From the Just Because Department and the pages of Spanish-language website Jordan Y Pippen, here’s a still from the NBA All-Star Game that somehow we all missed as Kobe Bryant went on a personal mission to shut down Lebron James in the fourth quarter. The headline proclaims “Kobe to test a pair of ‘hats’ on Lebron” (Gotta be wordplay…), while word bubble has Kobe explaining his eschewing of the particular model he was apparently given for something better — perhaps a Nike-branded model…?
Before those days of text-messaging, tweeting and desktop computers larger than actual desk, NASA had set out, as the story goes, to develop a pen that could write in zero-gravity conditions where ink doesn’t properly flow. After thousands of man-hours and surely millions of dollars were invested to no avail, one day a devastating bit of news came from intelligence. The Russians had not only already solved the problem at a fraction of the US’ cost, the solution had proved 100% workable in the demanded conditions. That solution? Use a pencil.
Again, the story is likely untrue in terms of sheer fact, but it does illustrate the tendency of certain cultures at this point in history to throw money at propositions thought best addressed with high-tech.
Thus, today we have Fox Sports Net blogger Joan Niesen using a new high-tech camera to tell us something the Russians (and any international hoops devotee) could’ve figured much more cheaply: That Andrei Kirilenko’s skills are so intangible yet so omnipresent as to defy easy statistical analysis. Niesen uses STATS’ SportVU 3-D camera system to produce some wider-ranging statistics to better express how much AK-47 means to this year’s Timberwolves.
Notes Niesen, among other things:
• “Kirilenko possesses the ball an average of 49 times per game, for an average of 80 seconds per game. That’s the largest amount of time holding the ball for any player on the team that does not play at the point guard position.
About five years ago, Mickaël Gelabale went down to a knee injury playing for the Seattle Supersonics. The following season, he played D-League ball. Just last month he was with Valencia BC, latest stop in 3½ seasons in Europe. Surely no one reckoned he’d be starting in the big league ever again, even when the injury-riddled Minnesota Timberwolves signed him to the first of two 10-day contracts.
No one, perhaps, except for Gelabale himself, who never gave up on the dream. As the Team France player told the Minneapolis Tribune after his signing with the Wolves in mid-January: “I [was] always thinking like that. When I was in France, I was thinking to come back. I was in Russia thinking about it. I was in Spain thinking about it.” (Actually, he omitted Croatia and Belgium there…)
Thought became reality last night for Gelabale against the San Antonio Spurs in a nicely international-flavored NBA matchup: Even with Andrei Kirilenko and Manu Ginobili not suiting up, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, Nando de Colo, Boris Diaw, Alexey Shved, Nikola Pekovic and of course Ricky represented the non-American rolls.
BallinEurope would really appreciate it if a native speaker of Japanese could translate the below piece on Nikola Pekovic and the Minnesota Timberwolves which recently ran in the periodical Dunk Shot – but it’s already a great big hunk of awesome. Check out the manga versions of Peks, sharp-angled Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey “Tiny” Shved and the doe-eyed Ricky Rubio (What? No Mickael Gelabale?) doing some kind of super task forcey thing and … is that Bill Walton there in panel four?
On second thought, maybe a translation *is* necessary…
Podcast: Lots of talk on Lithuanian basketball; musing about Euroleague, Lakers, Timberwolves; loving Jennifer Lawrence
Episode #20 of the heinnews/BallinEurope co-produced Taking the Charge podcast is now available online. This week, that hardworking David Hein and yours truly natter on a bit about recent Euroleague developments (poor, poor Maccabi Tel Aviv!), the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers before finally finding some focus in Lithuania.
As BiE continuously says, something’s always happening in Lithuanian basketball and recent times are no exception. Freelance hoops writer/BallinEurope agent in Lietuva, Karolis Jankus gives us a little inside dope on topics including:
• Zalgiris Kaunas and the strange culture of losing theorized about on BallinEurope earlier in the week;
• Team Lithuania head coach Jonas Kazlauskas and the strange events which led to his current gig in the CBA with Boss Wang’s Guangdong Southern Tigers;
• Lithuania Basketball Federation secretary-general Mindaugas Balčiūnas, currently under house arrest while prosecutors “are carrying out a pre-trial investigation into alleged jobbery, fraud, document forgery and [...] illegal use of municipal funds for the reconstruction of the Hotel Romantic” in connection with Eurobasket 2011;
• the perhaps unfairly languishing Donatas Motiejunas, who at least must be praised for attitude and work ethic while running up the DNPs; and
• Lietuvos Rytas’ recent victory in its Nike Invitational Junior Tournament bracket, tourney MVP Edvinas Seskus and other Lithuanian prospects.
