Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies last season.

24 Seconds presented by Ibotta: Jonas Valanciunas on his unique favorite sports, playing for Lithuania

New Orleans’ opponent tomorrow on Black Friday is a very familiar one for Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, who spent two-plus seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, highlighted by a playoff appearance in 2021 (he was also on the squad that participated in a play-in game vs. Portland in 2020). The starting center has plenty to be thankful for on this national holiday, including playing in his 11th NBA season and having the opportunity to suit for the Lithuanian national men’s basketball team many times in international competition:

Pelicans.com: What are your three favorite NBA road cities?

Valanciunas: New York, Miami, Los Angeles.

Pelicans.com: Three favorite sports besides basketball?

Valanciunas: Car racing, volleyball and power lifting. Something different, right?

Pelicans.com: Three favorite meals?

Valanciunas: Steak, pizza, pasta.

Pelicans.com: Three favorite movies?

Valanciunas: Home Alone, Police Academy, Titanic.

Pelicans.com: What stands out to you most about why you love basketball?

Valanciunas: For me it’s just winning those small battles. Getting the ball, blocking a shot, diving for the loose ball, just those small moments are what builds the game. The tough moments, pushing somebody sometimes (mentally). It gives me that drive and that’s the game for me.

Pelicans.com: You played for Lithuania again at EuroBasket last offseason. Why is that important to you?

Valanciunas: Playing for my country is a pride for me. I represent my country by playing basketball, that's my specialty. So I just feel pride to play for my country. It’s a small country, so as a small country we need to bring everybody together. And by playing basketball, that's what we do. I’ve always played for my national team and as I said, I feel pride for that.