If ever there were an image that defines bliss, this is it. When I saw that Euroleague emblem plastered against an American flag backdrop, my heart jumped for joy and I promptly sent Slam a text message with so many exclamation points you would think I’m a Jonas Brother. Even though I was told months ago that this was in the works, seeing graphic proof is a completely different kind of satisfaction. It’s like snooping around for your Christmas presents only to discover a brand new bicycle, but the pleasure doesn’t set in until you put your feet to the pedals and fly down your driveway.
So now, whether by bike, plane, railroad or gondola, Slam and I will embark on our pilgrimage to the various basketball Meccas that will be springing up in our nation this October. For the complete details on the event, check out the Euroleague press release, but here’s what to look for this October, game by game:
- October 3 in Denver, Colorado: Partizan Belgrade vs. Denver Nuggets. After losing so much of last year’s core, will Partizan put on a good show as the Euroleague’s first ambassador? And with depleted depth, will they be affected by the thin Rocky Mountain air? Breathe easy, boys.
- October 6 in Phoenix, Arizona: Partizan Belgrade vs. Phoenix Suns. This could be where Partizan strikes as Phoenix is a team in flux that is still capable of giving up easy buckets, especially if Amare Stoudemire isn’t in the mood to defend. Also, will Goran Dragic get homesick and sneak onto Partizan’s return flight?
- October 9 in San Antonio, Texas: Olympiacos Piraeus vs. San Antonio Spurs. This game should be viewed through black and white glasses as this battle of the bigs will be about as old school as it gets. Bank shots, hook shots, reverse pivots, post, pass and re-post; George Mikan would be proud.
- October 12 in Cleveland, Ohio: Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Cleveland Cavaliers. I feel badly for Josh Childress. I really do. Of all the places for him to come showcase his game to potential suitors for the 2010 NBA offseason, he runs up against two of the most team-oriented defenses in the league. While we’re at it, why doesn’t Olympiacos stop through Boston for a romp with Garnett and the gang? Childress might run into the same sort of schemes that have restricted his offensive freedom in Europe. Somebody get this man a game against the Warriors or the Wizards, please.
But wait, there’s more! In addition to these four exhibitions, Maccabi Tel Aviv will be wearing out America’s coastlines with two matches of their own:
- October 18 in New York, New York: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. New York Knicks. This is perfect. Knicks Coach Mike D’Antoni is a master of the European style of play, but he will be severely out-personnelled this time around as Maccabi has stacked up this offseason with a starting 5′s worth of proven players. The Euroleague will sneak in a win or two, I’m sure, but I’m putting my foot in the ground and calling this one. Nate Robinson is going to get a glimpse of what he turned down.
- October 20 in Los Angeles, California: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. LA Clippers. Well, lookie here: Maccabi’s going back to Israel with an American sweep. Prediction: Fred Jones gets tired of being kicked around the NBA and the former dunk champion waves goodbye to the Clippers. He starts the season on a Euroleague roster and has a stellar year. You heard it here first.