Hit by a Pitch

Archive for the ‘Lithuanians’ Category

Lithuanians and Latvians in the Olympics

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Here are a few quick notes about how a few Lithuanians and Latvians (sometimes referred to as “My People” [upper case, which differentiates them from "my people," which refers to White Sox fans]) are doing in the Olympics (behind the cut so as not to spoil anything for people who are even more behind the times than I am):

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Written by Tracy

August 10th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Lithuanians in the NBA: Recent History

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As mentioned in my Lithuanian NBA players post, there currently are three Lithuanians in the NBA: Kleiza, Ilgauskas, and Songaila. Here are some Lithuanian players who were recently with the NBA:

-Martynas Andriuškevičius suffered a severe head injury after being attacked by a Dakota Wizards (NBA D-League) teammate in December 2006. He was with the Bulls until sometime in 2007, and now plays for Alicante Costa Blanca in Spain.

Here’s the Chicago Sun Times story about the attack (reproduced here because the original is not available from the Sun Times‘ website):

Storey punch leads to serious injury
By Roman Modrwoski
For Chicago Sun Times
Martynas Andriuskevicius, whom the Bulls recently assigned to the National Basketball Development League’s Dakota Wizards, is lucky to be alive today after being punched by Awvee Storey, a Proviso West product and Wizards teammate.
The altercation took place during practice Thursday. The 7-2, 240-pound Andriuskevicius, 20, spent Thursday night in intensive care in Bismarck, N.D.

”He has a skull fracture, severe concussion and a two-centimeter hematoma on the left side of his brain,” Andriuskevicius’ agent Herb Rudoy said. ”They’ve been monitoring him because they’re concerned about seizures.

”From what I’m told, when he got hit unexpectedly, he went out cold instantly and fell right back on his head.”

The 6-6, 225-pound Storey has been suspended indefinitely while the NBA and NBDL investigate.

There’s also been a police report written, according to Det. Dean Clarkson. But Clarkson said Andriuskevicius does not want to press charges, making an arrest unlikely. Clarkson said the investigation is pending.

”Awvee’s a terrific kid,” said his Chicago-based agent Mark Bartelstein. ”They had an altercation in practice, and it’s really unfortunate.

”I know Awvee feels terrible about it. It wasn’t a situation where he just attacked the kid.”

One source said Storey said something to Andriuskevicius, who went over to Storey and got punched.

”He’s lucky he’s not dead,” Rudoy said. ”But I think he’ll be fine.

”He won’t be playing basketball for a long time. They have to be very concerned about his skull fracture healing.”

Rudoy expects Andriuskevicius to be released from the hospital in the next few days and return to Chicago for further examination.

Bulls general manager John Paxson called Andriuskevicius on Friday morning, and Bulls doctors are monitoring the situation.

Storey and Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas were arrested over Memorial Day weekend in Miami Beach for refusing to obey police. The charges later were dropped.-Sarunas Jasikevicius was waived by the Golden State Warriors in September 2007 and is now with the Panathinaikos Basketball Club in Athens, Greece.

-Šarūnas Jasikevičius was signed by the Indiana Pacers in July 2005. He was traded to the Golden State Warriors on January 17, 2007 and was was waived by the team on September 20, 2007. He currently plays for Panathinaikos BC in Greece.

-Robertas Javtokas was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2001. He was in a serious motorcycle accident in May 2002, but returned to basketball in 2003. He currently plays for MBC Dynamo Moscow.

-Arvydas Macijauskas played in 19 games for the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets in 2005-06. He’s currently with Olympiacos BC of Greece, a team commonly referred to as the “Chicago Bulls of Europe.”

-Arvydas Sabonis left the NBA in 2003 and was with Basketball Club Žalgiris in Kaunas until he retired in 2005. He currently is president/principal owner of the team.

-Renaldas Seibutis was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2007. He signed a three-year contract with Olympiacos BC on July 5, 2007.

-Eurelijus Žukauskas was drafted by Seattle in 1995 and immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. After being injured in October 2005, he was released in January 2006. He currently plays for Sabonis’s Basketball Club Žalgiris in Kaunas, where he’s the team captain.

Written by Tracy

March 2nd, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Lithuanian NBA Players

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(If you’re looking for NBA players in Lithuania during the 2011 lockout, check out this post.)

