NBA Players in Lithuania

So, we’ve already discussed Lithuanians (and Latvians) who play in the NBA. This year, in an interesting turn of events due to the NBA lockout, we have NBA players who will be playing in Lithuania.

Sonny Weems of the Toronto Raptors (formerly of the Nuggets) was the first NBA player to sign with a Lithuanian team. He’ll be playing with Zalgiris Kaunas, where he’ll be joined by Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets, who just announced his deal with the team today. The NBA players are free to return to their NBA teams as soon as the lockout ends.

I’ll let you know if any more NBA players plan to head to the glorious land of My People. (JR Smith, maybe?) If this guy’s tweet is any indication, Lithuanian fans are pretty excited about this development.

Vintage: Lithuanians + Craig Sager = AWESOME

This was originally published on August 11, 2008.
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Dan Steinberg is my new favorite person on the internet. Yesterday, he discussed the fact that Lithuania’s Fans Are Balling. I love this so much, because he recognizes something that has made me very proud for many years — My People are freaking awesome. We love our basketball. And we have the tie dye (well, “we” in the sense of, as a people, some Lithuanians represent by wearing tie dye although I personally do not because, well, ew) to prove it. Also, many of us have green eyes, which is rare (I learned this the other day). Random, but cool! Like Lithuanians! We’re also known for being stubborn, which is a blessing and a curse, let me tell you.

Dan Steinberg also bestowed upon the world the most awesome interview with Craig Sager to ever exist. What do I make of Craig Sager and his fixation on blonde Lithuanian women? If you’ve read about me on Deadspin, you might be surprised.

Craig Sager

Prince Williams/Getty Images

Craig Sager is one of those guys who I notice every time he’s on TV, but I don’t really know anything about him. Whenever he’s reporting from the sidelines of an NBA game, I yell at B, “Dude! Check out what he’s wearing! When you’re old you need to dress like this!” His wardrobe is the shit and in life, he’s attained a certain level of awesomeness.

My thoughts on the Craig Sager interview are twofold. First, I think that, once you’ve achieved a certain level of awesomeness in life, you’re allowed to say some crazy shit and that adds to, rather than detracts, from your awesomeness. Second, I think that there’s nothin’ wrong with appreciating anybody’s hotness. I’m not going to blame anybody for finding, say, blonde Lithuanian women hot. They are! There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that.

I also love the wardrobe discussion. Quoth Sager:

Yeah. I brought all sorts of different underwear that match my shirt. That’s the only thing I can do.

Hee.

Anyway, my favorite part of the interview isn’t anything Craig Sager said. It was something Dan Steinberg said. Here’s a snippet (Steinberg is in bold):

The dunking mascots missed all of their dunks off the trampoline.

Did they?

You’re not supposed to miss your dunks off the trampoline.

Well, see, I can give you perspective on that too, because I was [Willie] the Wildcat at Northwestern.

Of course you were.

No really, I just died from laughing so hard. Craig Sager, international pimp and appreciator of Lithuanian sexy women (is saying “Lithuanian sexy” redundant?) is talking about all kinds of shit and, just to show how he thoroughly out-awesomes you in every possible way, he tells you that, in addition to being married to a Luvabull and being too busy to pay attention to dunking mascots while he provides his earth-shattering commentary on athletic festivities, which is how he makes a living and is much cooler than whatever you do, he throws in that he was the mascot at Northwestern. To this, what other response could there be but, “Of course you were.”

I’m going to find a way to work “Of course you were” into my everyday conversation when possible.

I was the attorney who worked tirelessly to exonerate the innocent defendant with the help of newly discovered DNA evidence.

Of course you were.

I was really drunk and actin’ a fool at the Rockies game before they put me in the little self-contained jail within the bowels of Coors Field.

Of course you were.

Maybe I’ll even wear tie dye while saying it.

Lithuanian and Latvian NBA Players: Part II

The original “Lithuanian NBA Players” post is here.

So, what have my peeps been up to since I wrote that post in 2008?

