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!

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