Archive for the ‘ International ’ Category

One of the NBA’s sleeper free agents is becoming more and more of a common name.

Point guard Gal Mekel, fresh off leading little Maccabi Haifa to an upset of Euroleague Final Four regular Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv for the Israeli championship earlier this month, appears to be inching closer to an NBA roster for next season.

Mekel had an eye-opening workout last week with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to sources close to the situation, and will audition Monday for the Dallas Mavericks. Sources told ESPN.com that the Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, are the latest team to express interest in Mekel, who has made major progress since his days at Wichita State from 2006-2008 and increasingly appeals to NBA teams thanks to his size, ability to read the game and, most of all, his pick-and-roll proficiency.

Reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com

Offended by criticism that Dennis Rodman’s basketball diplomacy was a marketing gimmick for their season finale on North Korea, the creators of “Vice,” a new HBO newsmagazine with a penchant for daredevilish themes, said Wednesday that Mr. Rodman had improved the program but was not even their first choice.

At a preview screening of the finale, the creators said they would have preferred to have recruited another former N.B.A. star, Michael Jordan, whose autograph adorns a basketball presented to Kim Jong-il, the father of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-un, by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright during her visit to North Korea in 2000 — when relations were comparatively warmer than they are now.

“Jordan wasn’t interested,” said Shane Smith, the founder and chief executive of the Vice Media Group, the HBO partner that conceived the North Korea trip and helped persuade the authorities there to permit it.

However, Mr. Smith said, Mr. Rodman’s ready acceptance of the idea turned out to be a blessing. “It fit right into our wheelhouse, because it’s absurd,” Mr. Smith said.

Reported by Rick Gladstone of the New York Times

Mike Krzyzewski had decided to remain coach of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team.

Krzyzewski will try to lead the Americans to a third straight gold medal, a person with knowledge of the decision said Wednesday. Originally expected to step down, Krzyzewski will hold a press conference to confirm his return Thursday at Duke, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.

The Hall of Fame coach has led the Americans since 2005, winning gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and the 2010 world basketball championship. His return was first reported by Sports Illustrated.

Reported by the Associated Press

Serbian police say Predrag Danilovic, who played for the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, is seriously injured after being stabbed in a fight.

Police say Danilovic was hurt during a brawl early Saturday in a cafe in a residential part of the capital, Belgrade. Doctors say Danilovic underwent an operation to treat injuries to his abdomen, head and arms.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Nathan Jawai, playing for FC Barcelona, to miss rest of season

FC Barcelona Regal big man Nate Jawai will miss the rest of the season due to his foot injury, the club announced in a press release Sunday morning. Accordingly, Jawai will not dress for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four third place game nor will he be available for the Spanish League playoffs. Jawai was first injured in a Spanish League game against Joventut Badalona just before the Final Four. He tried to play injured in the semifinal against Real Madrid on Saturday, but could only last one minute on the floor.

– Reported by Euroleague.net

Lakers

For years, the Lakers claimed a steady fan base in the sprawling Korean American community, but this season the intensity has been amplified — with games now broadcast in Korean, a first in the NBA.

Time Warner Cable, which invested nearly $3 billion for regional TV rights to Lakers games for the next two decades, hired four Korean Americans as play-by-play announcers and color commentators, adding a fifth person just days ago.

For Park and others, it has brought a new intimacy to the action.

“I’m learning who the players really are, not their names only,” says Park, a grocery store clerk who grew up in Seoul.

Daniel Lee, an attorney who practices in Koreatown, said that while it’s a “big deal” for his parents’ generation to now be able to follow the local basketball team, the broadcasts add a new dimension for him as well.

– Reported by Anh Do of the Los Angeles Times

Nathan Jawai wins Euroleague MVP of the Week

Nate Jawai was unstoppable for Barcelona Regal on Friday night, dominating inside, leading his team to victory with a career night and in the process earning Top 16 Week 13 bwin MVP honors. Jawai was the leading man in Barca’s 69-77 victory over Montepaschi in Siena, Italy. Making just his third start of the season in place of injured February MVP Ante Tomic, Jawai went for 22 points and 12 rebounds in compiling a performance index rating of 34, which led all players in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this week. The Aussie center shot 9 for 10 from the field, made 4 of 5 free throws and also blocked 2 shots in brilliant effort. The second best index for the week came from the hands of Rudy Fernandez, who drained 6 of 8 three-pointers en route to 24 points and a 30 index in an 81-72 loss at CSKA Moscow. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv swingman Devin Smith needed just 18 minutes on the floor to amass a 27 index in a 101-58 rout of Besiktas JK Istanbul. Smith tallied 16 points on 3-of-3 three-point shooting, 9 rebounds and 2 steals. Rounding out the list of the week’s best are Marcus Williams of Unicaja Malaga and Jonas Maciulis of Panathinaikos Athens, each with 26.