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, from Kaunas
#11–Center–Miami Heat
7’3″/ 260
Drafted in 1996, Ilgauskas currently averages 6.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game.

Linas Kleiza, from Kaunas
#11–Small Forward–Toronto Raptors
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. In 2009, he was with Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece and in 2010, he signed with the Toronto Raptors. He’s a regular on the Lithuanian national team, which won bronze in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. In early 2011, he had microfracture surgery on his right knee (this is the same thing Kenyon Martin has had twice and it’s a big deal). He hopes to be ready to play by the start of the 2011-12 season.

Darius Songaila, from Marijampole (My dad is from there!)
#25–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 1.8 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 0.2 assists per game.

Andris Biedrins, from Riga, Latvia
#15–Center–Golden State Warriors
7′/ 240
Biedrins was drafted in 2004 by Golden State. He currently averages 5.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. He’s the second Latvian player in NBA history.
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There should be more Lithuanians (and another Latvian) in the NBA after the 2011 draft. Here are the prospects:

Jonas Valanciunas, from Utena
Power Forward
6’10″/230
b. 5/6/92
Predicted: #4 to Washington Wizards (ESPN); #3 to Toronto Raptors (DraftExpress.com, profile here); he gets a favorable write-up on NBADraft.net but I don’t see a projection for him there

Mindaugas Kuzminskas, from Vilnius
Small Forward
6’8″/218
b. 10/19/89
Projected: second round/undrafted (ESPN)

Donatas Motiejunas, from Kaunas
Power Forward
7′/220
b. 9/20/90
Projected: late lottery (ESPN); #3 to Charlotte Bobcats (DraftExpress.net, profile here) #4 to Washington Wizards (NBADraft.net, profile here)

David Betrans, from Valmiera, Latvia
Small Forward
6’10″/210
b. 11/12/92
Projected: first round bubble (ESPN); #27 to New Jersey Nets from Los Angeles Lakers (DraftExpress.com, profile here) #39 to Charlotte Bobcats (NBADraft.net)

(No music today! I’m watching what I hope is not the last Nuggets game of the season.)

My Latest Great Idea for the Nuggets

Basketball hasn’t exactly been the first thing on my mind these days. I watched Lithuania get dismantled by Argentina (WTF hair?) in the Olympic bronze medal game and then drank myself unconscious to forget the misery I just witnessed. That was awful, even considering how much I love yelling all the Lithuanian names until B gets annoyed and falls asleep on the couch. Other than that, though, I haven’t thought much about basketball lately.

But! I had the best idea ever — an idea that can solve at least 2/3 of the problems that will plague the Nuggets in the upcoming season. Curious? Come with me, to a land where a Nuggets championship is possible!

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Lithuanian Hoops in the Olympics

I’m kind of on sports overload right now. There’s been SO MUCH going on — I’ve spent the last few evenings stuck to the couch watching Olympics on two channels, one or two baseball games, and the occasional football.

Because of this madness, it took me a few days to watch the Lithuania/Russia basketball game I recorded. I finished watching it yesterday. Unfortunately, and I know they’re Lithuania’s best chance at Olympic greatness (so far, we have one bronze, won by wrestler Mindaugas Mizgaitis), I just wasn’t that impressed.

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Lithuanians + Craig Sager = AWESOME

Dan Steinberg is my new favorite person on the internet. Yesterday, he discussed the fact that Lithuania’s Fans Are Balling. I love this so much, because he recognizes something that has made me very proud for many years — My People are freaking awesome. We love our basketball. And we have the tie dye (well, “we” in the sense of, as a people, some Lithuanians represent by wearing tie dye although I personally do not because, well, ew) to prove it. Also, many of us have green eyes, which is rare (I learned this the other day). Random, but cool! Like Lithuanians! We’re also known for being stubborn, which is a blessing and a curse, let me tell you.

Dan Steinberg also bestowed upon the world the most awesome interview with Craig Sager to ever exist. What do I make of Craig Sager and his fixation on blonde Lithuanian women? If you’ve read about me on Deadspin, you might be surprised.

Continue reading

Lithuanians and Latvians in the Olympics

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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