BiE likes to write up this particular roundup at year’s end for a couple of reasons: Firstly as a thank you to the readers who check out BallinEurope however frequently; like they say in sports, this website wouldn’t exist without the audience.
Secondly, a look back at which BallinEurope stories drew the most attention provides a nice microcosm of what was most of the minds of European basketball. Yes, national heroes playing in the NBA still reign supreme, but international tournaments happily still get ample due here on The Continent.
So without further ado, here are the stories that you, the readers, decided were the true headline-grabbers in 2012.
1. Splitter opines Adelman key to Rubio’s success; Ginobili says “impressive”
When Ricky Rubio finally eked his way into the Timberwolves’ starting lineup, the results were immediate and positive. Of course, those of us who’ve been following The Human YouTube Highlight Clip since his days as the youngest-ever player for Barcelona could sit back and say “I told you so” – like Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili did.
2. Tanjevic: “NBA Coaches don’t understand,” “Kanter has forgotten how to play”
With some impatience and vitriol did Team Turkey technical coordinator Boris Tanjevic address the media about certain holes in the roster in advance of Eurobasket 2013 qualifiers.
Miffed at Enes Kanter’s deferral to play for Turkey – presumably to some degree at the behest of his Utah Jazz – Tanjevic sounded off (in part, mind you) with “In the NBA, there are just three or four coaches who have been there for 100 years, making billions and winning trophies. Others are weak. Including [Utah Jazz head coach] Tyrone Corbin…
“I should have told [Corbin] that I was going him to do a great service by teaching one of his basketball players and he could have earned money on it. But I don’t want to talk to guys who do not know what they are doing. Kanter has forgotten how to play basketball. He will never be a center but he always starts with his back to the basket. As a power forward, this would be devastating. He’s 2.10 meters tall and [could be] the best shooter on the Turkish team, backcourt included. But in the NBA, he never takes a shot.”
Judgment calls aside, Tanjevic brings up a good point with regard to national team play of young NBAers under FIBA’s new international tournament format. With qualifying games taking place amid professional league seasons, the up-and-comers will be denied sufficient time to absorb any training a coach might provide; indeed, development of any non-veteran player on nearly any national team will certainly prove quite a challenge…
3. Who’s the greatest, Lebron or Kobe?
Despite its near absolute irrelevance to European basketball, this neat Italian-language graphic really drives home a salient point about the world’s two most visible stars internationally.
4. Is Jonas Valanciunas the problem for Team Lithuania?
Valanciunas first rose to prominence in Eurobasket 2011 and Toronto Raptors fans were justifiably excited at the prospective arrival of Lithuania’s most interesting prospect in years – But he looked oddly out of sorts in the early going of the Olympic Qualifying Round, quickly racking up unnecessary personal fouls whenever on court; the BallinEurope assessment: Valanciunas was bad for this Team Lithuania’s flow.
5. Danilo Gallinari: Steve Kerr “hasn’t played basketball for too long”
If 2011-12 was the season in which David “El Jefe” Stern finally decided to press forth his “enough with the flopping already” argument, Gallinari’s play in game four of the Denver Nuggets-Los Angeles Lakers playoff series was used as Exhibit A.
In response to the non-call on what appeared to be a Pau Gasol foul, commentator Steve Kerr remarked somewhat embarrassingly that “Gallinari is a European player [and] there’s a history of flopping with the Euros,” The Rooster crowed to Italian media that “I guess Kerr hasn’t played basketball for too long” and that “The referees] would certainly have called that type of pick on our big guys. It was a crystal clear foul but, as everybody knows, they call fewer fouls for you when you play against the Lakers.”
6. Resurrected NBA Europe Live Tour brings Celtics, Mavericks to four countries in October
This was really just an announcement of the return of the tour after cancellation due to NBA player lockout in ’11, but makes for an excellent indicator of how much Continental fans missed these fun exhibition matches. Given the preseason hype and subsequent disappointment of the teams, perhaps a Fenerbahçe Ülker-Los Angeles Lakers game would have been most appropriate in hindsight…
7. Why Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow must win the Euroleague
Doesn’t it seem like forever ago that CSKA Moscow was the prohibitive favorite to take the Euroleague title – or at least that their road would go through FC Barcelona? Wait a minute, that’s this season. You know, except without Kirilenko…
8. Oh Ricky Rubio, you’ve done it again: Double-double highlight-clip passing against Wiz
The title pretty much says it all; here’s La Pistola laying a 13/14 game on hapless Washington. (Just one question: Whatever happened to that sweet-looking Rubio-to-Williams connection?)
9. Flashback: Pau Gasol of FC Barcelona
A proverbial blast from the past, this compilation of clips from the 2000 ACB Finals provided a scintillating of the greatest burgeoning talent to be exported from Spain last decade.
10. Beached Dragon: Goran Dragic’s sometimes insane summer workout
The pride of Slovenia invested his summer wisely while his national team got the year off thanks to an automatic Eurobasket 2013 bid. Check out these videos, essentially required viewing for European basketballers seeking to play in the ‘States with their emphasis on upper-body strength and stamina. And if you can do the “Insane 5-Minute Plank Challenge,” well, you’re a better man than BiE…