So the Euroleague season is over and, though domestic league action is still with us for a couple months longer (BallinEurope’s “European Champions” feature is coming soon), something of that international competition spirit is missing for the nonce – at least until the FIBA World Championships in August and September!
And so the high-profile FIBA advertising campaign is starting to become more ubiquitous on at least English-language sports stations and websites. The “Giant Get-Together” campaign, prepared by Turkish production company Böcek Yapim for FIBA, is of quite attractive concept and design, centered on the juxtaposition of key national-team players and the gorgeous sights of host Turkey. (Though the Carlos Arroyo entry is a bit strange; what’s he doing to/on that bridge?)
While attending the Euroleague championship tournament in Paris – recovering from the frivolity and devotion nicely, thank you very much – BallinEurope and the assembled media got their fair share of “Giant Get-Together” promotional material. Everybody was grooving on more free stuff (hey, that’s why you go into journalism) and wondering how to get 20 posters onto the plane with major crushage until Frankie Sachs of Euroleague.net pointed out a salient point: Is FIBA missing something?
See if you can figure out the conspicuous commonality Sachs immediately recognized. Below runs a list of the players featured in the “Giant Get-Together” advertising campaign, along with their national teams.
Joel Anthony, Canada
Carlos Arroyo, Puerto Rico
Andrew Bogut, Australia
Kobe Bryant, USA
Pau Gasol, Spain
Ersan Ilyasova, Turkey
Andrei Kirilenko, Russia
Dirk Nowitski, Germany
Mehmet Okur, Turkey
Tony Parker, France
Luis Scola, Argentina
Hedo Turkoglu, Turkey
Anderson Varejão, Brazil
Jianlian Yi, China
Did you spot it? All 12 players listed (therefore handily comprising a full Dream Team roster of FIBA Championship players, BiE notes, though apparently Bogut, Okur and Gasol will be on the disabled/holdout list this year) are current NBA players.
Now. While the NBA is universally recognized as the world’s greatest basketball league, does this automatically guarantee exclusion of all players from outside U.S. professional ball? The inclusion of three Team Turkey players indicates a strong desire to place the locally-recognized boys among the pantheon of Giants, but Turkey has a perpetual Euroleague team in Fenerbahce Ulker and one of Europe’s most rapidly improving domestic leagues.
And sure, any international ad campaign goes further if household names are in the mix, but, um, well, BiE dares say that Joel Anthony is hardly a household name outside of Miami and those bits of Canada not fully absorbed by hockey. If the interest in presenting Anthony is to appeal to an English-speaking population of about 38.5 million (figuring 5.2 million for the greater Miami area and 33.3 million for Canada), wouldn’t the interest in a Chinese player be that much greater, for example?
Finally, what about the future? Several young foreign players are on the cusp of high-profile entrances and probably superstar careers in the big league, if we must accept NBA success as the golden measuring stick for FIBA, and will likely be at the forefront of next year’s NBA fan consciousness more than a Luis Scola or Hedo Turkoglu.
In order to level the playing field a little, BiE might’ve asked FIBA to consider some of the following as supplements to the good kind of posterization. How about…
• Tiago Splitter, Brazil. An All-Euroleague second-teamer (who easily could have been on the top squad) and potential ACB MVP, Splitter figures to be the international player who makes the biggest impact in the NBA in 2010-11 with the San Antonio Spurs, much as it pains this Laker fan to say so.
• Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania. A certain lottery pick that has folks in places like Indiana, Minnesota and New Orleans drooling. Plus, how does one of the world’s basketball-craziest countries get left off the FIBA list? Speaking of which, the organization easily could have gone for…
• … Ramūnas Šiškauskas, perhaps the greatest current all-time Euroleague guard?
• Ricky Rubio, Spain. Now you probably knew this name was coming, but that just indicates what a bizarre exclusion Rubio’s is. A superstar in the making, a Euroleague champion playing in the best domestic league in the world outside the NBA, a marketer’s dream in terms of charisma and most importantly, household name status in most corners of the world thanks to the Timberwolves’ interest. Seriously, what happened here?
• Viktor Khryapa, Russia. Still remembered in the ‘States for his NBA career, Khryapa would allow be a brilliant poster boy for lovers of defense and hails from the largest basketball-crazy nation on the planet. Speaking of Russians, BiE might also be tempted to include…
• …J.R. Holden as well. Anyone who’s followed Euroleague ball at any point in the last, oh, 874 years knows future FIBA Hall of Famer Holden. And as an American who found storybook-level success in taking the 2007 Eurobasket title, Holden is one of the great stories in this tournament both ‘Stateside and in Mother Russia.
• Hamed Haddadi, Iran. Or even…
• Team Iran in its entirety. How does Haddidi’s status as the first-ever Iranian player in the NBA go so unheralded? Just because most of the Iranian squad’s members stay at home to play ball in the domestic league, which few outside Iran get to see, doesn’t mean the back-to-back Asian champs need to get shafted. Alongside Russia, Team Iran is one of BallinEurope’s dark horses to go deep in this thing and here’s to thinking after they give Team USA a run for its money in game four – yes, it’s another outlandish fearless prediction, but remember you heard it here first – FIBA and the rest of the world may yet be paying a lot more attention to basketball down Persia way.