With the arrival of more and more current NBA players to Europe and the first-ever player signing with a Euroleague team directly out of high school, I asked myself if this is the end of our beloved “Euroball”?
Josh Childress, Brandon Jennings, Earl Boykins, Jannero Pargo, Shawn Kemp and so on… The names of US-born players, that are/were legit NBA guys or top prospects, signing with European teams has never been as impressive as it has this summer. And I’m not even speaking about the European comebackers. The historically low value of the US dollar and the increasing financial possibilities of the top European clubs make these deals possible. What looks at first sight like an improvement may also be the end of the so-called Euroball.
But first of all, talking about Euroball requires an explanation of what Euroball is. Some purists may say that there is no Euroball at all, with everything seen in Europe a copy of something that has previously existed in the United States. I don’t agree with this. Euroball is something like a mix of the famous “Greek battles” of the 1990s, the ex-Yugoslavian or Lithuanian passing game and shooting, the Spanish passion, the Italian style mixed with some Turkish blood and Russian money. Added to all this, you imagine seven footers that shoot three pointers and point guards that are slower than your grandmother but flopping with every contact they get on defense. Somewhere in the middle of all this, you will find Euroball.
So now, a multitude of players that have never seen a game winner by Sasa Djordjevic, who have never been schooled by Dejan Bodiroga, who are still playing defense on Ramunas Siskauskas or have never been rejected by Eurelijus Zukauskas and Demond Greene, want to come over to Europe and show us how to play basketball. I guess that they will struggle, some will struggle more, some will adapt. But they will have some trouble.
What choices will the coaches have? Adapt the game to their new players or force the players to adapt to the European style? If these players adapt to the European style of basketball, the overall level can improve. If not, will the European teams change strategy and come closer to the often used “isolation” play of the NBA in order to fulfill the wishes of their new stars?
It will be a very interesting season in Europe this year in watching how this evolves. The talent level has never been as high; it is now the coaches’ job to put this all together and form excellent team play in a minimum of time, because seats are dangerously hot in the big money clubs and you can see your contract cut faster than a Drew Nicholas shot release.
So with all this new talent, does this mean the end of the days for some of the typical European players that we I like to see? The slow but tricky defenders, the lumberjack style centers that prefer breaking your arm than giving you an easy layup, the mullet hairstyled forwards sending kisses to the audience after the big three from the corner and the smoking-beer drinking BallinEurope guy-like veterans that only score with their experience; do we still need them?
I say yes, because even with the addition of all these athletic, young, superbly talented players from the United States, Euroleague games will still be decided by a pushy tip-in by Jonas Maciulis, an incredibly lucky bank shot from Gianluca Basile or a two-handed no-jump blocked shot by Slavko Vranes. And I prefer this by far to an open dunk by Brandon Jennings on the break.