Euro Guide for Beginners
eu•ro or Eu•ro
n. pl. eu•ros or eu•ro's
1.The basic unit of currency among participating European Union countries.
2. A foreign born professional basketball player, occasionally from Europe.
Well before Austrian hackles were raised over Turkey’s prospective entry into the EU, and the very idea of what it meant to be European crept across the Caspian, our fair Association employed a definition of ‘Euro’ so broad, so inclusive, as to make it both meaningless and profound.
As no less an arbiter of geopolitical subtleties than Donyell Marshall himself once noted, when his then new teammate on the Raptors, Mongolian born Mengke Batteer, demanded Marshall pay him in exchange for switching jerseys so Marshall could have his favored # 42, “Boy, those Europeans sure know how to negotiate”.
In short, if a player is white and foreign they are a Euro. If a player is European, they are a Euro. If a player is seven feet tall and has a name that the average American finds difficult to spell, they are occasionally a Euro. As of yet, no African player has been described as a Euro.
But beyond the messy definitions, beyond the Cabarkapas, the Zazas, and the Zorans, lie some of basketball’s most passionate practitioners. What follows is an entry-level guide to these men and the lands from which they came. Our more advanced readers will find much of this information familiar, and may wish to refer to our previous, more expansive roundtable Euro discussion, held this summer.
Example: Andres "Chapu" Nocioni
Style of play: scrappy, fearless, reckless and prone to flopping
Notable anecdote: Of the play of Aregentinian icon, Manu Ginobili, Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl said, "I'm going to put in on tape and show my son how to play basketball...just put your head down and run into people, I guess that's a new brand of basketball."
Additional notes: All Argentinian NBA players are actually of Italian heritage.
Do they have black people?: No, you must be thinking of Brazil.
Example: Nedzad Sinanovic
Style of play: dedicated, soldier-like discipline and work ethic
Notable anecdote: During a Blazers practice, the 7-4 Sinanovic once got into a fist fight with 7-3 Korean teammate Ha Seung-Ja, who left shouting, "I'll sue! I'll sue!" Seung-Ja later came back with a wooden pole and began swinging it at Sinanovic before he was restrained by coaches.
Do they have black people?: No, but they have Muslims.
Example: Boris Diaw
Style of play: lumbering if over 6-foot-9, skittish if smaller
Notable anecdote: Passing on Queens-bred star Ron Artest in the 1999 NBA Draft, the Knicks instead selected 7-3 French center Frederic Weis, who never made it to the NBA and is best known for being literally jumped over by Vince Carter in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Additional notes: Most French NBA players are actually born in the Carribean Islands.
Do they have black people?: A better question is, do they have white people? All French NBA players with the exception of the aforementioned Frederic Weis are black.
Example: Nikoloz "Skita" Tskitishvili
Style of Play: a wussier, slightly disinterested version of Lithuania
Notable Anecdote: Skita, and his then Warriors teammates Andris Beidrins (Latvia) and Zarko Cabarkapa (Serbia) once pulled up to an NYC club in a horse-drawn carriage.
Additional notes: When asked about his rumored "ballet training" on draft night, Skita shot back (in perfect, hip-hop-inflected English) that it was actually a form of Georgian national dance.
Do they have black people?: No. For the millionth time, it's not that Georgia.
Player: Dirk Nowitzki
Style of play: Dirk
Notable anecdote: Shortly after a playoff loss to the Spurs in 2003, Dirk and then-teammate Steve Nash got hammered at a nearby pub, an event documented with photos that have made quite the rounds on the internet.
Do they have black people?: Yes, but only that guy in all the Fassbinder movies and one-time Can yowler Malcolm Mooney.
Example: Viktor Khrypa
Example: Arvydas "Big Red" Sabonis
Style of Play: all the little things with surprising grace and feeling, iron will to win
Notable Anecdote: Zydrunas Ilguaskas was once spotted trolling around the Cleveland suburbs in a stretch Excursion. He stopped to watch a child hit a pinata and then proceeded to keep his friends' neighbors up by drunkenly reveling in Appetite for Destruction and Licensed to Ill.
Additional notes: A young Yao Ming used the screen name "Sabonis" when posting on basketball message boards.
Do they have black people?: No, but they name a lot of their male children "Darius," which has already caused a great deal of confusion around the league.
Style of play: demonstrate far more heart than other Eastern Euros, making their relative absence in the NBA surprising
Notable anecdote: Russia's most notable NBA player, Andrei Kirielenko, has 14 different nicknames, including "Electronic," a reference to the Russian kids film Adventures of the Electronic, in which there appears a robot double of the boy Sergei Syroezhkin.
Do they have black people?: Yes, beware of Viktor Keiru, the "Black Russian," an up and coming NBA prospect of half-Russian, half-South African heritage.
SERBIA & MONTENEGRO
Example: Vlade Divac
Style of play: tough and rugged, yet with a high level of finesse
Notable anecdote: While playing for the Kings, Divac and Peja Stojakovic were able to improvise at such a high level using what Divac calls "Serbian telepathy" that he began calling Peja "Special Boy."
Additional notes: Serbia & Montenegro has produced the most NBA players of any European nation to date.
Do they have black people?: Despite the name Montenegro, there are no black people in Serbia & Montenegro.
Example: Vitaly "Ukraine Train" Potapenko
Style of play: they play with a surprising amount of style and humor
Notable anecdote: Potapenko once had a personal website linked to the Sonics homepage with audio clips of his impersonation of Robert DeNiro, among other bizarre features.
Do they have black people? No.