And our sports movie review of the week is all about the Academy Award-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper, Chris Tucker, Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence (swoon). Tangentially related to sport at best (Philadelphia Eagles worship colors the reels), hey, it still has Jennifer Lawrence.
The entire podcast may be heard here. Thanks for listening and talk to you next week!
With so many observers, players and blogosphere fanatics weighing in on both perpetual trade-bait Pau Gasol and his currently sorry-looking Los Angeles Lakers, it’s no surprise that Spanish-language media outlets have taken to speaking with Pau’s Team Spain teammate Rudy Fernandez on the maddening situation.
In a piece appearing in El Confidencial under the headline quote “Pau Gasol is going through a difficult time because D’Antoni does not understand,” Fernandez defended the Laker further by explaining that Gasol “still brings things to the team and has a good philosophy to help the team.” In an echo of steadily increasing murmurs and related posts online, Fernandez believes that making Pau a jump shooter is not playing to the Spaniard’s strengths.
Spain-based Blog de Basket expounded a bit further on Rudy’s remarks made on the radio, quoting the Madridista as explaining that “…D’Antoni is a coach who likes to play with [a faster, small-ball game] and Pau does not. He has proven to be one of the best centers the world and if you pass it inside, he’s going to take something safe, but D’Antoni doesn’t understand this and Pau shoots [from outside].”
Can you say “leaving the sinking ship”? Memphis, Tennessee-based sports reporter Chris Vernon is today reporting that his hometown Grizzlies will soon be welcoming back Slovenian Sasha Vujacic to the NBA.
Earlier today (CET time), word was leaked that the Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers would execute a multi-player trade designed to give the former team some cap space – $6 million to be precise – by shedding $4.2-million man Marreese Speights along with Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a first-round draft pick for Jon Leuer. Due to the trade, the Grizz now have open spots on the roster and a trade exception good through early 2014; minus two guards, Memphis is clearly looking to bring in some inexpensive backcourt help … such as Vujacic, who’ll certainly be happy to leave his troubled Euroleague side Anadolu Efes.
Vernon also reported that Bill Walker and Delonte West are also likely to be inked by the Grizzlies.
Oldboy in London: New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee checks out O2, tweets with fans, disses Brooklyn Nets
Unfortunately criminally underrated in the greater popular consciousness as a film director (to wit: why are films like Clockers, The 25th Hour, Summer of Sam more well-remembered and -respected?), Spike Lee nevertheless enjoys tremendous notoriety as the world’s biggest, most visible New York Knicks fan – and as a fantastic Tweeter as well.
Spike will naturally be sitting courtside for the Knicks’ game against the Detroit Pistons in London’s O2 Arena tonight to support “Africa’s team” (He just said that). And this morning UK time, the director paid heed to the Knickerbocker nation and his own fans by taking to Twitter; BallinEurope today rounds up Spike’s mass media and social media foray…
The verdict on London in general after the first 24 hours or so? Tweeteth the Spike: “London is HIP.” A few more immediate impressions may be seen below, as Spike got plenty of facetime before international media.
This just in from TalkBasket.net: According to the international hoops-centric website, the San Antonio Spurs have signed Union Olimpija’s Aron Baynes to a multi-year deal and will complete a $400,000 buyout to land the player’s rights. Baynes had worked out for NBA teams including the Sacramento Kings in 2009, but didn’t stick in the big league.
After flirting with Erazem Lorbek in the offseason, Spurs brass were no doubt impressed by Baynes’ EL regular-season display (during which he looked much like Lorbek, 2011-12 edition) in which all he did was lead the league in two-point attempts, two-pointers made, offensive rebounds, total rebounds and performance index rating.
For San Antonio fans who subscribe to the “seeing is believing” credo, here’s a couple of goodies for you…