Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv v Real Madrid - Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four Semi Final

So you want to play in Europe during the lockout…


There’s a lot of players throwing out the, “If there’s a lockout I’ll go play in Europe” card. Like it’s some kind of trump card.

And if you’re Kevin Durant or Deron Williams or Pau Gasol and you go play for a team like Barcelona, life will be pretty darn good.

But that is not the norm of European basketball. A lot of those leagues — and even some teams in the top leagues — are more like playing in the minor leagues. With experiences NBA players would find shocking. Mark Deeks lays it out at the New York Times.

The difference in salary payments lies not only their magnitude, but their synergy. There are some European leagues where it is more common to be paid late than to be paid on time; in extreme cases, players are lured to the team with false promises, and then not paid at all. Financial problems are permeating even the continent’s strongest leagues, and regulations brought in to try to reverse this trend are often ignored. As amazing as it seems that a sports team would not prioritize paying its players, it happens. A lot.

An equally apparent difference is in the crowd support. While high-level European games can at times be remarkably badly attended affairs, those who do attend are hardened, passionate and obsessively loyal. Poor performances are seen as personal insults and are met with the kind of retribution that’s easy to get away with when seated a considerable distance from the target at an elevated position, readily armed with rudimentary projectiles….

If you can’t run a pick-and-roll, you won’t play. If you’re only effective in isolation sets, you won’t get used. You will practice almost every day, and you will practice far more than you play. You won’t average 20 points, you won’t get paid as much, and the front office will toy with you and your agent as to whether they even want you on the team. Imports are a necessity, but also a luxury. They are treated differently from the domestic players because they can always be replaced.

And that’s just the on the court part. Off the court the creature comforts that make the NBA lifestyle envious are gone. You do not get to run the building with your entourage. Nobody speaks the language and nobody is bending over backwards to help you. The culture shock will be worse than the adjustments in the game.

Go read the whole piece. Especially if you’re one of those NBA players who think they can just drop into a European league and it will be all good.

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

Thabo Sefolosha
Leave a comment

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.”

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

Byron Scott
1 Comment

The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.