Could Barcelona hang in the NBA?


Barcelona, the defending champions of EuroLeague, just knocked off the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers Thursday.

Europe’s best beat the NBA’s best 92-88. They did it on a night the Lakers starters got some real run — Lamar Odom played 41 minutes, Pau Gasol 36 and Kobe Bryant 25. Barcelona did it by holding the Lakers to 34 percent shooting and LA was 0-for-14 from beyond the arc.

Of course, this is just the second preseason game for the Lakers, while Barcelona has already started its league season. The Lakers rested Kobe and others for key stretches. This was not the Lakers the Celtics faced last June. There are a lot of reasons — or excuses, if you prefer — that the Lakers lost.

But it raises the question: Could Barcelona hang in the NBA?

Phil Jackson isn’t sold, as quoted at NBA.com.

“They played really well, but they’re not up to the competition that we face night in and night out,” Jackson said. “But that’s not taking anything away from them. The physicality of our game, the size of our players, those are things that night in and night out are very difficult to contest.”

Kobe on the other hand thinks Barcelona could hang — and as you read this you can almost hear Kobe rolling his eyes.

“I don’t know why he says these things sometimes,” Bryant said. “”I think they execute extremely well, they know each other extremely well, they move the ball extremely well and that’s what you’re looking for. In the NBA, teams that do that are few and far in between, teams that play together as a unit. You see a lot of isolation game; you see a lot of guys going one-on-one. They do a great job moving the ball, they do a great job helping each other defensively, so I disagree, but, what do I know?”

Barcelona plays with motion that maybe only Utah matches in the NBA. And they have some talented guys — Juan Carlos Navarro looked pretty good, much better than the heralded Ricky Rubio who was 0-5 from the field and had just three assists in 18 minutes.

But they feel like a collection of good NBA role players. Over the course of the season you need your stars to win games in the NBA. Come the playoffs those guys who can lift their game matter more.

Barcelona would not embarrass itself in the NBA, but it would be a team fighting for the eighth seed at best. So it can hang, to answer our headline question. But if there were a true World Championships series, the NBA would win. Handily.

Kevin Love names NBA players he thinks could play in NFL

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The majority of guys in the NBA are not built for the NFL. Blake Griffin the tight end makes a huge target for a free safety to line up. Kevin Durant is a little thin. Carmelo Anthony? Come on now.

But there are a few guys who might be able to, and on his show Dan Patrick asks Kevin Love about it today (see the video above). Then DP tries to take the obvious call of LeBron James off the table.

Nate Robinson as a DB? He’s athletic enough but at his height he would be a target for tall receivers. I like Dan Patrick’s suggestion of Russell Westbrook the free safety — he is certainly athletic enough.

Love also picked himself as a QB. Um, no. I’m not sure his outlet passing skills translate.

Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on not guilty verdict: “Justice was served”

Thabo Sefolosha
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Friday morning, a New York jury found Atlanta Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha not guilty of misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. The charges stemmed from the night in the final weeks of last season when Sefolosha and then teammate Pero Antic went to a New York club after arriving in town, and while there Pacers’ player Chris Copeland was stabbed outside the club. In his clash with police, Sefolosha suffered a broken leg that required surgery and kept him out of the playoffs.

The New York prosecutor tried to make this go away with a plea deal of just day of community service and six months probation. But Sefolosha had the means and mind to fight the charges, got his day in court and won. This is what he said in a statement after the verdict, released by the Atlanta Hawks.

“This morning’s verdict ended a long and emotional period for me.  Justice was served and for that I am eternally grateful to the judge and jury for their quick and deliberate decision….

“It’s troubling to me that with so much evidence in my support that this case would even be brought to trial and that I had to defend myself so hard to get justice. It pains me to think about all of the innocent people who aren’t fortunate enough to have the resources, visibility and access to quality legal counsel that I have had.

“It was important to me as a man, a father to two young girls and as a role model, to stand up for what I believe in and have my name cleared of any wrongdoing.  Today’s verdict will not make up for the pain and trauma my family and I have suffered over the past six months or bring back the opportunity to have played in the Eastern Conference Finals and have a shot at an NBA title, but it does bring me some peace and closes a painful chapter in my life.

“Now I look forward to returning to the team and focusing solely on my rehabilitation for the upcoming season so that I can get back to playing the game I cherish so much.”

While Sefolosha says he is focusing “solely” on his rehab, the win in the criminal case would bode well for a potential civil case if he wanted to sue regarding his treatment and the broken leg.

Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer — who testified at the trial and was amused by parts of it — released this statement:

“Thabo is a man of great character and we are proud that he took a principled approach to proving his innocence. We are extremely happy for him and his family, and we are very pleased with today’s verdict in his favor.”