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The BBL experience – Rowdy in Frankfurt +++ Fearless predictions: Euroleague playoffs +++ A Dario triple-double? Now that’s good timing +++ Swee’ Pea needs your help +++ Final Four: What the bookies say when the bookies talk +++ The greatest Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever +++ Swaggy P’s tribute to Os moving back to the USA +++ Help Swee’ Pea make the big screen +++ The Dish: Can I play with Madness? +++ Just point out the bounce +++
Feb
6

And the Oscar (Robertson) Goes To: Basketball Movies in 2011

Meanwhile, over in Hollywoodland … to no cineaste’s surprise, the silent film The Artist was named “Best Motion Picture of the Year” at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony. While Tinseltown may have had a decent, if not mind-blowing, twelve months of production in 2011 – as evidenced by Woody Allen taking the “Best Original Screenplay” award for Midnight in Paris with his perhaps 24th- or 25th-best ever script – the year in basketball movies was disappointing to say the least.

In hindsight, no real possibility existed for the 2011 crop of hoops flicks to match the previous year’s output in terms of either quantity or quality, what with ESPN in the midst of its “30 for 30” documentary series. Eight basketball documentaries (nine if you include June 17, 1994) mostly well worth watching – spearheaded by the most excellent Once Brothers – were released in ’10 alongside the barely-seen Saints of Mt. Christopher. Plus, BallinEurope got to crack jokes at Common’s expense while enjoying fave Queen Latifah thanks to the essentially NBA-sponsored Hollywood flick Just Wright – who remembers that one?

And, of course, the artistic achievement of the 2009 tour de force, Who Shot Mamba? by former Yahoo Sports blogger/general comic genius at large has yet to be matched by any human endeavor, so one can’t fault the international film community for not approaching this one.

But come on! By BiE’s count, there were four major basketball film productions crafted in the year 2011. A pair of European documentaries saw no release outside their native countries (more on these below), while the compelling-sounding “Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story” is apparently still seeking a distributor. How is this possible? Just check out the official synopsis from producer/director Franklin Martin:

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Feb
1

Why won’t Vladimir Micov dunk? Because “two points is two points”

BallinEurope finally got some time to catch up on some past-due internet reading this weekend, including the immortal Javier Gancedo’s interview with Euroleague Top 16 assist leader Vladimir Micov of Bennet Cantù, perhaps the revelation of European basketball in 2011-12. In the Q&A, Micov touches on subjects including his personal success, Cantù fans and the upcoming match against Maccabi Tel Aviv. But it’s the answer to the following question which will truly capture the imaginations of the dunk-centric fan…

EL: Is it true that you never dunk? And if so, why not?

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Feb
1

Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan: The visual comparison

Courtesy Baltic Basketball League’s and Facebook user Chamillionaire’s pages, below runs a nice graphic visually comparing the achievements of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who is often touted vehemently by rabid Los Angeles Lakers fans sometimes bandied about the blogosphere as being on a level with His Airness.

And after one glance … well, the claim for Kobe isn’t so great. (Though BiE must ask: Where is the comparison of achievements in international competition…?)

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Jun
4

CSKA Moscow takes Russian championship; J.R. Holden announces retirement

The 2010-11 champion has been named in Russia and for the ninth consecutive season, it is CSKA Moscow. Along with the exultation of the Red Army’s 74-63 victory over BC Khimki, however, came the sad (if inevitable) news that longtime Muscovite J.R. Holden would be retiring from professional basketball.

Playing nearly the entire game, Holden’s 25-point, four-steal swansong led his team to the series capper. Series MVP Viktor Khryapa contributed 12 points and four rebounds in the win.

But then, the announcement. Russia-based RIA Novosti today reports that after the game, Holden told his teammates that “This was probably my last basketball match. I’ve decided to end my career.” As for whether the naturalized citizen will play for Team Russia in FIBA Eurobasket 2011, Holden stated to the media that he’d promised coach David Blatt to participate and “I plan to keep my word, [but] so far I can’t say exactly if I’ll play in the European championship or not. I still have a week to think about it.”

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Jun
1

Hey, who wouldn’t want to be like Dirk?

“I wanna be like Mike?” That’s sooooooo 1990s. In light of the recent Dallas Mavericks championship bid, the folks at Dirkenbrau Beer (actually, the parodists at FunnyOrDie.com) have released their new ad campaign entitled “I wanna be like Dirk.”

Get out a cold one, then, and check out the wave of popularity washing over courts worldwide…

Special thanks to heinnews for the heads up!

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Jun
6

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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Jun
2

74 is the magic number: Nancy takes French title; Barcelona wins game two; Freak City cruises in Germany

While much of the basketball hype from the ‘States in currently focused on tonight’s scintillating NBA championship game six, BiE today runs a quick jaunt through Europe’s championship action, with video-embedded stops in France, Spain and Germany. Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™ at the very bottom.

First up, congratulations to new LNB champs SLUC Nancy, who earned a 2011-12 Euroleague bid in nipping Cholet Basket, 76-74, in France’s one-game winner-take-all championship final yesterday.

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Mar
0

Pau Gasol’s Facebook page: 2 million served

Have you “liked” Pau Gasol’s Facebook page today? If so, you’re now one of the Laker big man’s two million-plus fans on the social network site.

Pau delivered the 20-second, locker-room shoutout to his virtual horde on – where else? – YouTube posted below. Gasol today ranks 871st on the “Facebook Pages Leaderboard,” just ahead of Stephen King and “Pretty Woman,” and trailing “That 70s Show” and “Me acabo de dar cuenta que la palabra ‘reconocer’ es igual al revés…”

Gasol still has some ways to go to catch the top basketball-themed Facebook pages, though. The top ranked roundball page is – go ahead, take a guess – Michael Jordan’s, which clocks in at no. 95 on the ‘site, with some 9,129,862. His Airness once again proves that he’s bigger than the game (“basketball” ranks 100th with 8.95 million fans) and the NBA itself (which ranks 121st at just over 8 million adherents).

Tops among active players is – another easy one – Kobe Bryant, with 7,457,609 fans as of this writing, good for 145th place on the list; the Los Angeles Lakers page claims 153rd with over 7.25 million likes.

Gasol thanks two million of you below the break.

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Mar
3

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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Feb
4

And the Oscar (Robertson) goes to: Basketball Movies in 2010

So the envelopes have been opened and the celebratory parties in Tinseltown have yet to truly begin as Hollywood’s version of the NBA All-Star Weekend draws to a close. BallinEurope spent most of the weekend flipping between the ACB, NBA, “Black Swan” and “The Kids are All Right,” and is thus in perfect mindset to present the 2011 Oscar (Robertson) awards for cinematic basketball excellence.

Wait, did BiE say “cinematic”? That particular adjective may be slightly inaccurate for the films of 2010, especially considering the key noun “excellence” is also involved: In terms of basketball movies, the good news/bad news summation for last year’s roundball cinema subgenre informs that, while the volume of full-length features, documentaries and short videos was up in 2010, a single force dominated in terms of quality. And that force was ESPN. And last year’s best basketball films were, simply put, all on TV.

First, the field in the race for the “Best Dramatic Full-Length Feature” Oscar (Robertson).

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