Saturday's New Jersey-Toronto game was the latest in what promises to be a long running rivalry between the Nets' Nenad Krstic and the Raptors' Chris Bosh.
But beyond sharing age, size and position, the two share something else: a little-known history going back to 2002, before either ventured onto an NBA court.
The two faced off in July 2002 in the Global Games, a competition for under-20 players around the world. Krstic, who had been drafted by the Nets days before, played for Yugoslavia while Bosh, having declared for Georgia Tech, played for the USA. Both were teenagers.
The USA won the gold medal in that tournament in a closely fought 91-88 game played in Fort Worth, Texas, the final margin being provided by late foul shots by an 18-year-old California guard named Antoine Wright [yes, THAT Antoine Wright.]
Bosh and Krstic shared the MVP award and were named to the Global Games all-Tournament team, as was Wright. [One of the big disappointments was that another youngster named Darko Milicic didn't get much time on the court because of injury. Wright had said he hoped to play against Milicic so he could measure his game against the heavily hype Serb. Others who played for the USA included Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack, Bracey Wright and Ike Diogu.]
The games didn't get a lot of publicity...only the local Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News gave it any attention, but Patricia Bender, the Maverick uberfan and keeper of the Patricia's Stuff basketball site, gave her appraisal of the NBA futures of Messrs. Bosh and Krstic...Wright too.
"NJ draft pick Nenad Krstic looked more impressive in this game (but he still needs muscle) and had some nice moves inside.
"Chris Bosh and Bracey Wright will likely find their way to the NBA (though Bracey needs to learn some
when to play the team game and when to be selfish and do the one-on-anyone play (had a tendency for the latter).
"Antoine Wright also might make it and has NBA range from the outside. "
Not a bad assessment.