Big Game, Small World
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T W O : Lithuania
ALEX WOLFF & LIUDAS RIMKUSFor years, Arvydas Sabonis played center on the national team of this Baltic country of 3 million people. For many of those same years, Vitoldas Masalskis was Lithuania’s stalwart point guard. So, naturally enough, if Lithuanians wanted a big bottle of vodka, they’d ask the shopkeeper for "a Sabonis." If they wanted a small bottle, they’d ask for "a Masalskis." That’s only one of many examples of the hold basketball has had on this nation, even through the Nazi and Soviet occupations.

Since my visit, Sarunas Marciulionis’ Northern European Basketball League has gotten up and running. As for Liudas Rimkus, the aide to Sarunas who served as my guide and chauffeur, he’s pictured with the author here, moments after a game we caught together in a dingy gym in Klaipeda. Not visible: the hampster-run generator.

THREE: POLAND

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