September 06, 2011
This year's international tournaments are a godsend for basketball fans pining for any glimpse of their NBA favorites. Yet these games are not just fun diversions for the players involved. For most, they're the culmination of years of hard work and a chance to give their home countries a chance to compete in the London Olympics. For others, like Chris Kaman(notes), it's a chance to represent some far-off land where everyone speaks a guttural language they don't understand. That sounds fun, right?
So, yes, players care. For proof, just watch the video above of Puerto Rican forward Renaldo Balkman(notes) (of the Knicks, in our NBA world) headbutting Venezuelan guard Greivis Vasquez(notes) (usually an employee of the Grizzlies) during a tussle at the FIBA Tournament of the Americas in Argentina. With his team down 85-62 with five minutes left in regulation, Vasquez grabbed Balkman in the post for a foul. It wasn't a terribly dirty play, but it was all Balkman needed to start an unnecessary fight. After the headbutt, one of Vasquez's teammates pushed Balkman to the ground and a tussle followed. In what should come as no surprise, Balkman was ejected and may see further suspension.
That's a big deal for a team hoping to get a spot in next year's Olympics from this tournament. On the other hand, who knows when Balkman will get another chance to fight an NBA player. You have to take those opportunities whenever they come up.
(Video via PBT)