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Berry Tramel: Nenad Krstic's reputation takes a hit

General manager Sam Presti has discussed brawl with Thunder big man
by Berry Tramel Modified: August 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm •  Published: August 20, 2010

Nenad Krstic threw some punches, then threw a chair and finally threw away his anonymity.

Until Thursday, the Thunder center belonged to the Tall Europeans Club, that anonymous collection of players who are not Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James' sidekick (Z-man Zydrunas Ilgauskas) or Dwight Howard's backup (Martin Gortat).

Johan Petro, ZaZa Pachulia, Nikola Pekovic, Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Pavlovic, Primoz Brezec, Semih Erden, Kyrylo Fesenko, Oleksiy Pecherov, Krstic.

If you can tell those guys apart, you're an NBA junkie or one of them plays in your city.

Now Krstic is a household name on the hardwood, for his stupid acts in an exhibition tournament in Athens. When emotions flared during a game between the Greeks and Krstic's Serbs, Krstic lost his head.

He punched Greece's Sofoklis Schortsanitis several times in the back of the head while Schortsanitis slugged a fallen Serb. Then Krstic retreated like Carmelo Anthony, who four years ago popped a Knickerbocker then backpedaled like he'd turned into the wrong Baltimore alley.

Finally, Krstic threw a chair at Schortsanitis; it instead struck Ioannis Bourousis and caused a neck cut.

Thankfully, this didn't turn into Pacers-Pistons, but not for lack of trying.

And Krstic's reputation has some restoration to do.

Two days ago, he was a good-shooting, solid-rebounding, occasionally-acceptable-defending 7-footer. He wasn't an all-star, never going to be, but a solid player, so long as you don't expect him to log 32 minutes a game.

Now, justified or not, Krstic is known on both sides of the Atlantic as a cheap-shot goon.

One bad night in Greece shouldn't define a guy, but it certainly can. We know Krstic on the Oklahoma prairie as a soft-spoken, low-maintenance guy. Sometimes we wish he'd show the desire to bash a few heads.

When I think of Krstic, I think of our conversation last December, when he talked about the homesickness he feels, missing the holidays with his family back in Serbia. The Christmas Eve feast, the Christmas morning church service.

But international basketball can be a little more passionate than the NBA. The brawl is being investigated by Greece's sports violence squad. If you've got a sports violence bureau, these things have happened before.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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