MBFGC Update

I'm trying to find as much information as I can on this, but there's precious little.  Or at least, there's not much that I would consider completely reliable.

Citizen supac found this tidbit on the EuroBasket site last week.  

Just because it was previously written that Sofocles Schortsianitis (206-C-85) has been released from Olympiakos and he is now a free agent, we come back to correct this news and correctly inform our readers. So, briefly, after so many months absence from the fields, Olimpiakos decided to send Big Sofo to Switzerland in order to follow an appropriate program for him to lose all the weight that prevent him from playing and be therefore better fit to play. However, the player denied following what his team arranged for him, providing some doubtable reasons, and the Reds decided to stop his contact for the time needed. That doesn't mean, of course, that the player is now a free agent. Nevertheless, he is always a big "capital" for Olimpiakos, the team has already spent a lot on and for him, and no one at Piraeus would like to lose such a player, whenever certainly he will be able to play (if ever, unfortunately) again.

(Note that there are differences in the way his name is transliterated into the Latin Alphabet from the Greek.  I use Sofoklis Schortsanitis when I spell it out, but others spell it differently.  Which is one of the reasons why I more often call him Sofo or MBFGC.)

Now, obviously it goes without saying that there's no way an NBA team could stop paying a player without releasing said player.  But who knows what the hell goes on in Europe.

The BallInEurope blog told basically the same story on December 23.  This is the only place where I've see an actual weight referenced - over 150 kg, which is over 330 pounds.

Going back, here's what else you should know.

After breaking out on the world stage (parts of which we witnessed with our own eyes) during the 2006 World Championships in Japan, Sofo had a somewhat disappointing 06-07 season with Olympiacos.  He apparently ended that season overweight and injured (definitive information is hard to come by), and was then left off of the National Team roster for the European championships last summer.

When Olympiacos began training camp in late August, Sofo was left to 'train alone' whatever that means.  Since that training camp posting on August  30, there has not been a single word on Sofo on the official Olympiacos web site - not even with this latest incident.

The next day, August 31, there was a posting on Sofo's web site about his 'personal training program.'  At that time, according to the web site, he was achieving results in his training program and would join the team in three weeks.

Over four months later, he has not played a single minute this season.  I assume he has not been in uniform.  This is an incredibly bad sign.  Players this size often have trouble getting into shape unless they are playing.  It's a vicious cycle of being too out of shape to play, but not being able to get motivated enough to get into shape without playing.

He is listed on the Olympiacos roster on the official web site as well as on the EuroLeague site, but is NOT listed on the roster on the EuroBasket site, for what it's worth.

On October 23rd, Sofo posted about his come back.  There's precious little there - nothing about specific injuries, or his specific weight, or what his target weight might even be.  It's little more than a bunch of 'power of positive thinking' stuff that you might expect from the web site of a player who is sidelined because he's out of shape.

Finally, Sofo himself clearly disputes the story that the club is currently telling.  The latest posting on his web site, from Dec. 22, is titled, "I NEVER REFUSED TO GO TO SWITZERLAND" but unfortunately it is not (yet?) translated into English.  I tried BabelFish on the Greek, but didn't get much worthwhile in return.  I did get the gist - he's NOT HAPPY with Olympiacos and wants out.  

Any Greek speakers out there in ClipsNation?  Care to enlighten us on what Sofo is saying?

The Clippers are only too familiar with players who never fulfill their NBA promise due primarily to weight issues.  John 'Hot Plate' Williams (hey, someone added his recent coaching activity to my Wikipedia entry) and Stanley Roberts were both key contributors to the Clippers playoff teams of the early 90's who spent most of their careers dealing with their weight or related injuries.  Oliver Miller and Mike Sweetney also come to mind as players that have squandered NBA futures by eating too much.  Sadly, it seems entirely possible that MBFGC may be headed down the same path at the tender age of 21.

It's hard to know where this goes from here.  Olympiacos has invested some in his development, but European teams seem much more likely even than NBA teams to cut their losses and move on.  Jake Tsakalidis and Marc Jackson are both on the Olympiacos roster at this point, and neither one of them is even starting at center.  But the Reds hold Sofo's rights until 2010 after he signed a 4 year deal in 2006, and apparently feel justified to not pay him while also retaining those rights (for 30 more months? seems more than a little weird, even for the Greek league, right?)  At this point, it would be an extremely long shot that Sofo would be in a position to play for the Greek National Team in the Beijing Olympics, robbing us of a chance to watch him in action again this summer.

As for how this affects his future with the Clippers, who knows?  Given that Paul Davis had season-ending knee surgery yesterday, not to mention the team's myriad other injury woes, the Clippers would be incredibly interested in a young big man, RIGHT NOW.  But this one would seem to be TOO BIG at this point.  It's also unclear if there's any recourse currently.  Would Olympiacos accept a buy out of his contract mid-season?  Would FIBA and/or the EU even enforce the contract if Sofo were simply to move to LA given that the club has stopped paying him?  This much is clear - the kid himself has lots of incentive to get serious about getting in shape, and the Clippers have incentive to help him do it (after the disasters of Jaric and Korolev, the Clippers would look pretty lame if they went 0-3 drafting Euros while other teams are getting starters and all stars).  But their hands are pretty much tied as long as he is under contract to Olympiacos.

In this lost season for the Clippers, most of the things related to the team's future have nonetheless gone very, very well.  Chris Kaman has become a better player than any of us imagined he could be.  Elton Brand's rehab is on track.  Shuan Livingston's rehab is going better than expected.   And Al Thornton looks like a good pick.  But Paul Davis' injury, and this development with MBFGC, are decidedly bad news.

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