When Lithuanian basketball club Zalgiris Kaunas bought the services of college basketball bad boy Reeves Nelson for the remainder of the season, it turns out that the club may have ended up with five centimeters less than what they bargained for. According to a report on basketball blog-site euro-step.net, Nelson – who the club purchased as a big man back in December after he was kicked off the UCLA team for ill-discipline – is in fact five centimeters shorter than what he was originally thought to be. The club purchased Nelson believing the forward to be 2.03 meters. However when measured upon his arrival at the club, it has turned out he is only 1.98 meters – a significant difference in a sport where height plays a major role. The problem could have arisen from a difference in systems in which Nelson may have been measured, with his shoes on in the United States, but barefoot in Kaunas. However, shoes should not account for a whole five centimeters. A player’s height plays a significant part in judging their market value, meaning that Zalgiris may have paid for more than what they have. Having only played a handful of minutes for Zalgiris, the 20-year-old American is yet to impress, but it remains early days while Nelson continues to learn the team systems.
Keeping with Zalgiris Kaunas, their outspoken owner, Russian businessman Vladimir Romanov, is continuing to make the headlines for truly bizarre activities. At the end of last year he began stating that he was intending on selling another of his business interests, Scottish Premier League (SPL) football club Hearts. Since then, he has refused to inject any more cash into the club, including refusing to pay player’s wages for the month of December. However, the SPL came down hard on the Lithuanian resident claiming the club could be docked points or dished out a trade embargo, seeing the issue finally come to a close Dec. 4. However, Romanov could not resist one more jab, posting a rant on the club’s official Web site a day later, beginning the often nonsensical letter by alluding to all members of the media as “monkeys” who had created “conspiracy plots” against his club and forced the SPL into acting unreasonably, claiming that the wages were always going to be paid when he received payment for an earlier player transaction he had made. He then concludes the letter by claiming that a zoo should be created and the “monkeys” should be locked up to stop them from jumping on people. It should be mentioned this man once had ambitions to run for the presidency of Lithuania, but was deemed ineligible on account of being born in Russia.
It is not just the owner of Zalgiris making headlines, but also the president of their biggest rivals, Lietuvos Rytas. Gedvydas Vainauskas – who is also the general director of the Lietuvos Rytas media group – has sent a letter to the Lithuanian Basketball Federation stating that this year his team will not be participating in the Lithuanian Cup (a direct knockout competition in which his team, along with Zalgiris, receives direct entry into the semifinals), claiming that the broadcast rights to the Final Four had been taken away from Lietuvos Rytas TV. The Lithuanian Federation has hit back, claiming they were never under any obligation to give the broadcast rights to Lietuvos Rytas TV and have instead opted to air the Final Four on a different network. It is unclear as to whether a conclusion will be arrived upon that will still see Lietuvos Rytas compete in the tournament.