Utah Jazz All-Star Lauri Markkanen is preparing to fulfill his military mandatory service in Finland during the offseason, he told ESPN. The Nordic nation requires all of its male citizens to complete such service before turning 30.
“It’s mandatory, we have to do it, but at the same time we take pride in it, too,” said Markkanen, who turns 26 in May. “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.”
With the Jazz likely to miss out on the NBA Play-In Tournament, Markkanen will report for basic training in Helsinki on April 17. Markkanen will be attending the Finnish Defence Forces’ Sports School, which provides training for “reconnaissance squads for emergency and wartime conditions.” Per the Defence Forces, “the length of the conscripts’ service period will be determined after the basic training phase, according to wartime-unit training obligations.”
Markkanen originally planned to fulfill his obligation while he was in college at the University of Arizona, but he instead made commitments to the Finnish national team that summer. He plans to take care of the required service were again put on hold last summer because the Cleveland Cavaliers reached the play-in stage.
This offseason, Markkanen finally looks set to get it done. He’ll hope to continue building on his breakout season while he’s there.
“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.”
Markkanen was traded to the Jazz last offseason in the blockbuster Donovan Mitchell trade and quickly became Utah’s best player. Through 66 games, he’s averaging career-highs with 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 49.9% shooting from the field. He’s also shooting from 39.1% from 3-point land.