Utah’s Lauri Markkanen to fulfill mandatory service in Finland

Utah's Lauri Markkanen to fulfill mandatory service in Finland

Utah Jazz All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen intends to fulfill his mandatory service in the Finnish military this offseason, he told ESPN.

Military service is mandatory for male citizens of Finland and must be completed by age 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.”

Markkanen has had a career season for the Jazz this year, averaging 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds, since being acquired in an offseason trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Depending on when Utah’s season ends, he’ll either report for his service April 17 or sometime in July. The base he is scheduled to report to is located in the southern part of Helsinki.

According to the Finnish Federation, “the main task of the Defence Forces’ Sports School is to train reconnaissance squads for emergency and wartime conditions.”

Many of the conscripts 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.”

Markkanen postponed his service while he was in college at the University of Arizona and when he had commitments to the Finnish national team. Last season he intended to serve, but the Cavaliers made the play-in tournament and that 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.”

Finland was accepted as a member of N.A.T.O this week amid increasing tension in Europe over Russia’s war in Ukraine. Utah (36-42) is currently 12th in the Western Conference, 1½ games out of the final spot in the play-in tournament.

This content was originally published here.

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