boycotts and, by many estimation, the greatest Olympics ever in presentation, hosting, and competition. It was the Games of Hungarian swimmer Krisztina Egerszegi, of Belorussian/Unified Team member Vitaly Scherbo in gymnastics, of the Russian men’s swimming team, of Cuban baseball – but most of all it was basketball that took center stage on the worldwide court in Barcelona.

On this day in 1992, the Dream Team, Team Croatia and Team Lithuania played in their first-ever Olympic basketball games. In memory of these fantastic, historically significant squads, BallinEurope presents some highlight clips from the ’92 Games.

Day one of 1992 Olympic basketball saw the tournament’s powers take care of business: tie-dyed Lithuania handled China, 112-75; Croatia bested Brazil, 93-76; and the stripped-down CIS/USSR side got past Venezuela, 78-64. Of course, the game the world was watching that day would be the biggest laugher of the entire competition: The Dream Team’s infamous 116-48 decimation of Angola.

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Twenty years ago today: The greatest in his greatest season

Drazen Petrovic: The name is always mentioned in any discussion of all-time greatest European player, his effect inestimable, his ultimate greatness unknowable. BallinEurope has waxed poetic on the Basketball Mozart innumerable times already, but must say that lost in the general hoopla of the Dream Team in 1992 was the fact that one of the world’s top three or four players at that time (BiE’d put him with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen) wasn’t on Team USA.

Following a year which saw the dissolution of his Team Yugoslavia and the finalization of his demanded trade to the New Jersey Nets, Petrovic’s brilliant 1991-92 season earned him a deserved reputation among the NBA elites. The stats say the Croat led the Nets in points (20.6 per game), shooting percentage (50.8%), three-point percentage (44.4%) and minutes played (36.9 per game with appearances in all 82 games), but they just called him team MVP.

Along with Derrick Coleman, Petrovic helped the Nets to a 14-win increase over 1990-91 and the playoffs, racking up some amazing individual performances such as the 29 he dropped on the Boston Celtics early in that season…

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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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Dalibor Bagaric on time with Chicago Bulls: “I was unlucky”

Old pro Sam Smith of has written an exceptional column on present (though perhaps for but a wee bit longer, if speculation is to believed) and former Chicago Bulls Luol Deng and Dalibor Bagaric.

A good portion of this epic-by-today’s-standard is devoted to possible trade destinations for the Team Britain big man — even though Smith believes Deng’s recent musings on getting dealt. Most intriguing is a proposition swapping Deng to the Houston Rockets for Kyle Lowry, thereby freeing up Goran Dragic to start there and creating one wicked backcourt in Chicago.

Smith then switches gears and drops a bit of trivia. To wit: Which players have played 10 seasons in European professional basketball and at least three in the NBA? Smith’s got:

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Who’s the greatest, Lebron or Kobe? Don’t argue, it’s useless…

Courtesy the Facebook page entitled Il basket è Vita comes this excellent perspective-inducer regarding the basketball careers of Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and one other guy. Here are the first two panels; see below the break for the punchline and rough translation of the dialogue into English – though these images really speak for themselves. (Funny, BallinEurope knew Kobe was fluent in Italiano, but Lebron…?)

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Olympiacos wins! Olympiacos wins! Olympiacos wins! (a.k.a. *The* European basketball story of 2011-12)

Let’s put this into perspective. The last time Olympiacos took the Greek national title, they were led by David Rivers and Dragan Tarlać. Vassilis Spanoulis was 15 years old and not near professional club play. Dejan Bodiroga was in the middle of his career and Mirsad Turkcan had just turned 21.

Across the pond, Lebron James was 13; Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and *those* Chicago Bulls were about to earn their fifth rings; Kobe Bryant had just become the NBA record-setter as youngest NBA starter ever. In international play, Team USA still wore an aura of invincibility. The World Trade Center was still standing and the European Union was optimistically looking forward to including former communist-led countries as member states.

It seems like a dream to BallinEurope, so one can only goggle at how Olympiacos fans must be feeling today (aside from hungover, that is). Yes, the Reds in the decisive game five of the national championship series took the 82-76 victory over rival Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, nine-time consecutive champions and typically previously perpetual Olympiacos nightmare this time of year.

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