The life of a professional basketball player can be a cruel one at times. A few bad shooting nights and Whammy! you are back at home chilling thinking about what is the next move in your career. Hopefully your agent has a few backup plans or he might be on the hot seat or youâll find another to replace him in his seat.
In this business you really have to look out for yourself because there are very few people who care about you. Yes, you may have a great relationship with your agent but at the end of the day it is still a business and in order to succeed in this business you have to look out for your very own behind. As an American you are not expected to come over and be just a role player. If you have any intentions of making a career you need to make plays and score the ball. Bill Russell says it best "this game has always been, and will always be, about buckets."
One of my teammates was recently released from the team because we had signed Bracey Wright. Bracey is a former Hoosier and was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves (don’t worry I reminded him of the streak). My friend and teammate who was released did nothing wrong and was a true professional but Bracey just so happens to be a "blue chip" guy and my team sees a great opportunity to win a Eurocup and Israeli championship. They are putting their best foot forward and spending the money to bring in another big-time playmaker. My teammate got recruited over, but it just happened in the middle of the season instead of a year or two down the road.
Bringing in a guy like Bracey at this point in the season can affect a team in several different ways. Certain guys’ minutes are going to be reduced because they do not hand out shekels for a guy to sit on the bench, unless you are a rookie from Wisconsin with an opaque complexion but that is for another time.
Sometimes it can evoke jealousy and really mess with team chemistry depending on the team and the player coming in. The great thing about my team is we are a really tight-knit group that has bought into a true team concept. We have really quality people on this team and everyone pulls for one another. Guys have figured out their roles and we are winning games against some really good clubs that have a rich pedigree in Europe.
With one of my best friends on the team being cut it is a little weird for me getting used to the change that has occurred on the team. Who you partner with to get shots up after practice changes and depending on the player the vibe in the locker can change and has changed since my friend got released. This is not the first time this has happened this year and is commonplace in professional basketball overseas and in Israel especially. We are now starting to play teams in the Winners League and they have 2, 3, sometimes even 4 new guys who have left other teams from around Europe.
As far as pressure changing from the professional to the college game, I have yet to feel it. It might be because I have not received too many game opportunities or because I have worked with some great mentors who have helped me cope with dealing with some of the pressure. For me, I am truly enjoying the game and feel almost less pressure than I did when I was at Wisconsin. Probably because I never turn my TV on, I canât read anything that is in the newspaper and the Keyboard Gangsters stopped since jumping over the big olâ blue.
I know that one day I will be either released or have to jump ship and join a new team in a different country during the middle of the season. I hope to play for as long as my body holds up and someone is willing to pay me to go to the gym everyday. It has not happened yet but I have no idea what tomorrow could bring. This is the life I chose and I really do love everything from the good, bad, uncertain, and lonely moments that I have experienced 6,000 miles from home.
(Note:You can find the archive of Mike Bruesewitz’s Imported Bru stories and photo galleries here and listen to his latest podcast here.)