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When Pero Antić steps onto the court on October 30 for the Hawks’ season opener, he’ll become the first Macedonian to play in the NBA. It’s an overdue feat, both for Antić and hoops-mad Macedonia, but sooner or later a big man from this tiny Balkan country was destined to make the leap. Macedonian, after all, comes from the ancient Greek word Makedones—“the tall ones.”
I managed to live in Indiana for more than six years and never touch a basketball. That’s not a boast, just evidence of how scarred I still am from wasting all those Friday nights on the bench watching the other six members of the St. Elizabeth Junior High team rotate in and out of the game.
Yet to those who root for pro sports (and, I hope, those who play them) the night felt unmistakably like a consolation prize. We were told repeatedly how lucky we are to be here in this world-class sports town. We were reminded that the New York media was against us. We were so showered with love and self-serving praise that you almost expected, say, a Boston sports fan to leave behind his seven titles in the last twelve years so he could come down and buy season tickets to half-empty Turner Field.