The NBA Live Europe tour begins tonight when the New York Knicks visit AJ Milano; tomorrow sees the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in London and Maccabi Haifa visiting the New Jersey Nets. All in all, the exchange program between the two big leagues will see nine games played in four countries, with the headline game certainly the informal world championship pitting Euroleague titlists FC Barcelona against the Lakers on Thursday.
BallinEurope collected a few stories, links, YouTubes and such for your perusal this Sunday.
• Best quote of the week – and why this one hasn’t started any sort of media brushfire back in the ‘States is beyond BiE, unless they just haven’t heard yet – was put in by Kobe Bryant in London. Talk Basket’s correspondent to an event there reports that, when asked who’d win in a one-on-one game between LeBron James and himself, Bryant stated:
“I’d win. That’s what I do. One-on-one is. that’s easy for me, you know. Playing one-on-one is how I grew up playing, it’s my thing. LeBron is more like a Magic Johnson – he’s a great passer and plays an all-around game. At [my core], I’m a one-on-one player. I’d do that in my sleep.”
• Kobe’s teammate Ron Artest also got into the metaphorical speaker’s corner of the Lakers’ British vacation as well, proclaiming that limiting American players on European rosters is unfair: “There are only like two [Americans] to a team while Europeans can come to America [and play in the NBA] like the whole San Antonio Spurs team – a whole American team can be full of Europeans. Europe has to be a little more fair to the American players.
“You see a lot of foreign players come over to America to play in the NBA. It’s not fair that a lot of American players can’t come to China or can’t come to Europe to play with as many players as they want, so there’s no balance … They should just make it more even.”
Oh yes, the Spurs. With European players from Argentina, Brazil and the Virgin Islands. And an American is complaining about unfair multinational labor practices? Dude, come on.
• A tweak to the above ESPN article are necessary, as well, which explains that “Some countries such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria have no limits on the number of non-European players allowed on each team, but the major leagues in Spain and Greece allow a maximum of two non-Europeans per squad. In the United Kingdom, the maximum is three.”
In actuality, German Bundesliga teams are required to have a minimum of five German players on the active roster. From 2013-14, six players per roster will have to be German citizens.
• BiE, for one, is sad that Pini Gershon isn’t coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv overseas this year – when will we ever see a rabbi negotiate with referees on court again?
• Here’s a YouTube from last year’s Lakers-Barcelona match in the ‘States:
• While Pau Gasol is a tad stressed out about playing in his homeland, Danilo Gallinari is certain to make the fellow proud to be Knicks in Milan. And his autobiography “From Zero to 8” (“Da Zero A Otto”) is out – but only in Italian.
Meanwhile, Mike D’Antoni is hosting a 120-person dinner party, inviting many Milano players and staff D’Antoni worked with during his coaching stint in the city. And the Knicks “brought a massive entourage, nearly 100 people, including the Knicks City Dancers. Some staffers brought their spouses.” Geez, think they’ll have time for, you know, some games?
• Gallinari did some nice PR work yesterday, wowing thousands on Piazza Duomo with the help of the Knicks cheerleaders and Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Video can be seen here, just in case you were ever suffering under the delusion that Cesar’s got game…
• And the Rubio story. A backhanded comment which may have begun in New York’s Newsday newspaper or CBS Sports has ballooned out of proportion a bit. For what it’s worth, the Newsday blurb runs thusly:
“Reports out of Minnesota say Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is trying to get Ricky Rubio’s parents to meet him in Paris, where the Wolves play the Knicks on Wednesday, for dinner so they can discuss their son’s plans for the NBA. Apparently, The Rubios aren’t interested in having dinner with Taylor and the T-Wolves…”
Throwing a little cold water on things is this rant over at Bleacher Report’s Minnesota Timberwolves page. Remember, folks, Rubio said he was interested in investing time in his own development as a player.
(Still, one can’t help imagining Rubio’s going to do his best to make Timberwolves’ execs salivate over the excess of raw talent here. Once again: Interesting time to be a T-wolves fan…)