Lauri Markkanen, a forward for the Utah Jazz who is a member of the All-Star team, stated that he plans to complete the mandatory military service in Finland this offseason.
Male citizens of Finland are required to serve in the military and must complete it by the age of 30.
“It’s mandatory, we have to do it, but at the same time we take pride in it, too,” said Markkanen, 25. “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.”
Since being acquired by the Jazz in an offseason trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Markkanen has had a career year for the Jazz, averaging 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Contingent upon when Utah’s season closes, he’ll either report for his service on April 17 or at some point in July. The base he is scheduled to report to is situated in the southern part of Helsinki.
“The main task of the Defence Forces’ Sports School is to train reconnaissance squads for emergency and wartime conditions,” states the Finnish Federation.
A significant number of the recruits who serve at the school are high-level professional or amateur athletes.
“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.”
When Markkanen had commitments to the Finnish national team and was attending college at the University of Arizona, he postponed his service. He intended to serve last season, but the Cavaliers advanced to the play-in tournament, which conflicted with the reporting date.
“Of course I’d rather be working out like I normally do [in the offseason], but I’ve heard they do a good job of combining the two. You’re able to do your job working as an athlete and your basic training at the same time.”
This week, Finland was accepted into the N.A.T.O. amid rising tensions in Europe due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
With a record of 36-42, Utah is 12th in the Western Conference and 1½ games out of first place in the play-in tournament.