True passion comes to the fore in Europe
Know what I miss a bit?
The incessant harping about the Raptors being “too European.”
At least back in those good old days there were even more reasons to think about and talk about international basketball and now that Eurobasket 2013 is starting its second round, it would have been more fun if there were more players to track, wouldn’t it?
Yes, there is Jonas Valanciunas – he’s leading Lithuania in rebounding and blocked shots and playing pretty well according to one of the spies I have over there – but after that, there seems to be a distinct lack of interest.
Maybe it’s because so many were so focused on Canada at the FIBA Americas tournament and there’s some international basketball hangover or something and it’s really too bad.
Eurobasket is, by far, the best tournament of the year, and now that they’ve eliminated a handful of wannabes and unworthies, it’s going to become “the” event of the summer.
Of all the things out there that I’ve yet to cover, this is the tournament that I’d want to see more than any other; it is so full of passion and intensity and good basketball it’s hard to explain.
Having seen a handful of world championships and six Olympic tournaments, I can safely say there is nothing that gets close to what this tournament is and the emotion it engenders in fans across the continent.
The world championships – or World Cup as it will be known starting next summer – are full of too many teams that are there simply because of geography; it creates a disparity in talent that renders most of the start of the tournament barely worth it.
The Olympics, on the other hand, are too small. Just 12 teams – again a lineup too filled by geographical reasons – and the tournaments can get lost in the bigger spectacle that is the Games.
The Euros? It was too big to start but now it’s not, they have whittled the field down to just a dozen from 24 (which is at least six, maybe eight too many to start) and with only six of the remaining teams guaranteed spots in next year’s World Cup (seven if Spain, the host, finishes in the top six) the stakes are huge.
I’ve always tried to figure out a comparison that North Americans could understand when it comes to what basketball means in so many of those countries.
I guess the easiest is to suggest the game there is like hockey is here but the truth is, there is a deeper global field in basketball than there is in hockey; it is “the” game in so many countries it’s simply more important, I believe.
It’s too bad we don’t get to experience that here and while I haven’t checked too closely on how this can be done, I hope there’s a way to see some of these games live.
If there is, you should.
It’s a wild, emotional, intense time.
And a lot of fun; even if there aren’t a lot of Raptor rooting interests left.
This is a day of great loss and great sorrow, a day where so many feel lost family and friends.
It cannot be easy, it should not be easy but at some point today, please take a minute and think of the good times, the fun, the smiles and know that absent loved ones and friends are somewhere looking over the ones they left and are entirely proud of what they’ve become.
This is hopefully soothing in some way.
And, yes, I should have absolutely included Jose Calderon on that list from yesterday about the all-time favourites and I guess it went without saying.
When you talk about good guys and a dedication to the franchise and the city and, yes, the country, he is perhaps second to none.
That was a gaffe of biblical proportions but those Irregulars who know me, know what’s up.
The Mighty Navy Tiger coaching staff is gathering to beat up some innocent blades of grass in our annual foray to our friend Aaron’s company golfing tournament all day so we’ll get back to comments, if there are many, sometime this evening.
In the meantime, and since I will have at least one afternoon in Regina to find a stool and do some work, send some mail, would you?
Could use the interaction and conversation.
Thanks; it’s email@example.com.
Speaking of the Raptors, word from Dwane earlier this week is that all the young kids are in town and working out with less than three weeks to go before the start of training camp.
No real word on who looks good, who looks bad or who’s in top shape but I have heard that Dwight Buycks has been impressive.
And while that’s all well and good, and it’s good to hear that the workouts are going along well, the real proof won’t be seen for at least a month when they start playing games against other teams, even pretend pre-season games.
Anything going on now is simply groundwork, background if you will; how players perform when, as they say, the popcorn’s popping, is the only true indicator.
This is nice but it’s less important than some think.
Love that the Jays are going to go to Montreal for a couple of exhibition games next spring, am sure they’ll be a big hit in a city that still has a huge baseball culture.
It struck me last weekend when I was there that there was still a lot of Expos stuff around – it was all over one store by my hotel and I’m kicking myself for not getting a cheap, cheesy souvenir or two – and there is huge support for the game to this day.
But while it’s nice that there’ll be exhibition games and it’s wonderful to dream about a return of the major leagues to that city, I don’t see how a team can go back there unless there’s a new stadium and I don’t think that’s in the cards.
Too bad. Great city, bet the spring games will be fun.