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…?
BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini, passed along this delicious clip uploading to YouTube just today. As Ricky Rubio nonchalantly exits the bus and into the facilities in advance of the Rising Stars Challenge making up part of this weekend’s NBA All-Star festivities, observers may notice the, um, quite stylish backpack slung over one shoulder. Pink and purple in color, the baggage is lovingly decked with the smiling countenance of that
easy joke target symbol of what’s wrong with the mass-media music industry proof that there’s no accounting for taste teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.
So what’s the deal here? Surely La Pistola hasn’t become this influenced by the cheesier side of American pop culture this rapidly. Enrico suspects – probably quite correctly – that this, let’s face it, potentially viral-going humiliation was some sort of hazing ritual. And Blake Griffin’s barely held-back smirk makes this embarrassing 37 seconds even more watchable.
And here’s one for the Tony Parker devotees: France-based RMC Sport today quotes Les Bleus’ leader at length on his selection to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game. (Sacre bleu, is it already time to be thinking about the all-star game?) Though much talk is devoted to the San Antonio Spurs’ chances in 2011-12, Parker comes off as utterly effusive about his fourth bid in the marquee game. Indeed, il a laissé éclater sa joie.
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!
Last Sunday in the ‘States, prime-time animated program “The Cleveland Show” ran its take on the NBA All-Star game. Chief among the player cameos was that of Dirk Nowitzki, who gets to do lots of stuff about how he doesn’t speak English so good. Nowitzki was joined by Lebron James (really), Shaquille O’Neal (no surprise there), Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
In an exciting if somewhat obvious promotion, the mighty powers of Blake Griffin, YouTube and ESPN have combined forces to allow basketball fans the opportunity to design a Griffin jam in the All-Star Weekend dunk contest throwdown.
Retrospective time comes again to BallinEurope! But hey, who doesn’t like an excuse to watch a bunch of air-raising slam dunks? Following are 20 of the best dunks pulled off in Europe, by Europeans or on Europeans; whether historically significant or not, all have one thing in common: That awesomeness inherent only in a proper jam. Enjoy a year’s worth of emphatic twos from BiE!
• How great is everything going for Maccabi Tel Aviv this season? They even produced one of the greatest jams of the calendar year with Jeremy Pargo’s bitchin’ double-posterization in which first he breaks ankles before jamming it over (through, really) the hapless Zalgiris Kaunas big man.
As a special gift to BallinEurope readers on this holiest of international holidays, BiE today brings you a truly exclusive one-of-a-kind interview with a legend. The man needs no introduction and it would be impossible to encapsulate his numerous towering achievements with a finite number of words, but BiE will try anyway.
Calvin Stadiums was born in 1981 in Northern South Carolina (east of Northern Georgia); he played a lot of basketball after that and by now his accomplishments can fill two Hall of Fame plaques with enough impressive statistical data to also produce a handy pamphlet to give to people upon entrance. Among his many many many achievements, Stadiums has amassed 25,985 points to go with six MVP awards and is the all-time leader in blocked shots among guards. He’s also known as the greatest trash-talker who ever played the game.
BiE has no idea why Calvin Stadiums took 10 minutes out of his valuable time to give this interview, but we must thank the basketball gods and professional blogger/actorer Brian Spaeth for making it all possible. Enjoy with BiE’s best wishes for a Happy Sizdah Bedar and a Joyeux Poisson d’Avril!
Budapest last night played host to the Harlem Globetrotters, and BallinEurope was among the approximately 4,000 in attendance. Though a generally good time appeared to have been had by all – and particularly, of course, the preteens for whom the team’s brand of tomfoolery is really for – BiE just couldn’t help but wonder at just how relevant this 1920s creation is in the 21st century, despite basketball’s still-burgeoning popularity worldwide.
With a promise to keep the when-I-was-a-lad curmudgeonly rhetoric to a minimum, BiE can tell you i last saw the Harlem Globetrotters in Budapest in 1999 before a crowd nearly twice the size as last night’s. Having essentially gone the entire decade not having seen the Globetrotters in any form, i thrilled to the old refreshing antics, maybe 80% of which i’d utterly forgotten and thus were nearly as amusing at thirtysomething as at eight years old.
In between then and now, of course, the entire basketball landscape – how it is organized, played and especially watched – has changed utterly, slamming gears into the 21st century and quite possibly leaving the Harlem Globetrotters well behind. It is possible in North America to literally watch 24 hours of back-to-back basketball with a little assistance from TiVo (and certainly many tens of thousands have recently attempted this feat with March Madness in full swing); thanks to the expansion of live-streaming and IPTV technology, anywhere in the world equipped with fiber optics can allow a basketball enthusiast outside the ‘States to do likewise.
Ball in Europe will be rounding up this weekend’s European cup action tomorrow, but for today here are a handful of stories from the interwebs this week about every other subject in a seven-day span spent mostly between deprogramming from NBA All-Star Weekend and preparing for the Copa del Rey.
• The best post of this week comes from the past: Specifically, a retelling of events surrounding a team called the Harlem Rens and the 1939 World Professional Basketball Tournament at Hoops Addict. What? You’ve never heard of either? Well, first you can whet your appetite here; then check out the trailer for the Kareem Abdul-Jabber written/produced documentary film, due for general international release in 2010. The book, on Harlem basketball and that area’s cultural Renaissance in the 30s, entitled On the Shoulders of Giants is out now.
• The NBA trade deadline went down this week and unsurprisingly the NBA’s second-most famous draft bust of all-time was dealt from the New York Knicks. All but admitting that the presence of Darko Milicic is as temporary as the 27 games left on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ schedule when he joined the team post-Nate Robinson trade, the team now seems mostly concerned about … making Milicic feel nice.
Says Timberwolves GM David Kahn, “I hope he will give it one more shot. Even if he ends up returning to Europe, I hope he wants to end his NBA career on a positive note. In our situation, he’ll play.”