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Old 02-22-07, 02:05 PM
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Beno Udrih, His Fans and MySpace

GLOBAL: Beno Udrih, His Fans and MySpace

http://www.hoopsworld.com/global/article_20927.shtml

Beno Udrih just might be the most accessible player with a championship ring. Championship rings dont make you busy, but agents and sponsors do. It has been three years since the Slovenian guard's custom-made Nike shoes touched an NBA floor in San Antonio for the first time, but other than a few extra pounds of muscle and a shiny silver earring, Beno is still the same.

While most other international NBA players from his part of the world were at an unofficial "All Stare" event in Miami hosted by a certain 7' Slovenian compatriot now with the Raptors, Beno was spending his third All-Star weekend signing an incredible number of autographs following a FedEx's basketball clinic. At $16, Jam Session was for casual fans the best way to meet NBA players that were in turn willing to take the time to meet with the fans. The way FedEx sees it, an international player has an interesting story to tell and is more than just another NBA player. And the way Beno sees it, those are exactly the fans he wants.

"I want to be accessible. It is good for the fans and it is good for the players, they will remember you and they will remember that you were a nice guy. Where I come from, it is really hard to approach people. Nobody will come up to us to say hello. It is very different here in the States, here they come up and want to hear your story."

So, what was Beno's story?

Beno is the youngest in his family, with an older brother Samo Udrih playing professionally in Europe. Beno's love of basketball came equal parts from his brother and father, and years later now with tables turned, Beno demonstrates basketball skills to those younger than him. Against the advice of NBA staff helping with the clinic, Beno started the clinic with the move his dad taught him in front of their house in Slovenia a decade ago. You couldn't even hear the ball bounce of the backboard; it was a simple layup but the kids were just too loud.

"I think it is good to come here because young kids like NBA players the most. I love kids and I always like to work with them, something fun to do in the middle of the season. This is my third year, but I love to come back to these clinics and I'd like to come back next year."

Truth be told, for many fans at the Mandalay Bay Hotel that afternoon, there was little difference between Beno Udrih and Ben Gordon, with fans undecided and unprepared for the NBA. Hopefully for a few hundred fans that has now changed: with a strong possibility of an NBA franchise coming to town in two years, Las Vegas fans could be an important untapped resource come future All-Star voting. In some ways, Beno is already ahead of the curve on Internet voting, beating out fellow San Antonio Spur Tony Parker 3 to 1 in comments posted on their respective MySpace pages.

"Some of my teammates at first made fun of me for doing MySpace, but now its OK. Even they started doing it. For me it started when I went home for the summer and wanted to stay in touch with my San Antonio friends. After that I got 'Friend' requests from so many fans and now we exchange messages and stay in touch. Its such an easy way to stay in touch with my fans. If I get a message, I really want to respond to them. Lately it has been tough, I can't keep up with all the messages."

Scene at the FedEx clinic was no different. It started innocent enough, kids that were in the clinic getting their shirts and caps signed. Then came their parents and when parents stand in line, other parents want in on it. There was no sign, there was no explanation, just a 6'3" backup guard from the San Antonio Spurs, signing autographs in a city that had not experienced anything like this before.

"Who is this, what's going on?", many asked while clumsily turning on their cameras with bags full of gifts flying around them.

Although the airport was far and his flight ever so nearer, Beno stayed and made sure that the question was answered. He stayed behind longer than most of the NBA supporting staff. The All-Star game was starting in a few hours at the Thomas and Mack Center across town. Fans that had tickets were already on their way as well. But those that stayed still got their money's worth.

"This was the best", said one of the kids from the clinic, holding a signed black cap that will not fit him for a few years. His blonde hair made him look a lot like young Beno. Around the corner there were plenty more kids and parents just like that, waiting for their chance to meet an NBA player. FedEx and NBA have many options when choosing whom to invite to the All-Star game, and third year in a row, Beno Udrih was a big success.
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Old 02-22-07, 02:15 PM
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Beno has fans??
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Old 02-22-07, 02:57 PM
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A possible Las Vegas NBA team in two years? That's rich.
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Old 02-22-07, 07:54 PM
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I got a petition on myspace about him. Some girl wanted everyone to sign a petition to make coach Pop keep Beno on the team. I don't believe she understands how the system works.....lol
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Old 02-22-07, 09:53 PM
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Beno? Is he still a Spur?
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Old 02-23-07, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highplainsspur View Post
Beno? Is he still a Spur?
Yes - he's the one at the end of the bench with the pine needles stuck in both sets of cheeks.
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Old 02-23-07, 10:08 AM
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so, even FedEx wasn't able to ship Beno to another city.
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