As you may have read on Ball Don't Lie (or one of various other quality online basketball publications), Antoine Walker is playing in Puerto Rico, presumably in an attempt to regain his lost riches. Well all appears to be going well so far for Employee #8, as his first two games with the Guaynabo Mets have resulted in quality efforts and wins.
In his first game, playing alongside Marcus Fizer (former Chicago Bull/Milwaukee Buck) he led the team to an 81-80 win with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Here is video footage of highlights from the game against Santurce (former team of Carlos Arroyo and JJ Barea).
His second game was played on Sunday, where he scored 13 points (4/12 FG) to go along with 11 rebounds. Remarkably, he has only shot four three-pointers so far in Puerto Rico. What's happening 'Toine? Did they finally give you a four point shot?
Australian NBL fans will be glad to know that former Perth Wildcat and West Sydney Razorback, Darnell Hinson (Mike Tyson's body double) is alive and well and played in that game against Walker.
Tomorrow Walker's Mets will take on Leones De Ponce, home of former NBAer, DeMarr Johnson who is averaging 18.0ppg in three games so far this season after coming from the Jiangsu Nangang Dragons Nanjing in China where he finished in January.
Yesterday's Drazen Petrovic video session drew a lot of interest -- players with that much legend attached to them generally do. Another such player with many "what if" connotations attached at the NBA level was Oscar Schmidt. The 6'8" sharp-shooting Brazilian forward is generally considered to be the best player never to have played in the NBA (more on that below).
On March 14, 1989 in Athens, Greece, Petro and Schmidt matched up in an epic battle, competing for the European Cup. Reader Edu was kind enough to send on the following video highlights of the game. Schmidt (Snaidero Caserta) put up 44 points in a barrage of outside shots, however it was not enough in this case, as Petrovic poured in an amazing 62 points for Real Madrid in what seemed to be an endless array of three-pointers and running bank shots. Needless to say, scoring at those sort of levels is freakin' hard playing on a stage such as this.
Ben Steele, writer at Order of the Court (a great resource on games gone by) got in touch with me about the piece he wrote on this match. Here are some of the fantastic excerpts:
There were seismic changes going on across the pond in 1989. Sure, the fall of communism grabbed all the headlines. But lost in all the geopolitics is that foreign basketball players were starting to get taken seriously as professionals.
It was a matchup between two of the top non-American players at that time, Real's Drazen Petrovic and Snaidero's Oscar Schmidt.
Petrovic came out like a house afire against Snaidero. He hit 3 three-pointers to go with an array mid-range moves, piling up 27 points by halftime. Against the laissez-faire defense of Snaidero's guards, Petrovic could get any shot he wanted. Schmidt wasn't that far behind Petrovic in heating up and, by the end of regulation, both stars were going shot for shot.
Schmidt's three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining forced overtime. Petrovic finished regulation with 52 points and Schmidt had 41. Petrovic was able to grab the momentum in overtime, finishing with 62 points to Schmidt's 44 as Real Madrid earned a 117-113 victory.
Clearly this was a battle of two players who needed to play on the world's greatest stage against its greatest players. Petrovic would move onto the world's greatest domestic league, the NBA. Being drafted in the third round by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1986, two years after Schmidt was drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the sixth round, he was trapped with little playing time initially behind Clyde Drexler. He got his break when he was traded to the Nets, ultimately becoming a star shooter who had his career cut remarkably short.
In the the gold medal game of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Petrovic's Croatia took on the USA Dream Team, matching Petro up against Michael Jordan most of the way. USA were clearly the better team and took the victory, however the Croatian shooting guard put up an admirable 24 points to Jordan's 22, just months before his tragic death. (Check out Larry Bird's matador defence at the 2:30 mark as well).
Schmidt was an even brighter star on the world stage. He never made his way to the NBA, preferring to stick to what he knew best. His Interbasket profile says:
The New Jersey Nets took him with a sixth round pick in 1984. The Nets spent a number of years trying to convince him to come over to the NBA but Schmidt refused fearing that he would not get a featured role. "I know my limitations, my defects," he said "but I could never play 10 minutes a game. [The] NBA is great if you are a star. But if not, you get moved around. My friend (Georgi) Glouchkov played a year in Phoenix. He tells me bad stories about [the] NBA. The guards [did not] like him, they don't pass him the ball. I would not like that. I could not stand that."