– Reported by Euroleague.net

The injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves beat the injury-depleted San Antonio Spurs 107-83 on Tuesday. With Tony Parker out, Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio went off, shooting 9-of-17 for 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.

Here are video highlight of Rubio’s first NBA career triple-double:

Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star known more for his body piercings and tattoos than international diplomacy skills, said on Sunday he returned from North Korea with a message from its leader Kim Jong-un for President Barack Obama - “call me.”

Rodman appeared on ABC’s “This Week” program a few days after an unlikely meeting with Kim in the North Korea capital Pyongyang, where Rodman was working on a documentary about basketball.

With the international community concerned about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and continued belligerence, Kim and Rodman attended a game, where they were seen laughing and talking, and had dinner together.

“He wants Obama to do one thing - call him,” Rodman said. “He said, ‘If you can, Dennis - I don’t want (to) do war. I don’t want to do war.’ He said that to me.”

– Reported by Bill Trott Reuters

Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman hung out Thursday with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on the third day of his improbable journey with VICE to Pyongyang, watching the Harlem Globetrotters with the leader and later dining on sushi and drinking with him at his palace.

“You have a friend for life,” Rodman told Kim before a crowd of thousands at a gymnasium where they sat side by side, chatting as they watched players from North Korea and the U.S. play, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told The Associated Press.

Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the professional Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy and a production crew to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

The unlikely encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Kim since the young North Korean leader took power in December 2011, and takes place against a backdrop of tension between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test just two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a “hostile” policy toward the North.

Kim, a diehard basketball fan, told the former Chicago Bulls star he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea, VICE founder Shane Smith said.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Talk about an odd choice.

Dennis Rodman is in North Korea as an ambassador for sports diplomacy.

The flamboyant, basketball hall-of-famer arrived on Tuesday in Pyongyang with VICE television and three members of the Harlem Globetrotters for a news program on North Korea that will be aired by HBO later this year.

The free-spirited, hard-partying, heavily tatooed, five-time NBA champion sticks out like a sore thumb in the staid, buttoned-down dictatorship.

But Rodman and VICE said he will run a basketball camp for children and play in a game with North Korea’s top basketball players.

“Is sending the Harlem Globetrotters and Dennis Rodman to the DPRK strange? In a word, yes,” VICE founder Shane Smith told the Associated Press.

“But finding common ground on the basketball court is a beautiful thing.”

Reported by Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will not return to coach USA Basketball after the Blue Devils’ season, he said Tuesday.

Talking in a phone interview with ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning”, Krzyzewski said USA Basketball will likely name his successor this summer in preparation for the 2014 world championships in Madrid.

“I’ve loved, loved, loved, and it’s been an honor being with the USA Basketball team,” Krzyzewski said. “And to coach the team and work with [chairman and president Jerry Colangelo] for seven years has been marvelous.

“And we’re in a good spot,” Krzyzewski added. “We need to keep building.”

– Reported by ESPN.com

Catching up with Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko

Caught up with Andrei Kirilenko at this morning’s shootaround in Oklahoma City on a couple notable topics:

The trade deadline passed and Kirilenko is still here – as it everybody else – but that doesn’t mean he’ll be here next season. He has an out-option is his contract this summer and said this morning that he’s keeping all his options open.

He has retired from the Russian national team so he can spend more times in the summer with his family.

As for his future with the Wolves…

That two-year, $20 million contract he signed with the Wolves last summer has a player’s option next season.

Of course, that would mean walking away from $10 million guaranteed in a summer when the NBA is heading into Year 3 of a tightening luxury-tax situation, but…

“I’m going to wait until the offseason, right now there’s no point to make any decision,” he said. “Wait until summer, analyze the season, and see what you want to do next.”

– Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Blog)

jose calderon

New Detroit Pistons guard Jose Calderon isn’t expected to have his work visa cleared in time for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, which brings his availability Monday against the New York Knicks into question, too.

Calderon has watched a shootaround, a game and a practice.  He has taken notes and studied plays.  He can fly on the team plane late Sunday afternoon.

But the Spaniard can’t work with the team until his visa situation is resolved and with Sunday’s game followed by a road game the next night, there is some question whether Calderon could play Monday against the Knicks.

The Pistons traditionally don’t have a game-day shootaround for a back-end game but that’s predicated upon playing the night before.  Sunday’s 1 p.m. tipoff could alter Monday’s plan.  It’s akin to traveling after a practice, the night before a game, like any other single-game road trip.

– Reported by David Mayo of Michigan Live

Ricky Rubio stands up for Pau Gasol

ricky rubio

Ricky Rubio is standing up for his fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, saying he doesn’t think it’s fair that the Los Angeles Lakers are bringing Gasol off the bench this season.

