May 26, 2009
On Friday, we spent a little time discussing the draft chances of Florida guard Nick Calathes. Calathes, a highly recruited and talented 20-year-old who, while playing well for the Gators, had yet to have a truly breakout, player-of-the-year-esque season, was faced with a decision: take his chances in the draft and potentially fall out of the first round? Or head back to school, reboot, have a good season, and try again next year?
Neither! Nick Calathes rejects your binary decision-making process, world! He's not taking the blue pill or the red pill; he's selecting option No. 3, something we hadn't even considered this time last week. Nick Calathes is going to Greece.
It's a surprise, sure, but after consideration, the move makes sense. Calathes has dual Greek citizenship and a passport, making the trips to the Mediterranean slightly less difficult than it is for me to go to Toronto. His brother, Pat, played in the Greek Euroleague last season, and Nick himself was a member of the 20-and-under Greek FIBA team last summer.
The money makes sense, too: Calathes will be paid about $1.1 million with a car, a house, and comparable U.S. tax credits, making the contract about what he'd be paid in the U.S. if he was a late first-round draft choice. Which he still might be. His agent is apparently working to keep him in the draft as late as possible -- his contract requires him to drop out by June 15 -- to see if there's a chance he could be selected higher than anticpated.
Greek fans, meanwhile, are geeked; Orlando Sentinel reporter Chris Harry swapped emails with a Greek sportswriter, and claims the story is a much bigger deal in Greece than in Gainesville. Apparently, Greeks consider Calathes the next big thing in the country's basketball profile, next to former Ohio State player Kosta Koufos. So today is a day of celebration. I might just head down to Greektown and have a gyro for lunch. Here's to you, Nick Calathes, and to the most obvious (and therefore only) Greek celebratory gesture this midwestern Irishman knows: Opa!