So, tonight is Polish Heritage Night at Verizon Center when the Wizards host the Pelicans. Like all of you, I want to see the Wizards defeat the Pelicans so all fans see Washington get their 17th straight home victory. But also, a win will also make things just a little sweeter for the Polish fans in attendance.
After the game, Wizards center (and Polish Machine) Marcin Gortat will greet fans for a Q&A with at least a couple celebrities in attendance.
Who are the other Polish celebrities that will be in attendance?
According to the Polish Embassy in Washington, Polish actress Alicja Bachleda-Curuś and UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk will be there.
Bachleda-Curuś is best known in America for her role in Trade, a 2007 drama about sex trafficking where she played a role as a Polish tourist who gets kidnapped into the sex trade. She was also in Ondine, a 2009 Irish film where played alongside Colin Farrell who she has a son with.
Jędrzejczyk is a 5’6, 115 llb UFC fighter who has an undefeated record (12-0) in professional MMA fighting. As a matter of fact, Jędrzejczyk is the consensus best female pound for pound fighter in the world. Though Marcin may be much bigger than her physically, she’s still his bodyguard.
Don’t let her friendly appearance fool you.
One wrong move with Jędrzejczyk may result in you not coming out in one piece!
Any Polish musicians in attendance for a postgame concert?
Not that I know of.
But Polish pop signer Mateusz Ziółko released “W płomieniach” (In Flames), which will get all the ladies swooning:
Ziółko won the “The Voice of Poland” in 2013, the Polish spinoff of “The Voice,” a Dutch-based talent show franchise where singers hope to hit it big. “The Voice” has multiple versions of the show besides its “home turf” in the Netherlands and Poland of course. The most popular version of “The Voice” is aired right here in the United States!
That said, I think the best singers are the coaches, not the contestants:
Alright, let’s get to some more factoids, in particular America’s relationship with Poland:
Some things on the relationship between Poland and the United States
The USA is the melting pot of the world. As you might expect, there are plenty of Polish Americans. In fact, 10 million Americans claim Polish ancestry — more than any other country in the world.
Most Polish immigration to American happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when they fled regions in current day Germany, Austria, and Russia to the United States for a better life. Ultimately, most of them stayed. There were subsequent immigration waves in post World War 2 and in the 1990’s when the Cold War ended.
Today is an important day for both Poles and Americans alike because it’s Tadeusz Kościuszko’s 271st birthday.
Kościuszko was a Polish-Lithuanian who served in the American Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He is credited for designing many of West Point’s fortresses, and planned the Battle of Saratoga. We will always remember George Washington of course, but Kościuszko was also a major part of the war himself.
We have many Polish Americans who influence our society and the list would be. As a basketball site, let’s first focus on those who are on the court:
Famous Polish Americans in basketball
The most famous Polish American in basketball is probably Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach of the Duke men’s basketball team where he won five national championships. He also led the USA Basketball men’s national team to three consecutive Gold Medals in the Olympics.
But the most famous Polish American in Wizards history is Mitch Kupchak. He played for Washington from 1976-1981 where he was part of the 1977-78 championship team as one of their key young players. Today, he’s better known as the GM of the Los Angeles Lakers, where he’s been since 2001.
Finally, let’s get to American Polish players — or American citizens who naturalized in Poland. A.J. Slaughter is the point guard of the Polish national basketball team. Slaughter part in their EuroBasket 2015 campaign and presumably will do so again this year.
Famous Polish Americans in music
I wish there would be a post game concert for whatever reason. So here’s a very short list of some Polish Americans who may be on your playlist.
John Rzeznik, guitarist and lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls
Ed and Adam Kowalewicz, singer and guitarist of Live, respectively.
Notable folks of Polish descent who don’t live in Poland or America
The Polish diaspora goes beyond Poland and the United States of course. Here are some other notable people in other countries who have Polish heritage.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Yes, her name may not give it away, but the German head of state’s paternal grandfather was Polish. Chancellor Merkel is far from the only Polish German out there. Since Germany is Poland’s western neighbor, it should be no surprise that 2 to 3 million Germans are of Polish descent. Given the countries’ shared history, Polish surnames aren’t uncommon to say the least.
Ewa Farna - Polish Czech singer
The Czech Republic borders Poland in its southwest. So it should be no surprise that there are plenty of Czechs who claim heritage in Poland. Farna is one of many Polish Czechs who’ve become quite popular, where she has a number of popular songs in both the Czech Republic and Poland. In fact, she sings in both languages.
This is one of her latest songs entitled “Všechno nebo nic” (All or Nothing). From what I could gather, it seems to be a theme song of a 2017 movie from Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Rumor has it that she plays nonstop on Tomas Satoransky’s smartphone and the Polish versions of her songs are on Gortat’s!
Mr. Polska - Polish Dutch rap/EDM artist
You’d think someone who uses the moniker “Mr. Polska” would be a proud Pole from Warsaw or Krakow. But ... you’re wrong.
Mr. Polska (full name: Dominik Włodzimierz Groot) is a rapper best known in the Netherlands and Belgium. He’s not well known in the USA because nearly all of his songs are in Dutch. But he has collaborated with other Dutch EDM artists who are well known here like Yellow Claw (who had a concert in D.C. LAST NIGHT) and Boaz van de Beatz. So, this is “Allermooiste Feestje” (Most Beautiful Party) with Yellow Claw, one of his older hits (Note: not everything’s PG):
He’s known for his erratic-yet-amsuing dancing, and for openly embracing his Polish heritage. Mr. Polska was born in Poland, but why is his last name Dutch? It’s because he adopted his stepfather’s last name when his mother moved to the Netherlands and married a Dutchman when he was a toddler.
Below is his latest song “Samen” (Together).
If you think Mr. Polska’s dancing and attire’s eccentric, I don’t blame you. But don’t give him too much shade because Emma Meesseman plays this guy non-stop in the Mystics locker room. And so do the Belgian national sports teams!
Alright, that’s enough rambling about Poland from me. Let’s get that 17th straight home win and keep this thing going!