Things I did not know before today: Drew Gooden is half Finnish. As in he has citizenship in Finland.
His father, a former professional basketball player, met his mother while playing in Finland, something he told ESPN’s Jemele Hill a few years back (hat tip to Eye on Basketball).
By the way, Finland is playing in the FIBA World Cup coming up, and it’s not exactly a country deep in high level basketball talent. So…
That is Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post confirming something ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla mentioned during the USA Basketball blue and white scrimmage on Friday night.
Gooden was waived by the Bucks after the 2013 season and was without a team last season until the Wizards gave him a couple 10-day contracts. He found a home playing with the bench group of the Wizards — his shooting helped space the floor as Andre Miller was dishing the rock — as they started to make their run last season before Nene’s return. Gooden’s game will blend well enough in international ball… plus it’s Finland. It’s not like they have a ton of better guys hanging around.
Finland, the world’s 39th ranked team, made the World Cup as one of FIBA’s “wild card” selections along with Brazil (ranked 10th), Greece (fifth) and Turkey (seventh). Finland was taken in front of China, Russia (2012 Olympic bronze medalists) and Germany (among others) for a wild card spot.
How did such a low seed vault over all those other teams to get a coveted spot? Well, they did have four wins at EuroBasket. But really it’s that they travel well and had the backing of Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) — basically, they were going to make FIBA money at the venue.
Nice to know that FIBA has some FIFA in them. Can we expect the next basketball World Cup in Qatar?
Some countries, like the United States, don’t really care about the World Cup. The 2019 FIBA World Cup in China was perhaps evidence of that, with Team USA not even bothering to medal.
For countries like France and players like Rudy Gobert, the World Cup is a chance to show that their nation is one that is coming forth as a place to be reckoned with when it comes to basketball development.
France recently took home third place in the 2019 Cup, and for that the Utah Jazz center was grateful. Speaking to reporters after their win over Australia, Gobert said that grabbing the bronze “means everything” to him and to France.
That’s some pretty moving stuff from a guy in Gobert who we know is someone who wears his emotions on his sleeve.
Everyone has an opinion about who is the greatest player of all time between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Most folks still seem to pick Jordan, although it’s been hard to argue with the type of player that James is in a vacuum outside of measurements like championship rings.
In any case, we now have one more person who has tossed their opinion into the ring of public consciousness. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has now said that he believes that LeBron is the GOAT thanks to his public service.
“I think LeBron has been willing to do what a lot of athletes are not and get involved in the political process, put money into education, and I respect that.”
James has certainly done a lot politically, socially, and as an activist. He’s supported things like entire schools, and he’s been on the bleeding edge of NBA activism against things like police brutality.
Jordan has also done his part, including a recent pledge for $1 million in funds to aid Bahamanian hurricane relief. Folks like to bag on MJ for his purported “Republicans buy sneakers, too” comment, but it’s unclear whether he actually ever said or felt that.
In either case, it appears that we know who Sanders thinks is the GOAT. Next someone should ask Elizabeth Warren if she would have taken Kobe or Shaq in 2004.
As any good golfer can tell you, the key to getting a pure ball flight is figuring out the idea of compression. Instead of scooping the ball off the ground, the idea is to hit the ball first and use the ground to compress the dimpled object between the earth and the clubface.
And while New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson probably isn’t concentrating on his golf game heading into his first NBA season, it looks like the idea of compression isn’t lost on him.
As the Pelicans held a golf event this week, Williamson was filmed snapping the head off of an iron while taking a shot off the tee box.
It’s hard to tell from this angle, but it looks like Williamson has a pretty solid swing. I’m extremely jealous of the amount of lag he has at the return parallel position on the downswing.
Someone get this guy a stiffer shaft or something. I can only imagine the kind of havoc Williamson is going to inflict on NBA rims this year if this is how the man golfs.
There has been some doubt that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be able to fit together with the Houston Rockets this season. Both players have matured quite a bit since their time together in Oklahoma City with the Thunder, and now there are real questions about Westbrook’s ability to fit next to just about anyone.
Like Westbrook, Harden is a ball-dominant guard, and we still don’t know the long-term plan for Coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston has real championship hopes, but they could also look much different in a year or two.
Still, Harden and Westbrook have known each other since they were 10 years old. They grew up together in Los Angeles, and are at least very good friends. To that end, Harden says that he believes they will be able to figure it out even if the first year together has bumps along the way.
It’s like, yo, we’ll figure it out. Everything isn’t necessarily going to be smooth at first, there are going to be ups and downs, and that’s part of an 82-game season. Hopefully by the end of the season, we’ve caught a rhythm and everybody is on the same page going into the playoffs. That’s all you can ask for.
That’s a pretty reasonable outlook to have at this juncture. The NBA is constantly changing, and it’s possible that these two guys could have such a personal connection that their on-court conflicts end up being negligible.
It’s another new era in Houston as they try to capitalize on the Golden State Warriors’ injury issues.