Ukranian Kyrylo Fesenko, the normally extremely jovial former Utah Jazz player, is about midway through a phone interview on the Russian invasion of his home country. Suddenly, he turns the tables. He starts asking the questions. “Do you know where is the closest bomb shelter for you?”
I do not. Neither did Fesenko’s family, living in Dnipro, Ukraine, until last week. “Do you know what to do when you hear the sound of an airstrike alarm?” I absolutely do not. And again, neither did Fesenko’s family until last week. “For my mom, for my stepfather, it is a new normal,” Fesenko says. “They are basically running back and forth to the bomb shelter every time that happens.”
Fesenko has been known for his relentless expression of positivity for his whole life — it’s the reason he’s beloved by Jazz fans. But the terror he’s seen on the news, the trauma he’s heard from those he loves, and the sheer senselessness of what’s going on; well, you can tell it’s affecting him.
For example, Fesenko has numerous Russian contacts, thanks to his time playing in Russia and its basketball league. From a local perspective, he overlapped with teammate Andrei Kirilenko for all four of the Ukrainian’s years in Utah. But at the moment, he’s shutting them all out. “The level of frustration and hatred in my heart right now is too high. From being civil and reasonable human being I am, I cannot speak with Russian people at this moment right now,” Fesenko said.
He continues, forcefully. You can hear it in his voice — he’s grappling with this new emotion: anger. “I need somebody to blame. I blame Russia. Yeah, of course, I blame most of all (Russian president Vladimir) Putin. But I also blame the people who are silent. The influencers who did not even say anything, I blame. I blame people for letting this bloody dictator to run freely this country into the ground. Right now, Russia is getting economically killed. I am not sure they’re going to recover from this hole for another 15-20 years.
Andrew Lopez: The Pelicans are wearing yellow socks tonight. The team tells us they are wearing those in support of Ukraine.
Fighting had erupted in Ukraine. Former NBA player Toure’ Murry was still in the western city of Ternipol, Ukraine, where he played for professional basketball team BC Ternipol. He needed to get out of the country, and that wasn’t easy. Though fighting had not consumed Ternipol, he said missiles landed in a city two hours away. “It was difficult and confusing because my city was pretty far away from all the action that was going on in the beginning, but everything escalated pretty fast,” Murry told USA TODAY Sports. “I got a call from my team telling me it was pretty serious, and they had a car waiting.”
Murry got in the car on Friday but didn’t know where he was going. “There was risk of going to the Poland border and getting sent back. There was no guarantees,” Murry said. “So we took a leap of faith going through Romania. It worked out in terms of getting across the border. But going through the situation, we had no idea if we would get out.” After a 4-½-hour car ride to the Romanian border, Murry took a train to Bucharest and then flew to Amsterdam and home to Houston. That wasn’t the end of his worry. His brother, Yanick Murry, is an assistant coach with BC Budivelnyk in Kyiv, the site of an intense battle between Russians and Ukrainians. He just left the country on Sunday, fleeing to Warsaw, Poland. “His experience has been really, really tough,” Murry said. “He barely made it out.”
On Feb. 12, the U.S. ordered non-emergency employees to leave the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, and that prompted Stockton to plan his departure. “When the U.S. embassy left Kyiv, that generally means that something is imminent, or made me feel that something is imminent,” Stockton said. “As an American, that's my final security blanket. If stuff goes bad and the embassy's not here, then it's every man for himself, and you’ve got to try to find your own way out. “So when the embassy packed up and left, that was when the decision was made that we're not going to stay any longer and it's time for us to go home.”
GeorgeZakkas: #FIBA: In line with the International Olympic Committee Executive Board resolution and its reasons, FIBA has announced today that Russian teams and officials will not be allowed to participate in FIBA Basketball and 3x3 Basketball competitions until further notice.
Daniel Hackett has left CSKA Moscow, according to El Mundo Deportivo. Hackett is the 7th player of CSKA Moscow that has left the Russian powerhouse since the war vs Ukraine has started. The athletes that have left are: Kevin Pangos, Tornike Shengelia, Iffe Lundberg, Marius Grigonis, Johannes Voigtmann and Joel Bolomboy.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Veteran NBA guard Shabazz Napier is leaving BC Zenit in Saint Petersburg amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sources tell ESPN. Napier had recently recovered from an ankle injury and neared a return to the EuroLeague team, but the attack has prompted his departure back to the U.S.
