Lithuanian’s love their basketball. Absolutely love it. (Toronto Star)
They come by the thousands always, with their gold, red and green flags and their drums and their uniforms and their songs and their chants.
And their passion.
First and foremost, their passion. They are as recognizable to the global basketball community as any player has ever been. The wildly enthusiastic Lithuanian fans follow their team and the sport with a fervor possibly unmatched in any sport anywhere.
It is, in many ways, what defines the nation.
“Basketball is the most important thing in Lithuania, more than anything else,” said Maurizio Gherardini, a long-time follower of the international game and now managing director of Canada’s national teams. “Basketball is not only the sport, basketball is life philosophy, it’s religion. They are all basketball people, they know the game, they are all coaches, they are all players, you feel and smell basketball everywhere. So every time you have an international competition, you have thousands of Lithuanians coming, wherever the competition is.
“It’s not just sport . . . it’s a country that found a way to present itself to the rest of the world from it.”
My parents never told me that I’m Lithuanian, but is there really any doubt? Basketball isn’t only a sport to me; it’s a life philosophy, it’s religion. I feel and smell it everywhere. It is the way I choose to present myself to the world.
Basketball is the best sport in the world, but it’s also far more than that. Cheers to Lithuania for understanding.
P.S. – Lithuania might be my favorite country now, but maybe it wants to rethink how it defines its nation. I’m a big fan of defining yourself with basketball, but when the best player in your entire country is Linas Kleiza it’s probably time for Plan B.