Saturday, September 22, 2012

What's Different & Pre-Season Funnies

Okay now with the intro out of the way which you can find on the next page, I can now start the stories, lessons, etc so here we go...

What's Different in Euroland & Nederville...


Most of everything I've needed to buy so far seems more expensive.  A few basic reasons for this include the fact that EU labor laws tend to increase costs of running a business (i.e. restaurants), taxes are higher (i.e. gas prices) and the fact that the distribution and retail chains are slightly smaller (i.e. U.S. has Costco, Europe doesn't) . As much as I would love to go into further detail as to why this is, I am no longer in school so I feel no rush to do so!


Ahhh yes censorship...As you can imagine Europe is full of many many languages, cultures, and policies. What makes Europe so different from the U.S. regarding censorship or lack thereof? In Europe, everything goes... nude beaches, "late night" movies, distracting billboards, and the occasional cursing in your favorite american TV show. Now you may not see this everyday, but even Stewie Griffin blurting out "f*** you vile woman" to Lois is enough to catch you off guard!

(Well put Seth MacFarlane, lighten up FCC. New Episodes beginning September 30th, yea buddy!)

Going to the Movies

So I was enjoying the new Batman movie for the 2nd time a couple weeks ago and about 80mins into the movie, right as Bane is about to announce that he was born in the dark and Batman merely adopted it...the lights come on and a big 'PAUZE' goes across the screen. Apparently it was time for a bathroom break for everyone in the theater or intermission. Despite the spectacular timing of the intermission, my bladder sent the theater a thank you letter after the movie as I had definitely had too much water that day!


'Nuff said... Heaps of bikes everywhere! One thing that has been difficult to get used to is that when you are turning into traffic or in or out of a round-about, you need to look in damn near every direction as you might run a biker over. They don't look to see if a car is coming from behind or to the side, they just keep riding like there is a pot of gold where ever they are headed. On a more serious note, I wish more people in the U.S. and myself would use bikes to go to a friends house or even go to work! 

Also, nearly every motor vehicle over here is a stick shift. Another reason to thank my parents who taught me to drive a manual from day 1. It was funny to see Mark and Storm (my 2 fellow American teammates) learn or re-learn how to drive stick again! 

Also, one of my dutch teammates Jerome is finally getting his license and it is unreal how long and expensive the process is to be able to attain a license here in Europe. You must take more than double the classes and drives and must pay more per class as well. 


18 years old. I don't know if this is better or worse than our 21 but it is interesting to see how the culture of drinking in Europe is different than the U.S., especially when one is in high school or "having their first drink." In my experience, I have seen far too many instances of U.S. teens who go off to college and end up paying a heavy hospital bill at 2am in the morning because they don't know how to handle their alcohol. Growing up with a European momma and having spoken with other parents, it is interesting to see the correlation between freshmen college students who can't quite survive syllabus week and parents who don't properly introduce alcohol into a teenager's lives. 

I believe the Europeans nail this balance between properly introducing alcohol to teenagers in a controlled environment while educating them on the dangers of alcohol. This becomes even more important when driving enters into the equation, but that is another topic for another time!


Skinny jeans, loafers, sweaters, vests, v-necks, and the occasional celebratory Dutch clogs. While the fashion is different here, I prefer it to most of the U.S. as people here definitely know how to dress and more importantly know how to dress with what they have!

Supposed Lack of Police in Den Helder

I have been living here for a little more than a month and in that time I have only seen a baby's handful of police officers and cars around town. For those who know how quickly I like to drive, I think it's safe to say that this is a good thing. [SIDE NOTE: I'll look up and see 100 on the dash and take my foot off the gas only to realize I'm only doing 60mph. Hence, the metric system over here at least makes me think I am going faster than I really am which slows me down a little!] 

(Volkswagen Up! Too bad it's a front wheel drive, no doughnuts!)

Basketball Practice

At SCU in the fall, we would usually practice for around 3 hours and given your class/work schedule you might stick around for an extra lift, shooting workout or film session. In Den Helder, we are practicing for 2 hours twice a day and we might also have lifting 3 times per week as well. My body might have been able to handle this had we not have been forced to practice on a bad floor (the Slenk!) for 2 weeks. Most of my teammates are getting on okay with this schedule but seeing that my knees have been aging five-fold for every year since high school, I had to stay out of practice for 2-3 weeks as my favorite knee-tendonitis had returned. Thankfully, it is slowly subsiding which is a good sign in addition to the fact that we are finally at our home gym (with a good floor). 

As for practice itself, a lot of the drills, competitions and routines have remained the same. We are a young team so have been working on our offensive and defensive principles and sets a bunch. We are also practicing with some of the guys on the U20 national team as we only have 9 guys on our roster, 4 of which, including myself have been out because of injury. Slowly but surely we are starting to become a team who knows each others tendencies, strengths and weaknesses and can hopefully get to winning come October 6th!

Quick Funnies & Experiences

Sniper in the building

We have had some funny fails or instances of people falling flat on their face over the last couple weeks. First we had my agent's young son "fall" flat on his face! I use " " as someone on our team may have tripped him...I don't remember who, I...uh... blacked out and don't remember! This little incident had everyone including our coach dying laughing. Ah yes laughing at someone else's expense...classic!

