After reading two reports of Zoran Planinic's solid game against Greece--21 points in a winning effort--I began to wonder why he didn't show up in the recap of the Croatian game against Italy. Hmmm. Italy, you may recall, got the silver medal at the Olympics and made Team USA look very bad in an exhibition game. Why hold out your best player when you are playing the best team in a tournament? Being a Net fan, I immediately assumed the worst. [I wonder if Spurs fans think like this?] So I decided to email the reporters who were writing about the Torneo dell' Adriatico in Porto San Giorgio, Italy.
The first report from Milan Lazarevic of 24sec.net was encouraging. Milan assured me that "Everything is O.K. with Planinic. Croatian coach, Neven Spahija, decided to play these friendly matches with lot of rotations, so in first game they played without several superstars and this time against Italy they were on court, but Planinic was not - this was just coaching decision to give other guys chance to play." Okay not to worry.
Then, in the morning, I got conflicting reports, from Milan and another reporter, Christos Maimedes, of Eurobasket. Milan had the bad news: "New information... Planinic heart leg and in next days it will be known a level of injury, but they hope that it is not something serious. Sorry for first information, but this is something newest which Croatian medias published today."
Maimedes had the good news. He said it was nothing: "No problem at all. The Coach of Croatia wants to have a full picture of his team so now with these friendly games he wants to 'see' all his players, the total number is 18 he have to select 12". Okay, moderate concern, which for a Nets' fan resembles total panic.
To be sure, I asked Milan for links to the newest stories he wrote about. He quickly replied, "This one has complete information, but it is on Croatian:
"But, they will probably publish it on English in next few days on:
Going to the first site made me worry a bit more. Planinic, it said, was "OZLIJEĐEN" and it said what it said in big bold capital letters! Uh-oh, sounds ominous, I thought. So, I went to a Croatian-to-English online translation site. Too busy. Undaunted, I went instead to a Croatian-to-English online dictionary site. Success, after a fashion: "OZLIJEĐEN" means "hurt" or "injured". Oh dear, confirmation. So, I ran a couple of other words from the story through the site. One key word meant "tactical". I took that as a good sign...the coach had made a "tactical" decision to keep him out of the game, but another word turned out to mean "clinic". Clinic? Why did he need to go to a clinic? Bad news.
Back to the second site, the very highly polished Crobasket, the English version of Kosarka.hr. It didn't yet have any reports on the injury. Maybe they were using that interminably busy Croatian-to-English translation service. It did note, however, that Planinic didn't even dress for the game with Italy. Ugh! But there on the site were links to email the two authors. They might be able to help.
Indeed, within hours, a new and more comforting email had arrived, from Karlo Dzeverlija of Crobasket: "It is nothing serious Robert. NT [national team] assistent coach told me that Zoran didn't play just because of caution. He will be ready for tuesday game I think..." He thinks? Okay, I will go with that. My nascent Croatian language skills did indeed help me understand the decison to keep him out was "tactical". Moreover, Karlo's assurance that it was "because of caution" was helping get through another long night [day?] of being a Net fan.
Finally, in the late evening, East Coast US time, Crobasket.com reported all my worry was for nothing...I think. Zoran had felt a "stiffness in his hamstring" during warm-ups and the coach was left with little choice but to rest him and send him to a clinic as a precaution. I'm sure Rod Thorn would agree. He has read enough MRI's this summer!
I am a big fan of Zoran's. I think with some confidence--like scoring 21 points in a tournament that features six other NBA players--he can be a real contributor. He certainly is a good guy, as Ed Stefanski has pointed out. Bottom line: he appears to be okay, but being a Net fan, you never know. I get nervous anytime I see a Net headed for a "klinika", no matter how "taktičkih" it turns out to be.