I live in America. I love America. And before I left, I foolishly thought that it was the world’s one and only hoops haven. Spain, perhaps a close second, based solely on the international success they’ve had in the past decade and the representation they trot out on an average NBA night. Then I arrived in Spain. I went to a local department store and found what? Jorge Garbajosa jerseys from three years ago when he was on the damn Raptors. Oh cool, Pau Gasol! On the Lakers. Rudy and Sergio on the Blazers and Little (in age only) Gasol on the Grizzlies. While I certainly appreciated their appreciation for their stars abroad, I yearned to find a place where those who stayed home were rewarded with undying loyalty and devotion from their fans. Then Martynas Pocius asked me to come up to Lithuania, where in his words “basketball is a religion.” With an empty schedule and an open mind, I booked my ticket a week later. A minor volcano problem and two ticket changes thereafter, I arrived in Kaunas and was greeted with icy snow—Weather.com refers to it as a “wintry mix”—and Mr. Pocius’ amazingly generous girlfriend. I spent seven days there, taking in the inconsistent weather, wonderful exchange rate and traditionally prepared capelinai which was incredibly delicious but might still not have digested properly (no regrets). What struck me most was the landscape. Not geographically speaking, but solely athletically. I’m talking about netless hoops on nearly every corner and basketballs on half of the billboards. I’m talking about walking next to Marty while his 20 foot face stares at me from a Maxima billboard. If one cliche in life is true, it’s that hard work pays off, and while this past year has been rough for Lithuanian diehards with the Eurobasket underachievement and now with all this Romanov-nonsense, it’s only going to get better. Never have I seen such disproportionate love for the game that I grew up adoring than I did in Lietuva, so hearken back to the glory days and keep on rolling. Euroleague Adventures is on your side.
Give ’em hell Lithuania,
I think Romanov might want to spend a few minutes watching this so he knows who he’s f***ing with. Props to Marty Pocius for pointing this one out.