In this post, I will keep track of Lithuanian players in the NBA.

Why do I care about Lithuanian NBA players? Well, I’m Lithuanian. Like many Lithuanians, I have a long, complicated, hard-to-pronounce last name.

My dad was born in the town of Marijampole Lithuania, although he and his family left the country when he was very young. They lived in Germany for a little while and then moved on to England, then Canada, and then, like many other Lithuanian families, they settled in the Chicago area. I’ve always felt a strong connection to my Lithuanian heritage, probably because of my last name and because of the fact that my dad was born there.

I’ve also been a basketball fan longer than I’ve been a fan of anything. I fell in love with basketball when I was maybe 11 or 12. Why I fell in love with basketball is a mystery — I had no connection to it and nobody in my family was a fan. I loved the DePaul Blue Demons (my first-ever team swag was a Blue Demons hoodie) and — I don’t get this at all — the Boston Celtics (I remember wearing a green polo and a white cardigan to a family gathering — terrible I know but, to be fair, it was the 80s). Of course, we know now that basketball was a gateway drug and lead to a ridiculous obsession with football, then baseball, and even an emerging love of hockey.

So anyway, maybe it makes sense that my ancestry and my early love of basketball make me inclined to appreciate Lithuanian basketball players. Of course, my favorite is Linas Kleiza of the Denver Nuggets, so I write the most about him. I’ll try to at least keep track of some of the other guys, too.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, from Kaunas
#11–Center–Cleveland Cavaliers
7’3″/ 260
Drafted in 1996, Ilgauskas currently averages 13.9 points; 9.7 rebounds; 1.6 blocks; and 1.6 assists.

Linas Kleiza, from Kaunas
#43–Small Forward–Denver Nuggets
6’8″/ 245
In 2005, after completing his sophomore year at the University of Missouri, Kleiza was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers and immediately traded to Denver. He currently averages 12.3 points; 4.5 rebounds; and 1.3 assists. See my Linas Kleiza category for more information.

Darius Songaila, from Marijampole (How cool is that?!)
#9–Power Forward–Washington Wizards
6’9″/ 248
Drafted in 2002 by the Boston Celtics, Songaila also has played for Sacramento and Chicago. He currently averages 4.8 points; 2.9 rebounds; and 1.3 assists.

I might as well include Latvian players (or, um, player), too.

Andris Biedrins, from Riga
#15–Center–Golden State Warriors
6’11″/ 245
Biedrins was drafted in 2004 by Golden State. He currently averages 10.4 points; 9.9 rebounds; 1.2 blocks; and 1.1 assists. He’s the second Latvian player in NBA history.

Update: My 2011 “Lithuanian and Latvian NBA Players” post is here.

Written by Tracy

February 8th, 2008 at 11:02 pm

Here come the Lithuanians again.

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lithuania_flag.gif

Remember that time last year when a bunch of Lithuanian hoops fans congregated at the Pepsi Center to do some mad crazy cheering for Linas Kleiza (discussed here)? Well, they were back in full force last night, representing for Lietuvos Respublika. Ačiū for the good luck, guys (have you seen the Nugs lose a game when they’re present?).

A Nuggets team decimated by injury beat the Atlanta Hawks — without Carmelo Anthony. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a win. No Nene? Najera with a wonky elbow? No Melo? No chance, right? The team looked good, though. Cohesive. Camby had a double-double and some Andre-Miller-like assists to Kleiza, who scored 23 points. Kenyon Martin had a double-double; a healthy Kenyon Martin is a monster. Iverson contributed, as usual, with 29 points, and Anthony Carter had nine assists.

This was a nice win, and you almost have to feel a little warm and fuzzy about the Nuggets right now. The problem is that I’m never quite sure what to think about the team — and that reveals the real issue they’re facing this year: inconsistency. As soon as you’re happy about a win over a good opponent or the team’s awesome home record, they get pounded by the Lakers and lose all road games so far this month.

So we’ll see. Today, I’m cautiously optimistic and not thinking beyond the end of the month. January ends with one more home game, then three on the road. I think they can win at home, take two of the three road games, and hopefully avoid additional injuries.

Good luck, guys, and good thoughts to Nene for a speedy and complete recovery.

