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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Not quite, of course, but when you read this from HoopTime about the point guard of the Russian national team, you'll understand.

See, he's not from Moscow, Irkutsk, Vladivostok, St. Petersburg or anywhere in between.

He's J.R. Holden, one-time star of the Bucknell Bisons. No less an authority than Russian star Andrei Kirilenko has called Holden one of the top point guards in Europe.

Did we miss something when Holden played in the Patriot League? Is his name not Holden, but Khrushschev? Did he change his name to play incognito in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania?

No, he did not. Rather, Russian premier Vladimir Putin granted him special citizenship. The same way a major college might let in a transfer to fortify it's band, err, football team, the Russians took in a transfer to help their hoops team. My guess is that entreaties to the Philadelphia 76ers Allen Ivanovich and the Phoenix Suns Stefan Nashinsky failed, so Putin and the Oligarchs went for the next best thing.

In any transaction, you need a willing buyer and a willing seller, and that's what you had here. Could it be that the Russian National Team is playing its own version of Moneyball, especially when it knows that it can't land anyone who is well known? Then again, perhaps the wrong Russians are making the decisions. After all, perenially also-ran (albeit, a good also-ran) Chelsea of the English Premiership turbocharged itself after one of the Russian billionaires bought it, fortified it with huge names and then put the jets to the rest of the Premiership last year. Perhaps the Russians need a better benefactor to lure the top hoopsters to Russia and to take Russian citizenship. Then again, with English soccer, the billionaire isn't requiring that his signees take on any new citizenship obligations, just that they play great soccer.

So J.R. Holden of the Bucknell Bisons is the point guard of the Russian National Team.

Only in America.

Err, Russia.


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