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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Russia Needs American Help to Win European Championships in Basketball

Pictured at left you see Mr. Jon Robert Holden, born in Pittsburgh, U.S.A. As the Canadian Press reported, Holden "scored with two seconds remaining Sunday to lift Russia over Spain 60-59 in the final of the European Basketball Championship. Holden stripped Spain centre Pau Gasol with 27 seconds to play then pump-faked before his jump shot bounced high and in for the win. Gasol's jumper at the buzzer rattled out as time expired."

Holden has played for Latvia, Belgium, and Greece, only joining the Russian team in 2002. According to Wikipedia: "On October 20, 2003, Holden became a Russian citizen by decree of President Vladimir Putin. This move was brought about by new Russian Basketball Federation regulations restricting the number of foreigners, and specifically Americans allowable on Russian League teams. In response to the move, CSKA Basketball CEO Sergei Kushchenko hatched the idea of Holden acquiring citizenship. Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov and the Russian State Sports Committee both wrote letters in support of the decree. Holden currently maintains dual American and Russian citizenship."

The Moscow Times, falling down on the job again as it ritualistically does where sports is concerned (seeming always to use sports as way of sucking up to Russian readers), published the photo at right showing the jolly white teammates celebrating "their victory" with the dark-skinned fellow nowhere to be seen. In the Times’ defense, maybe it simply couldn’t find any photographs where the white Russians celebrated together with the black one – and for sure, it is only doing what the vast majority of Russian news outlets are undoubtedly doing and therefore being representative of the rest of the press in Russia.

If this "Russian" knows what's good for him, he won't travel in the Moscow metro without an armed guard. Wonder how fluent his Russian is . . . well, it really doesn't matter, if Putin and Luzhkov want you then you're "Russian" it seems. Whereas if they don't, then no matter how many generations your family has in-country you are . . . well . . . you're Anna Politkovskaya.

Truly, Russian hypocrisy knows no bounds.


Frank said...

This practice is actually quite common in international basketball. Hakeem Olajuwon, after all, obtained U.S. citizenship in order to play for the United States at the 1996 Olympics. Numerous other European countries have naturalized Americans on their national team rosters.

The Russian victory was by no means a one-man job by J.R., though his play was outstanding and he nailed the big shot. Andrei Kirilenko, after all, was MVP of the entire tournament.

Oh, and J.R. has said on numerous occasions that he enjoys Moscow and feels as safe here as he does in certain parts of Pittsburgh.

Franjo said...

Watching the post game coverage of team's celebration on Russian TV I was struck by the fact that Holden was nowhere to be found.The cameras were solely focused on the white Russian team mates. No interviews or shots of the game hero clebrating with team mates.

Simply shameful not to give this man the credit he is due for his accomplishments. What a bunch of ingrates these people are.

Anonymous said...

i've talked to the cat and i've followed his russian career. yea, he likes life in the big potato, but his life is very sheltered. the team gives him a car and driver, so no, he's not riding the metro at night. the big Q is would russia have won without him????
he gives the team what it needs: quickness and intensity on D, the speed to penetrate and dish, and leadership. in my humble opinion there's no way russia wins without him.