After publicly displaying his support of Ukraine, Tornike Shengelia decided to terminate his stint at CSKA Moscow, according to Georgian outlet Commersant. “Toko Sengelia has not made any statement to any media outlet,” said his agent Nikos Varlas, “He is focused right now on the well-being of his family. When a decision is made regarding his future he will talk first and foremost with CSKA Moscow.”
Donatas Urbonas: The next EuroLeague meeting will be held on Monday, per BasketNews sources. Russian clubs and the EuroLeague will work on the relocation plan until then.
The Kings and visiting Denver Nuggets held a moment of silence and linked arms in a show of solidarity with Sacramento center Alex Len and his home country of Ukraine ahead of Thursday night's game. Len and Toronto Raptors wing Svi Mykhailiuk, the two Ukrainian players in the NBA this season, released a statement earlier Thursday condemning Russia's invasion of their country. "A great tragedy befell our dear homeland Ukraine," they said in a joint statement on social media. "We categorically condemn the war. Ukraine is a peaceful, sovereign state inhabited by people who want to decide their own destiny. We pray for our families, friends, relatives and all the people who are in the territory of Ukraine. We hope for an end to this terrible war as soon as possible.
Sean Cunningham: Before tonight's game tipped-off with the Kings and Nuggets in Sacramento, both teams joined arm-in-arm in support of Kings C Alex Len, whose home country of Ukraine has been invaded by Russia. Their message: "NO WAR."
Donatas Urbonas: EuroLeague is expected to suggest hosting Russian teams' home games at neutral arenas until the end of the season, per sources.
Donatas Urbonas: Before Russia invaded Ukraine, EuroLeague and Belgrade agreed on a Final 4 relocation, per sources. The agreement still has to be approved by the EL teams. The official announcement might also be postponed due to war in Ukraine. The Final Four will be rescheduled as well.
August 15, 2022 | 2:10 am EDT Update
Fox 32 Chicago Sports: Giannis on playing for the #Bulls someday tonight on The Sports Zone on Fox 32 Chicago. @fox32news @foxkickoff @LouCanellis @CassieCarlsonTV @Giannis_An34
“I think anyone asked that question who plays basketball, if he said no, he’d be a liar. It’s a team that won multiple championships, a team with one of the greatest players, if not the greatest player to ever play this game. It’s a no-brainer, everybody would love to play for Chicago. Down the line, you never know. You never know how life brings it. Maybe I play for Chicago,” Antetokounmpo said. “But right now, I’m committed to Milwaukee.”
Dave McMenamin: The L.A. Clippers will tip off their regular season against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 20, a source told ESPN, in what will be a designated ‘road’ game for LAC. The Clippers currently have a seven-game winning streak versus their Crypto.com Arena cohabitants
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is unbeaten in seven games against the Lakers since taking over two seasons ago, while it will be Lakers coach Darvin Ham’s first meeting of arena tenants since his hiring in May. The game will be the Clippers’ season opener, while the Lakers will open two days earlier, on Oct. 18, at defending champion Golden State, according to a person with knowledge of the schedule.
Duane Rankin: #Suns at #Nuggets Christmas Day, sources confirm to @azcentral. Phoenix 2-1 vs. Denver last season, winning last two. Won at Denver 140-130 Mar. 24 for 60th win. Devin Booker 49 after Amir Coffey’s face was on screen instead of his in starter intro. “That was disrespectful.” pic.twitter.com/7sPb2PDQ0J
On Sunday, Durant sent a tweet hinting that he’s going to delete his account on the platform amid the talks that it is ruining his legacy. However, he has since deleted the post. What’s interesting is Kevin Durant sent it out after people kept criticizing him for being the culprit in the current state of the player empowerment era in the NBA. A lot of players seem to be abusing that power to get out of situations they don’t like despite signing their contracts and teams paying them tons of money.
Clutch Points: Steph Curry, Seth Curry, Jayson Tatum, Rich Paul and company at Draymond Green’s wedding 💯 (via tatum_camps/IG) pic.twitter.com/NYHtcmFrhr