Utah Jazz Star Lauri Markkanen To Join Finnish Military

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Utah Jazz standout Lauri Markkanen has some unfinished business to tend to this offseason.

Markkanen, a newfound star in Utah after being traded by the Cleveland Cavs in the blockbuster Donovan Mitchell trade, told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that he would be traveling back to his home country of Finland this offseason to fulfill military service.

“It’s mandatory, we have to do it. At the same time, we take pride in it, too,” Markkanen, 25, told ESPN. “I think it sets an example to serve. And I’m confident I can do it in a way that it’s not going to affect my preparation for next season, either.”

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Markkanen Embraces Duty To Country (Respect!)

Finland requires mandatory military service for its male citizens. It’s not the first time we’ve seen an athlete or cultural figure in America return to their country to fulfill military service, but it’s always a neat occasion. People proudly representing their country … that’s almost unheard of here in the States in 2023.

Markkanen will report to a base in the southern part of Helsinki, per the report, once the Jazz’s season concludes (estimating between April and July).

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

“Lauri has always said he was going to do this,” said his longtime agent, Michael Lelchitski. “It’s important for him as a citizen to fulfill his civic duty and not have any kind of preferential treatment just because he is a famous athlete.”

The Finnish Big Man Is An Ascending Star

As a 7-foot shooter that’s comfortable from deep, Markkanen is an absolute threat on the court. Markkanen is averaging 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds this season for the Jazz. And his star is continuing to rise.

Fellow big man and teammate Kelly Olynyk commended Markkanen for embracing his mandatory military service.

Olynyk said, “Yeah, I mean, that’s something we’re not accustomed to here or in Canada.”

He added, “Lauri’s a stand-up citizen so he is going to do whatever he has to do to serve his country, and I commend him for that. A lot of guys here wouldn’t wouldn’t do it or would try to get out of it. I don’t really have another comment on that. It’s crazy to hear.”

(Photo by Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.

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