The second incident we had was during practice the 2nd week while we were doing a 1 on 1 close-out drill. Storm caught the ball at the top of the key with me guarding him and proceeded to slip and lose his footing twice doing the exact same move within the span of 2 seconds...needless to say that he didn't get up again to try the same move! That image will forever be remembered!

Foreign Gangster Accents

Because everyone loves hearing someone speak U.S. slang or rap to a song in a foreign accent.


Winning poker in Europe against my teammates is even sweeter considering that when everyone buys in for an even 5 or 10 Euros instead of $5-10, so I am now, in theory, 1.3x "richer"  ... as of last Friday!! 

Thanks for reading and I'll keep the updates coming.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Introduction to Euro Ball

For my 1st euro-log post, I'm going to intro you to how I get here. If you know the story, just skip this one as I am mostly doing this to help me get started as everyone knows Intro's are the hardest part to anything in life, especially writing...

How playing a sport professionally usually comes aboooot vs. my experience

From an athlete's POV, the ideal routine of doing this is for an agent to contact you after your last collegiate game in hopes that he can represent you and help you land a job playing professionally. For me, this could not have been more different despite coming off another career year starting every practice as a member of the prestigious Gold Squad scout team. Shoutout to Nasty, Prodigy, Gambit, Hypes, & Scott er Nick Lamson. Needless to say that per 40minutes of playing time, we all would have averaged a good 20pts and 10 of some statistical category per game... for me that would be shots 2 steps behind the NBA 3pt line!

I digress...thankfully I made contact with an agent who is well connected in the Dutch league. The reason for why I wanted to play here, is well...I had no choice given the fact that this was the only country I could realistically have an opportunity of playing as I have a Dutch passport and don't count as an "import" (thank you momma, always knew that it would come to good use!). An "import" player is simply someone who is not a citizen of the country where you are playing in. Each league has rules on how many "imports" each team can have. Anyway, after months of deliberation, I finally got word that a new team was entering the Eredivisie (1st division) in the Dutch league and was interested in having me over to try-out. So in the middle of my back-packing trip with my sister, Nicoline, and a friend, Amelia, I jumped on a plane and headed back for Holland.

Shortly after the try-out, I had a pretty good feeling that I would get a call or email in the next 2 weeks asking me to come back for another try-out or practice.What I didn't expect was that 2 days later, I would be sitting in a Hostel in Salzburg, Austria recieving an email with the subject line: "Contract Offer: Den Helder Kings." After several months of arduous email exchanges I had finally landed my dream job.

[SIDE NOTE: Specifically my contract was fairly typical in that the team provides you with an appartment, utilities, internet, a car, gear, healthcare insurance, some food allowance and they pay for your taxes. So since all of that is included in the contract, the money they do pay you on top of that is simply net income. If only they did this in the corporate world!]

After hearing the good news, I immediately called home to tell mom and dad and shot out a quick FB post reporting that I was no longer unemployed. 168 likes, several emails, and a fantastic couple weeks later I was sitting in my new apartment with my new teammate Max (from Amsterdam). Below is short vid of our appartment.

Jetlag and an annoying sinus infection made my first 3 days not very welcoming as I got a combined 5-6 hours of sleep and somehow managed to survive 3-4 workouts per day. Each morning for the first 2 weeks we started with a 45 minute run at 6am. The only thing that was missing was Denzel Washington banging on my door yelling "Wake up Gentleman, it's late!" (Name that movie!) After the morning yog, we had "fitness" or lifting as Amurrrika calls it, for an hour and then "shooting" (basically a practice) for another hour or two. Later that evening we would have another practice for 2-3 hours...this is the definition of 'the grind.'

The facility called Den Helder Sportcenter is where we practice and play. Lucky for us, the facility also doubles as a Spa,Wellness and Fitness Center which means we get to use the Sauna's, hot-tubs, steam-showers, and no joke a small tank where you can put your feet/hands in for small fish to pick off your dead skin! Weird and disgusting! Below is our home court.

Our first pre-season game was the Tuesday of the 2nd week of training against Groningen which will be one of the top teams this year. Despite the fact that we were banged up and without our 2 "import" American players, we played Groningen close only to lose by single digits. I played well, logging a full 35 minutes which  was damn near as many minutes as I played in my entire career at Santa Clara. ...Oh! and I finally recorded my first dunk in a game...weird I know!

A few days later we were told we couldn't practice in the Sportcenter as it was undergoing some issues with the city regarding fire and safety hazards considering it hadn't been used in 3 years. So for the first 2 weeks we had to practice in by far one of the greatest gyms of all time...

(Sounds like the place where prison inmates get sent if they punch a guard!)

So we were sentenced to two weeks in the Slenk! This gym came complimentary with a stone floor and hoops that could not be dunked on as they would break. No 360 windmills anymore...damnit! Eventually the inevitable knees nearly snapped in half and I had to sit out for two weeks!

We are now trying to get healthy again after the Slenk destroyed our legs. Our first game is October 6th against Leiden and in a few weeks I'll be sure to have another post...I'm thinking about highlighting what's different from living abroad vs. living in the US and what I've been doing in my spare time...

Love and miss everyone back home and looking forward to a good start to the season!! I'll be sure to post videos and photos along the way!