Rubio spoke after practice on Thursday, one day before his Minnesota Timberwolves were scheduled to host the Lakers. Rubio says he speaks to Gasol and the other Spanish players in the NBA regularly throughout the season. He says Gasol has proven himself as a top-flight player in this league over the years.

He quipped that ”if they don’t want him, we are more than welcome to get him.”

– Reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press

Luol Deng

Britain’s basketball superstar Luol Deng has today delivered a hard-hitting letter to the Prime Minister over the slashed funding that is crippling the sport.

The Chicago Bulls star has weighed in on the debate after UK Sport’s funding was cut in the aftermath of the Olympics.

In a letter sent to 10 Downing Street, Deng wrote: ‘We all heard about the “legacy” that London 2012 was going to bring to sport in the UK and I refuse to sit back and let that legacy be completely demolished for basketball.

‘I, along with other people involved in the game, have put too much in and care too greatly to let this happen.

‘The sport of basketball is a pathway, a pathway that teaches so many valuable lessons on and off the court, how are we supposed to motivate these kids to carry along their journey when there’s now nothing at the end? No Team GB, no Olympic dream, no goal.’

– Reported by Mike Dawes of Daily Mail (UK)

Knicks beat Pistons in London game

carmelo anthony

Back in London and back on the basketball court, Carmelo Anthony went right back to his winning ways.

The Knicks star was the main attraction at the O2 Arena on Thursday, five months after he helped the United States win the Olympic gold medal at the same venue.

This time, he led the New York Knicks over the Detroit Pistons, 102-87 in the third regular-season NBA game played in the British capital.

”It felt good out there,” said Anthony, who scored 18 points in the first half as the Knicks (25-13) jumped out to a big early lead. ”I definitely had some flashbacks out there. Running out there on the court, just being in the O2 Arena.” …

Amare Stoudemire added 17 points for the Knicks and J.R. Smith scored 16. Will Bynum led the Pistons with 22 points.

The Pistons were the home team at the O2 Arena, but the crowd certainly favored the Knicks and Anthony…

The crowd at the O2 cheered loudly at times, but there were stretches of silence during some portions of the game. There was even a quiet moment before the game started, though it appeared to be an accident…

Knicks fan and movie director Spike Lee made the trip to London to see his team and sat courtside as usual, wearing a blue suit with an orange tie.

– Reported by Chris Lehourites of the Associated Press

Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv power forward Nik Caner-Medley will be sidelined for one month due to a leg injury, the club announced Thursday. Caner-Medley got injured in Maccabi’s final regular season game against Alba Berlin. Further research confirm that he had a hamstring tear which will keep him sidelined for one month. Caner-Medley has averaged 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10 Turkish Airlines Euroleague games this season.

– Reported by Euroleague.net

Ricky Rubio

Now, in just a few seasons, David Kahn and international scouting coordinator Pete Philo have given meat-and-potatoes Minnesota an international flavor as they’ve turned the Twin Cities into a destination location for top players from basketball hotbeds throughout Europe.

Ricky Rubio, Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved, Nikola Pekovic, JJ Barea. Minnesota has five international players on the roster, tied with Cleveland for second-most in the NBA. San Antonio has eight international players, a league record.

“I think it’s pretty evident to me that there’s a lot of not just good players, but some of the very best players in our game who have come from overseas,” Kahn said. “To me, it’s just a natural extension of scouting. Just as you can’t afford to be negligent about the domestic side, you can’t afford to not be on top of matters internationally.”

The renewed focus is one of the biggest reasons the Timberwolves are competitive again in the powerful Western Conference. The Wolves drafted Rubio in 2009 - even though some mistakenly speculated he wanted to play in a bigger market - and the Spanish point guard turned into one of the most exciting young players in the NBA.

They signed Russian teammates Kirilenko and Shved this offseason, and the two have helped them weather a rough string of injuries early in the season.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Gilbert Arenas signs in Shanghai, China

Gilbert Arenas signs in Shanghai, China

Even if he’s getting away from the United States, Gilbert Arenas will be getting back to a familiar nickname.

In what completes an almost month-long journey, Arenas has finally signed in the Chinese Basketball Association with the Shanghai Sharks. The deal is reported to be a one-year deal worth roughly US $700,000 with a mutual team/player option for a second year.

Already registered on the team’s roster, the three-time NBA All-Star will wear the number 0 for the first time since he was known as “Agent Zero” with the Washington Wizards from 2003-10.

Though the deal was expected to go through since he arrived in Shanghai at the beginning of the month, the Yao Ming-owned Sharks’ decision to delay making it official came down to two major points, a source told NiuBBall.com.

– Reported by Jon Pastuszek of NIUbball.com

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