Jagshemash, American Basketball Players
Hello, American basketball players, my name is Theo Papaloukas. I am currently the best all-around - and highest-paid - player playing professionally in Europe. I was the MVP of the European Championships in 2005 for Greece, and the MVP of the Euroleague Final Four in 2006 for my club team, CSKA Moscow.
After I was the maestro of the high pick-and-roll which embarrassed Team USA at the World Championships, I thought you knew me. But, seeing how I did EXACTLY THE SAME THING in directing CSKA Moscow's embarrassment of the Clippers on Saturday, I thought I should offer this as an introduction.
Let me give you a couple of basic hints about playing me. First, I can't shoot. I have an awkward push shot that makes Shawn Marion's form look like Ray Allen's by comparison. What's more: I never look to shoot. I am always looking to penetrate - I often look to drive into the lane and kick out to shooters, and I can finish at the rim pretty well with long arms at 6-7.
Most of all, I run the pick-and-roll like a madman. I'm an exceedingly smart player, but you make it so much easier for me when you try to pressure me 20+ ft away from the basket. And WHY YOU DON'T GO UNDER THE SCREEN AGAINST ME EVERY TIME, I'll never understand. You would think that a basic level of observation from a scout, coach or player would have figured this out. But I thank you nonetheless.
Seriously, it will be interesting if a guy who has coached somewhat recently in Europe (D'Antoni) will have a better feel for how to play Papaloukas if they meet on Wednesday. Listen, I love the guy's game, but the clueless way that USA and the Clips have tried to defend him has been insane.
By the way, the Europe Live games are down to a four-team tourney in Cologne.
On Tuesday, CSKA Moscow plays Maccabi Tel Aviv in a rematch of last year's Euroleague final, and then the Suns play the Sixers.
On Wednesday, the winners play (losers do, too). Should be CSKA and Phoenix, and it'll be on at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
[Note: Philly ended up beating the Suns on Tuesday, so they will face CSKA today. In development that is simultaneously unsurprising and amazing, CSKA is just a 1-point underdog today - and I think they'll win the ballgame.]
Here's a nice Papaloukas profile from Euroleague.net
We here at The Painted Area try not to say we told you so, but in this instance, well, we told you so. Check out this excerpt from our NBA Europe Live preview:
- "If I had to target potential upsets, I would suggest the Sixers-Barcelona game, in part b/c Philly sucks, in part because I think they might be caught off-guard in the opener. On paper, the line of FCB +9 looks intriguing, but Barca is just struggling too much right now.
And I’d also look at the Clippers-CSKA game – I think the Clips might be complacent after crushing Khimki the night before, and might not fully realize how good CSKA is until the game gets going. Interesting matchup between former Duke teammates Langdon and Elton Brand in that one.
For entertainment purposes only, I think that Spurs -10 vs. Maccabi looks quite promising. I think Maccabi is being rated on past success."
Thank you very much. We hope you invested your money wisely, and we'll also point out that Turkish team Efes Pilsen might not be a bad play this week at Denver on Tue. at +20, and at Golden State on Thu. at +17. Efes has a good squad and they've already played a few games, while it'll be the opener for both NBA teams. Plus, Jay Aych heard an interview with Carmelo where he said something to the effect of "We're playing a team from Turkey and I know absolutely nothing about them." That's a big red flag that we might not be seeing a blowout.
With so much heated talk about American basketball vs. European basketball going around, I thought that John Hollinger had a great throwaway observation from the Spurs' first game:
- Guess who started more Americans?
Yup, it was the French team. Same thing in the Spurs-Maccabi game - S.A. started one American (Bowen, OK two if you count the Big Virgin Islander) and Maccabi started two as well.
The point is this: Europeans on teams like the Kings, Suns, Mavs and Spurs in recent years have increasingly contributed not only to winning but also to improving the quality of team play in the NBA. No doubt, European basketball is on the rise.
But, on the flip side, it is still vital to get strong contributions from American players - as CSKA has with Langdon, Vanterpool and Holden, and Maccabi has with Anthony Parker and Maceo Baston - if you are going to be a Euroleague champion.
Every year, there are - by a wide margin - more players from the U.S. in Euroleague than from any other country.
The whole argument of one versus the other is slightly silly to me, when they're both so intertwined. The NBA will continue to draw the best players, largely because there's more money (which ain't gonna change anytime soon), and the Euroleague will continue to be formidable. And they're both fun to watch. Just enjoy.
That said, I thought True Hoop had a very good point here:
- It's an amazing thing that the Euroleague and the NBA are collaborating on this project. They are competing for players. The NBA might be interested in stealing some of the best Euroleague teams in years to come. (Stern had a meeting about NBA teams in Europe during this same trip.) Both organizations are on a course to compete for the hearts, minds, and Euros of European basketball fans. But they pulled this off, which is a great credit to David Stern and Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu. They held a joint press conference on October 5.
Guess what, Henry, Mark Cuban read the same transcript and he agrees with you.
It's hard to agree with Cubes re: his strong feelings regarding NBA/international basketball issues because he comes off as xenophobic at times - and simply because I'm a fan of international competitions like these - but it's hard not to agree with his arguments from a business perspective.
Boiling it down (as much as it's possible with Cubes's rambles), he asks why the NBA would come over and help build the Euroleague brand, thus putting more money in the Euro coffers for them to use to compete for player signings:
- Why not let the NBA spend tons of money around the world to develop the game of basketball. For the Euroleague its simply a marketing subsidy. Why not let the NBA pay their own way to come over and use their biggest stars to promote and brand Euroleague teams, league and players to his fans and customers. Why not let them play Euroleague teams. Euroleague can make some money from the games and if the Euroleague teams win, start defining to not just non American players how good the league is, but to American players as well. If players anywhere in the world, including the USA start understanding that Euroball is as good, and in the eyes of some purists, better basketball than the NBA, why wouldnt American players choose playing Euroleague instead of the NBA ? Why wouldnt non American players choose to stay here rather than go to the NBA ?...
Right now the edge is to the NBA because of the money. Which means the NBA has risk on multiple sides. If we continue to subsidize international basketball and they grow economically, they may be able to financially support salaries comparable to ours. If we continue to help Euroleague grow their brand., Euroleague could easily supercede the NBA (if they havent already) as the dominant league outside the USA and money that the NBA hopes will be available for NBA rights will go to Euroleague . Finally, if the NBA stumbles in the USA financially at all, our ability to pay higher salaries might decline or disappear, propelling the Euroleague to a dominant position.
Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu shot back, saying:
- "It is curious that the NBA in Europe is being criticized for trying to 'invade' Europe, now, at the same time, we are being accused of trying to do the same thing. Maybe the truth lies in between and maybe we are doing this the right way.
If you don't see the evolution of basketball in the medium or long-term then you cannot understand this deal we have with the NBA. For us it is a question of promoting the sport in Europe, but also outside Europe because this tournament has created terrific interest all around the world.
For [Cuban], it is exactly the same. Today, because of [David Stern's] policy of globalization, many NBA teams are enjoying European players and I think that Dallas are enjoying one of the best. Maybe he should have thought about it more before attacking us."
And then points out the ultimate reality of the situation:
- "We are not working to be a second division competition, nobody is interested in that. But when you reflect on the gap we have with the NBA, we have our strongest teams with a budget of 22-25 million Euros ($27 million-$31.5 million) competing with NBA teams with $100-125 million. We can't compete with this."
On Jordi's behalf, he seemed most concerned about European players who get drafted too young and end up wallowing in the NBA when they could be developing in the Euroleague, rather than worrying about competing for the Gasols and Nowitzkis and Parkers of the world.