By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Less than a week ago, Anthony Randolph was crowned EuroBasket champion with the Slovenian national team. He had a major contribution in the country’s first-ever gold medal achievement and perfect 9 – 0 run towards the title by posting 11.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
One of his top displays arrived in the quarterfinal clash vs Kristaps Porzingis’ Latvia. While he flirted with the double-double (16 points, 9 rebounds) to help his team get the ticket to Top 4 in a narrow win, a small scrap with the “Unicorn” during the final moments of the match left him facing threats and racist attacks on his social media profiles.
“The nights and days following that incident I had Latvian fans, Turkish fans and people from all over, people in New York, leaving comments on my page calling me the ‘N-word”, Randolph said in an interview with The Undefeated. “They were saying I was trash and that if I come to New York they would kill me. It was pretty interesting. I didn’t respond to anybody or waste my energy on stuff like that.”
Following the game, Kristaps said that Randolph was playing “dirty from the beginning”, but for the Real Madrid center, the whole incident was just part of a quite intense and physical knockout battle. “We got tangled up and I tried to get untangled from him,” Randolph said. “I turned around and he was coming at my face. The first thing I could think of is, ‘What is going on?’ It was an intense game. I just told him, ‘You got a problem.’ There is no point in talking here. It’s a basketball game at the end of the day.”
“It’s not like we are going to fight on the court. How many fights have you seen happen on the court, the way they control it? It’s a waste of time. At the end of the day, he’s a great player and great talent. Things that he has done in the league have been pretty special,” Randolph added.
The 28-year-old American big guy and former no. 14 NBA Draft Pick also admitted, with a quite refreshing honesty, that the reason he joined the Slovenian national team had to do with certain perks that came with it.
Per The Undefeated:
” – Why did you want to play for Slovenia?
– Luka Doncic is Slovenian. So is Goran. My agent, Rade [Filipovich], he represents all three of us. I did it to help get more exposure by playing alongside Luca and Goran in a major tournament against the best players in Europe and some of the best stars in the NBA.
– What were your first thoughts when the Slovenia offer was given to you?
– My initial thought was no. When you think about playing for a country, you want to play for the country you’re from. It’s a country that you have a stake in. You want it to be something special. I met with [Slovenia Basketball Association secretary general and former NBA player] Rasho Nesterovic, Goran Dragic, Rade, [my Spanish agent Enrique Villalobos] here in Madrid in May. They told me their plan of being the missing gap to their team and if I came we would have a chance to win the medal. I talked it over with my team, and we decided it was the best thing to do in order to get exposure and develop as a basketball player.
– What did your wife, family, and friends back home think about you playing for Slovenia?
– They thought it was a great idea to be able to play on a big stage with a team that hasn’t really accomplished much in the tournament and be able to play against big names Porzingis, the Gasol brothers and [Juan and Willy] Hernangomez and all those great players.
– There is an assumption you got paid to play for Slovenia. True?
– No, I wasn’t.
– So why did you do it?
– For the exposure and the benefits of having an EU [Europe Union] passport.
– What benefits come with having an EU passport?
– It gives Real Madrid the option of bringing on another American player, which can be the difference in winning championships. It also makes it a lot easier for me to get a job overseas as I get older. I can play as long as I possibly can on high-level teams.”