It appears Lauri Markkanen is preparing to enter his mandatory military service in Finland. He posted a picture on his Instagram showing that he cut all his hair today.
Ramona Shelburne, who reported on this recently, tweeted that this was in preparation for military service.
According to Shelburne:
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.
With Markkanen cutting his hair now, it appears he may be entering on April 17? That’s obviously all conjecture based on what he’s posting on Instagram, but it would be nice to see Markkanen entering as early as possible so that he can finish his service. With the requirement being 6 months, it can be tricky for Finnish professional athletes to get this done.
This isn’t the first time a Finnish athlete will perform these services, Finnish Hocky players have had to do this before as well in the offseason. Chris Johnston at Sportsnet wrote a great piece on Finnish Hockey players and how they perform their military service. From his article:
The only advantage enjoyed by athletes over civilians is more flexibility in completing their service. It can be split up over multiple years and days off are permitted to assist with training and other needs specific to an athlete’s career.
But they aren’t otherwise pampered.
They sleep in a large barracks – “You’ve got like 20 guys in the same room,” said Toronto Maple Leafs winger Leo Komarov. “It’s like what you watch in movies” – and are kept to strict schedules and routines. Athletes are typically trained in reconnaissance duties and spend time camping in the forest.
Only Markkanen knows exactly how he will completely fulfill this process, but it is likely going to be over a few offseasons. Once finished, he’ll be able to get back to a regular offseason. Markkanen will be allowed to end his training at some point this offseason so he can prepare for the upcoming Utah Jazz season, it’s just not clear when.
It’s an impressive thing for Markkanen to be willing to perform his service, and you can only wish him the best as he begins his service.