His performances at international level were legendary. One in particular that stood out was the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis. Against the likes of David Robinson, Danny Manning and Pervis Ellison, Schmidt led Brazil to a stunning comeback victory as he scored 46 points in a 120-115 result, winning the gold medal.
This video, whilst in Portuguese, gives a strong visual representation of the celebrations involved with Brazil's win.
Schmidt played at five Olympics, being top scorer at three of them ('88, '92, '96). He scored 49,703 top-level points with various clubs at Brazil's national team, in contrast to NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points.
We will never know how Schmidt's game would have translated to the NBA -- his outside shooting sure reminds many of a particular legendary hick from the Boston Celtics. As Ben Steele said:
It is tough to say how Schmidt would have fared if he had tried to join Petrovic in the NBA. He had inside-outside skills but his game - and physical appearance - bore a striking resemblance to Danny Ferry. Then again, he averaged 28.8 points per game in Olympic play.
Before he went onto the NBA in 1989, Drazen Petrovic was a legendary player in Europe. A 6'5" shooting guard with awesome range as well as an ability to get to the basket, he was a tough scoring force to stop. Most basketball fans are aware of his tragic death on June 7, 1993 -- a car accident in Germany cut short one of the greatest European careers in NBA basketball that was just getting off its feet.
Here is footage of Petrovic in 1987/88 scoring 49 points for Cibona Zagreb against basketball powerhouse, Maccabi Tel Aviv. Just to give you a bit of extra information, the commentator is Dan Peterson, an American who relocated to Italy many years ago and who is considered something along the lines of Marv Albert crossed with Pat Riley in Italy. Thus, the Italian he is speaking here is not the fastest you'll find, but very good nonetheless. He describes how Petrovic is the best player in Europe right now and how his 49 points is a record, or certainly the highest he had seen against Milanese teams.
Deuce Bello is an amazing athlete -- and what a name! The 6'3" small forward of West Chester Academy (NC) ranks #11 at his position on Scout.com's rankings for the Class of 2011 and it's not hard to see why he is on the radar, with the type of freakish athleticism he is packing. The scouting report goes like this: "Potential elite prospect on the wing. Can play multiple positions. Explosive, quick and a great leaper. Shot has progressed and he's got some physical ability that will put in a category higher than his peers."
Watching this video, highlighting his dunks this season, it's hard not to see a future highlight reel in the making -- at least at the collegiate level. Is he the best dunker in high school basketball? If you've seen better, let me know in the comments -- I want to see it.
Stephon Marbury's journey in the Chinese Basketball Association continues and it gets more interesting. In his second game with Shanxi, Starbury's overall performance is much improved as he finishes with 15 points and 15 assists, despite some poor shooting, but it is the crowd that brings the most interest. Marbury along with team mate Maurice Taylor took on the Southern Tigers of Guangdong, a team that includes Smush Parker and David Harrison.
As was the case in his first game, the Chinese crowd grows unruly with perceived bad calls by the officials and they proceed to throw projectiles (particularly cigarette ligthers) onto the court. The blogger simply known as "The Tao" at Heart of Beijing has some great and detailed reporting on the game and this video of the violence unfolding, causing players to leave the court:
In the lead-up to the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey, head of FIBA, Bob Elphinston talks about the state of the international game of basketball, the strong connections between the NBA and FIBA and various other issues. An interesting interview with the Australian who leads the international basketball body.
Remember when it took a huge Shaq Attaq to bring down a backboard, or at least a Darryl Dawkins "The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam?" Well, Doug Anderson has shattered that concept, literally.
Despite not being a huge man, Anderson of Mott Community College managed to shatter the backboard early in the game on what was a pleasant, but not earth-shattering dunk. According to local reports, it was a first at Ballenger Field House:
FLINT -- You'd think Mott head coach Steve Schmidt had seen it all in his 19 years at the helm of the Mott basketball program, but a stunning development on Wednesday night had previously gone unwitnessed by the three-time national champion coach.
Emerging Warnings is a new series at A Stern Warning, focussing on emerging high school basketball talents. If you are an emerging basketball star or you know of one, you can contact me to be featured.
Darrell "Bucky" Chenault is a 5'10" shooter from Columbus Centennial. Graduating in the class of 2010, you can see that the guard has some serious shooting talents, both from range and an ability to get into the key and make shots, contorting his body in traffic. This video comes courtesy of City League Hoops and shows highlights of Bucky's skills.