Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008

54. J.R. Holden

Age: 31

Want more proof that the Cold War is over? Then savor a Black Russian. Yes, Russia's Olympic basketball fate is in the hands of an African-American point guard from Pittsburgh. Holden grew up in the Steel City and had a nice, though not astounding, college career at Bucknell. Not exactly a hoops haven. He bounced around Europe for awhile, playing pro ball in Latvia, Belgium and Greece, before catching with CSKA Moscow, the highly successful Russian club team. In 2003, Holden was named Russian Super League Player of the Year, and became a naturalized citizen of the former Evil Empire so he could play on its national team (he hadn't met the residency requirements, but the government granted Holden an exemption). Holden hit the winning shot of last year's European championship, as Russia shocked Spain for the title. So, is Holden an Olympic talent or traitor? Let the talks begin.