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 Miami Heat with Hot Hot Hoops, Bayern Munich business with club GM; reviewing underrated basketball movie classic He Got Game

Episode #37 of the BallinEurope/heinnews co-produced “Taking the Charge” podcast series is now available online or via iTunes. After the usual patter on Euroleague rumors (especially this one) and VTB United League playoffs, the good stuff starts happening.

First up to guest on the show is Bayern Munich general manager Marko Pesic, who chats up heinnews on the seemingly overwhelming and undeniably impressive growth of the club since the beginning of this decade and its second-division Bundesliga standing. BiE continues to be fascinated with team’s master plan built on little more than the club’s football brand and um, well, that’s it, really. The fact of the matter – call it a BallinEurope Official Fearless Prediction™ if you will – is that this team, barring unforeseen financial or personnel disaster, will be playing Euroleague ball within two seasons. Thus is Pesic good to hear from.

And the GM gives us insight into the truth to rumors that Bayern will make a run at signing Ratiopharm Ulm’s John Bryant. Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.

Following Pesic is Jay Ramos, writer for the Miami Heat-centric SB Nation site Hot Hot Hoops. Ramos speaks to us about, well, the Miami Heat; more specifically, topics include mostly Lebron, more Lebron, Dwyane Wade, a tiny bit of Ray Allen and Shane Battier, Lebron, you get the idea. But can BiE put the fear of Tony Parker in Ramos? Tune in to find out – Ramos’ own predictions for the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Championship outcome are also here, as are BallinEurope’s.

Incidentally, when was the last time an NBA playoff series stood at 2-2 yet was so widely accepted to be a foregone conclusion…?

The Taking the Charge sports movie review of the week focuses on He Got Game, an unfairly under-seen film by New York Knicks ultrafan Spike Lee starring Denzel Washington and now-Heat former-Milwaukee Bucks/Boston Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen. The short take: See this film. If you already have, watch it again. For many more reasons why, listen in…

Finally, also of note is our bumper music: Fantastic and rights-free material from Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and DJ Danger Mouse – great stuff you may never have heard before.

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

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Oldboy in London: New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee checks out O2, tweets with fans, disses Brooklyn Nets

Spike LeeUnfortunately 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.

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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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Sunday bullets: Real Madrid analyzed; Szczerbiak, Boumtje-Boumtje remembered; retro Nike ads return

The "beautiful, enigmatic bastard"

Lazy Sunday? Great: BallinEurope has just the thing to occupy your time! Below run some quality articles and gawk-worthy YouTubes from the week that was in European basketball and NBA lockout land for your perusal. The bullet-point format is in effect and the show stars Danny Green, Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Walter Szczerbiak, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. Enjoy!

• For an excellent and thorough piece on the Real Madrid offense (and concomitant weak interior defense) in light of Thursday night’s Euroleague loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv, check out this work at In The Game. Figures writer Rod Higgins in part: “…it is doubtful that [Real’s] current style will serve them particularly well once the regular season is over. Madrid get most of their wins by simply outscoring their opponents. This means that they have to improve defensively; Bilbao, Milano and Maccabi have repeatedly exposed the weak interior defense of the Merengues earlier in the season…”

• Hey, some positivity for the Lithuanian fans! Roll the top 10 plays by Lietuvos Rytas in October!

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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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Plea to New York Knicks: Forget Lebron!

About a day remains before Lebron James presents his version of The Big Reveal, spilling his guts before hundreds of media members like an NCAA prospect officially choosing a uni. (Hey, maybe Lebron should spread three baseball caps in front of him, pick one up and put it on his head…)

On the eve of this auspicious occasion – he’s going back to no-infrastructure Cleveland on a two-year deal, BiE just knows it – BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, weighs in on what exactly New York Knicks fans should do vis-à-vis King James. To wit: Nothing.

So it’s a big statement to make in the Summer of Lebron’s Free Agency, but I’m going to make it anyway: The New York Knicks should give up on trying to get Lebron James and instead make themselves a contender with a big three.

I have many, many reasons for saying this and here are two: 1) I’m not a big fan of Lebron; 2) I secretly want the Knicks to succeed.

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Confirmed: Divac’s “Once Brothers” in ESPN’s “30 for 30″ series

Thanks go out this morning to the folks at ESPN Communications and congratulations go out to Vlade Divac and filmmaker Michael Tolajian, whose documentary film “Jednom braća” (“Once Brothers”) has been confirmed as part of ESPN’s high-profile “30 for 30” documentary film series. The addition of Tolajian’s film to the series had been reported by Serbia media earlier this week.

The “30 for 30” series features medium-length films on a sports subject; among the notable names contributing directorial skills to the series are Barry Levinson, Steve Nash, Ice Cube and Morgan Freeman.

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Movie review: Streetballers

Amidst the NBA All-Star weekend festivities starting up tonight in Dallas, the independently-produced film Streetballers continues its distribution through America with a VIP celebrity/NBA charity screening and fundraiser. Set to host festivities is the Los Angeles Lakers’ Josh Powell, certainly the movie’s biggest fan (that’s his “best basketball film ever made” remark on promo material); P. Diddy will be hosting the post-screening bash.

Streetballers premiered in 2009 and stars Jimmy McKinney, the former University of Missouri/current Deutsche Bank Skyliners guard.

The film will be going on to local premieres in Miami, Washington D.C., and New York City – so how about bringing it to The Continent, Mr. Krentz? – but is available now in a special DVD edition (including lotsa extras) along with the soundtrack via NeoFlix. Click here for the official Streetballers movie website.

Review and official trailer follow.

It’s absurd if you think about it. Basketball itself, i mean. Seriously, what are we spending so much time doing, watching, obsessing over? An amusement involving humans displaying very specialized skills with the ultimate goal of inducing a ball to complete passage through a metal ring. That’s it.

Yet, to those who play the game, to those seek to make the game a life’s calling, to those who live and die with the games, it transcends. Strong individual personalities aside, team play in basketball requires a dissolution of the ego, a submission of self to greater altruistic good, to work best. Basketball can make one a better person, can bridge gaps in communication across fear and history, can bring pride to a nation.

Why? Call it the power of love of the game. And love, as we know, is its own reward.

Streetballers is a product of love of the game, and the first feature film from independent film quadruple threat director/producer/writer/lead actor Matthew Scott Krentz. It’s a deft exploration of true-to-life characters in a visual essay on how basketball links us all. (It’s no coincidence that the PR blurb on the film’s page leads with “Streetballers is for basketball what Field of Dreams was for baseball,” i.e. “Defining street basketball as America’s new favorite pastime” or, as an updated Terence Mann might say, “basketball has marked the time.”)

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Michael “Air” Jordan gets his own documentary

.. and of course it will be directed by Spike Lee. Why are we writing about this? Because Spike Lee hopes to show the documentary about the best basketball player ever in Cannes, France next year at the annual movie festivals.

Spike Lee announced at Cannes on Monday (May 20) that he is directing a feature-length documentary about basketball superstar Michael Jordan, which he hopes to bring to next year’s Cannes Festival. The project will feature previously-unseen footage shot by NBA cameras during the final two years in Jordan’s career, the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.


If you like Michael Jordan, and I bet 100% of the people that read this blog LOVE MJ, this is a must-see; you might even consider flying to the South of France to see the premiere of this movie about Michael Jordan. At least I am.