I long wondered who actually was the most popular player in the Euroleague. My methodology is not flawless. Maybe the number of sold jerseys would have made a nice little criteria. But since merchandising still has ways the go in Europe and I myself failed to buy a Ricky Rubio jersey for my brother this Christmas, I settled on the Facebook index. I compared the Top 100 Euroleague players by ranking and the best of the rest depending on the number of fans they had on their Facebook page (or group). The results were very surprising. I expected American players to be high on the list and Ricky Rubio a clear number 1. Well, see the results for yourselves.
10. Nikola Peković (Panathinaikos – Montenegro) – 10,023 fans
The best big man in Europe. Raised the Euroleague trophy for his first year with the Greens in 2009.
9. Nikos Zisis (Montepaschi Siena – Greece) – 10,911 fans
Once a promising young combo guard who faded into obscurity after a disappointing stint with CSKA Moscow. Still has the looks to attract a vastly feminine fanbase.
8. Novica Veličković (Real Madrid – Serbia) – 12,136 fans
The Euroleague Young Player of the Year last fall. His outstanding skillset makes him a basketball fan darling.
7. Ricky Rubio (FC Barcelona – Spain) – 12,263 fans
What? SEVENTH? Is Facebook banned in Spain or what?
6. Šarūnas Jasikevičius (Panathinaikos – Lithuania) – 12,268 fans
Seriously on the decline but still a killer in the money time.
5. Linas Kleiza (Olympiacos – Lithuania) – 15,342 fans
I still wonder why this talented guy is not playing in the NBA anymore. Made the transition to the Euroleague seem eaaaasy.
4. Milos Teodosić (Olympiacos – Serbia) 15,564 fans
Has Euroleague Young Player of the Year written all over him. An outrageously gifted point guard.
3. Vasileios Spanoulis (Panathinaikos – Greece) – 17,567 fans
The Final Four MVP last year. Plus he plays for one of the most popular clubs in Europe and represents an apparently very active Greek community on Facebook.
2. Erazem Lorbek (FC Barcelona – Slovenia) – 19,054 fans
Jaw-dropping. How this big man with soft hands managed to raise close to 20,000 fans on Facebook is a mystery to me. The guy must upload pictures of his girlfriend or something. I need to investigate on that.
1. Dimitris “The Octopus” Diamantidis (Panathinaikos – Greece) – 38,372 fans
The posterchild of the Euroleague, winner of all 5 Best Defender of the Year awards since its introduction in 2005, has twice more fans than his second. At first I found it amazing. Then I checked just for fun and realised Brian Scalabrine has 54,927 fans on Facebook.