2009 has been a good year for Marcin Gortat.
And it sounds as it will be getting better. Word is Gortat will be able to represent his country, Poland, as the hosts of the 2009 European Basketball Championships.
The tournament is being held in seven cities in Poland – Gdańsk, Poznan, Warszawa, Wroclaw, Bydgoszcz, Katowice, and Łódź, the city in which Gortat was born and raised.
The Polish Basketball Association are going through the final steps of bringing Gortat onto the Polish National Team, a team that includes Filip Dylewicz, former NBA player Maciej Lampe, Adam Wójcik, and naturalized guard David Logan of the United States.
Documents have been filed with the NBA asking permission and the organization has bought the requisite insurance policy, worth 55,000 złoty (18,500 USD), so Gortat can participate.
The last hurdle is David Stern’s permission, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem as every NBA player has to go through the commisioner before participating in non-NBA sactioned games.
“This is a standard procedure. [David] Stern signs the contract of every single player in the NBA.” says Filip Kenig, Gortat’s agent.
Poland has been placed in Group D, along with Lithuania, Turkey and Bulgaria.
The 2008-09 NBA Season
Coming into the season, Gortat was virtually unknown outside of Orlando and Poland, but the 6-11 center from Łódź, Poland had a breakout year with the Orlando Magic, backing up Dwight Howard.
Gortat, the 57th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, averaged career bests in his second season with the Magic – 3.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and nearly one block in just 12 minutes of play. Not great numbers, but Gortat’s basketball IQ, defense, and willingness to mix it up opened some eyes.
This was especially true during Orlando’s playoff run, Gortat received great exposure in the NBA Finals despite the Magic being defeated in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the offseason, the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks came after the “Polish Hammer,” who was a restricted free-agent. The Mavs eventually signed Gortat to an offer sheet worth $34 million over five years.
When Türkoğlu ended up signing with the Toronto Raptors, Orlando’s wallet suddenly had enough złoty to match Dallas’ offer, bringing Gortat back to central Florida.
Links and Resources: Gortat to play in Eurobasket 2009 (Polskie Radio), Just kidding Portland, Hedo signs with Toronto Raptors (Interbasket), Orlando looks to re-sign Hedo Türkoğlu, Marcin Gortat (Interbasket) (15)