Written by Tracy

January 24th, 2008 at 11:46 am

Lithuanian Ladies Love Linas

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Linas Kleiza had his first NBA double double today (23 points/10 rebounds — and 7-for-7 free throws) in the Nuggets’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Awesomely, there was a crowd of Lithuanian Kleiza fans at the Pepsi Center, boisterously cheering for Kleiza. I swear he thrives on attention — he tends to kick ass during nationally televised games, and tonight he was just on fire. I love that guy and I need to hang out with these loud-ass Lithuanian basketball fans.

I’m so relieved that the Nuggets turned it around after receiving a smackdown from the lowly Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday (no really, my mom and my dog could’ve played better defense and there’s no way they would have allowed the worst team in the NBA to score 133 points on them). That Memphis game brought back painful memories of last year.

Last year, I had the misfortune of attending the final home game, which was boring as hell and the Nuggets were ahead the whole time, until they lost in the final seconds. They lost the last five regular season games of the year before being squashed by the Clippers and their super-secret ugliness powers during the playoffs. They totally let themselves go after winning the division, and I knew they weren’t a good enough team to turn it back on for the playoffs.

So this year, I’ve been watching these final games with a bit of fear that the same thing will happen again. So far, it hasn’t. There’s no denying that this year’s Spurs are better than last year’s Clippers, but the Nuggets are hot and I’m not worried. I can’t say I think they’ll win (I mean, I can say that if I’m shit talking, but I’m not sure how much I believe it yet), but I can say they’ll play well.

I know it’s too early to worry about next year, but seeing as how Al Wilson just got cut from the Broncos, which bums me out, I’ll spend just a few seconds thinking about it. Word on the street is that next year’s Nuggets team will not include Nene and Camby, and that Camby seems the more likely candidate for trading. I’m going to say it now — getting rid of Camby would rank in the top five of “biggest mistakes the Nuggets could make.” I hope it doesn’t happen.

Now, though, isn’t the time to worry. Now is the time to get ready for the playoffs, which, for me, means coming up with my 2007 San Antonio Spurs heckling strategy. Ginobili, I’ll be ready for you.

Written by Tracy

April 16th, 2007 at 9:01 pm

More Linas Kleiza

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I knew it wouldn’t be long before the world started noticing Linas Kleiza — here’s an article about him from today’s Rocky Mountain News.

In Broncos news, wide receiver Brandon Marshall was arrested on false imprisonment and domestic violence charges and spent the night in jail before being released yesterday afternoon. Marshall had no comment on the incident.

Written by Tracy

March 28th, 2007 at 11:56 am

Linas Kleiza Appreciation Society

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What might get lost in the excitement of March Madness is the fact that Linas Kleiza, Nuggets forward out of Missouri, has been kicking some serious ass. During last night’s smackdown of the Lakers, Kleiza had a career-high 29 points, outscoring Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and, well, everyone else in the game. His previous career high was the 24 points he scored in the Nuggets win this past Sunday at Sacramento, where the Nuggets had suffered the NBA’s longest losing streak, having not won at Arco Arena since 1997.

It might be a coincidence, but I find it interesting that both of these career games were nationally televised. From what I understand, he’s always amazingly dedicated and plays to the best of his ability, but I wonder if he gets a little extra motivation from being seen all over the country. It’s so great to hear national announcers talking about how awesome he’s playing, especially when they pronounce his name correctly — they usually do a good job, but there’s one local guy who never gets it right.

I’ll admit that I’m biased — I’ve liked Kleiza all along because I’m Lithuanian. I generally don’t see the point of being proud or excited about things that just are and you can’t control, such as your heritage. However, even though I don’t think it makes sense, I’m crazy for anyone and anything Lithuanian. Maybe it’s because Lithuanians are relatively uncommon (at least outside Lithuania and the Chicago area) and maybe a little quirky — kind of like White Sox fans in Colorado (I love seeing all three of us represent in our Sox hats when the Cubs play at Coors Field).

If you want to get to know more about Linas Kleiza, and you might as well so you can brag about how cool you are when he becomes a household name in the next few years, here are a few links:

kleiza.com

Linas Kleiza’s NBA page

Recent Denver Post interview

Myspace, but it’s not legit

Written by Tracy

March 16th, 2007 at 1:59 pm