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How cool is it that Lauri Markkanen (an NBA All-Star) is serving his country this offseason? (Phony Romo -- La Verkin, UT)

Markkanen joins a long list of professional athletes to serve their country in the middle of their careers.

The greatest hitter to ever live, Ted Williams, is perhaps my favorite example. Williams was a fighter pilot in World War II and in Korea. This was during his baseball prime and he was in combat. Remarkable!

Here's Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson who both served in World War II.

How about Dirk? Nowitzki served in the German military before he came to the NBA. A lot of country's a have mandatory tours of service in the armed forces like Germany and Finland in Markannen's case.

Here's Lauri showing off his new military cut:

I love this.

I think requiring sacrifice from young people probably helps to galvanize its citizens and enhances pride in one's country. Not to get all political but I think this is impressive.

Markkanen had a breakout season this year for the Jazz, made an all-star team, and is in the running for most improved player in the NBA:

At the end of the regular season Markkanen had the best odds of winning Most Improved Player, per covers.com:

The NBA odds now favor Lauri Markkanen, who's leveled up yet again to surpass former odds-on leader Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. See who else is among the NBA MIP contenders. (Full article)

TNT will announce winners throughout this week during their coverage of the NBA Playoffs.

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