Stars of the basketball EM: A “fat without muscles”, a freak and Motzki

Stars of the basketball championship
A “fat without muscles”, a freak and Motzki

Big stars from the NBA are playing at the European Basketball Championship. Germany, for example, relies on playmaker Dennis Schröder. But the other top nations also have their superstars with them. The man who has just signed the biggest contract in NBA history is running for Serbia.

Luka Doncic (Slovenia): As the leader of the Dallas Mavericks, Doncic has taken on the role of his sidekick Dirk Nowitzki, both of whom played side-by-side for the Texans for a year. Like Jokic, the guard from Ljubljana is not a typical athlete, but a gifted thrower with a great eye. At the beginning of 2021, Doncic overtook the great Michael Jordan with his 29th triple-double, and he is now tenth in the all-time list of the best – at the age of 23. Opponents have to try to slow down Doncic, they can’t stop him completely. Doncic, who won the title unbeaten in his European Championship debut with Slovenia in 2017, still has a major weakness: he discusses too much with the referees and collects a number of technical fouls.

Nikola Jokic (Serbia): Recently it rained money for the center, the Denver Nuggets extended their star player by five years and paid 264 million US dollars – it is the largest contract in NBA history. Jokic deserves it, the 27-year-old was named the best player in the main round (MVP) twice in a row, eclipsing exceptional figures such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jokic is not a model athlete, he was overweight as a child. “He looks like a big fat guy with no muscles,” legendary coach Gregg Popovich once said about him. But Jokic plays creatively, tricky, unpredictably, “cleverly and completely selflessly” (Popovich). A weapon that is difficult to control.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece): The “Greek Freak” was also MVP twice, but once in the finals, which he won with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. The man with the difficult-to-spell surname Jokic still has the NBA title ahead of him. Antetokounmpo grew up as one of five children in poverty in a district of Athens, his parents are from Nigeria. The power forward with the enormous arm span (2.20 meters) made it from the bottom to the top, plays extremely powerfully, regularly pulls to the basket with force and without considering losses. In the European World Cup qualifier the 27-year-old set a record last week with 40 points against Serbia. He stole it from German playmaker Dennis Schröder, who got 38.

Rudy Gobert (France): He is the master of the baskets, 2.15 meters tall and the French anchor in defense. It is not for nothing that Gobert (29) was named the best defender in the NBA three times (2018, 2019, 2021), each time in the Utah Jazz jersey. That summer, the club traded the center to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Gobert won Olympic silver with the Equipe tricolore in Tokyo last year, previously twice at the World Championships and once at the European Championships. The “Big Man” alone will make life very difficult for the German team in the opening game.

Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia): In the last two years Bogdanovic was Gobert’s teammate in Salt Lake City, the small forward is a strong scorer, career high in the NBA: 48 points. Born in Mostar (now Bosnia and Herzegovina), the 33-year-old was number one at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with an average of 25.3 points. Bogdanovic has been under contract with the NBA since 2014 and came to Utah via Brooklyn, Washington and Indiana.

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