An Unnecessarily Exhaustive Guide To The Euroleague Final Eight
March 24th, 2011

In terms of the calibre of non-international competitive basketball, the Euroleague is second in the world only to the NBA. That is to say, of all the leagues in the world not to excessively overuse snippets of Busta Rhymes songs, or turn nightly to the tortured genius of Kiss Cam, the Euroleague is the best. If you love basketball, you’ll love watching the Euroleague. If you love basketball and yet have never watched the Euroleague, you haven’t tried hard enough. The first two group stages have been complete, and now the eight strongest teams enter a playoff-style format or head-to-head series. Ergo, continuing a series of posts that take fleeting glances at every worthwhile current player in the world today – the loose theme of which is ‘Why spend all that time watching it all just to never write about any of it?’ – there follows a look at the compelling protagonists of the final eight teams in this Euroleague season. Teams list in no order other than alphabetical. Juan Carlos’s time in Memphis wasn’t all this happy. Barcelona As ever, Barcelona are absolutely stacked. They have three options at every position, populated almost exclusively with players who will be, who were, who could be, or who could have been, NBA players. To put that into some context, they have seven former NBA draft picks on the team, and two more players who played in it as undrafted free agents. That list doesn’t even include Jaka Lakovic, a high quality European guard, or Joe Ingles, a man who almost got drafted as recently as 18 months ago. There’s just reams of talent at every position, and the talent assault is relentless. The starting backcourt consistently consists of Ricky Rubio and Juan Carlos Navarro. Navarro has lost nothing; his assault of […]

Posted by at 8:31 AM

Europe for Americans
June 15th, 2010

More than one person has asked me in the past for a definition of how basketball works in Europe. Those persons are always American. They see words like “domestic competition,” “Euroleague” and “Cup,” and they panic. All of those are concepts alien to the NBA, an incestuous league that only plays with itself, and they are not understood by the majority of American NBA fans. (Or, if not the majority, at least some.) So I’ll try to explain. All countries in Europe have their own domestic leagues. There’s the strong ones (Turkey, Spain, and a much weakened Italy), the top-heavy ones (Greece, Russia, etc), the ones slightly below that (Germany, France, etc), all the way down to the insignificantly terrible leagues (such as those in Moldova, Azerbaijan and Britain). Those leagues are by and large just like the NBA; over the course of several months, everybody plays everybody, with regular seasons and playoff structures. And at the end of it all, the best team wins. All these leagues are different in their own way; the French league is notorious for bad defense, and the Greek league is more physical than many of the others. (It’s also infamous for the salary payments being hideously inconsistent, something not helped by the current general Greek economic turmoil. For example, Maroussi – Greece’s third best team – have recently agreed to a two year repayment structure for their players who did not get paid last year, and may have to merge with a team from Crete just to stay solvent. It happens all across Europe at various times, but it happens a lot more in Greece.) However, they play fundamentally the same format. I have never seen a basketball league that does not have playoffs. For the most part, European teams are not built […]

Posted by at 1:11 PM