Monday, July 28, 2014

A Basketball Journey by Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops

A Basketball Journey by Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops

Not every athlete and every basketball player has the luxury of being the best player on the team.  Sometimes, even for very skilled athletes, things don’t come easy.  Your confidence might be lacking, or your coach might not have found a way to use you to the best of your abilities.  You could get cut from a team, you could be coming off the bench, or you could be sitting on the end of the bench and being used mostly as a practice player.  Being ready, being a professional, and being ready to perform when called upon is key.  One of the starters might be in foul trouble, or there might be an injury.  That’s why it is important to continue to practice and continue to stay in shape so you can display your talents when called upon.  

In a professional league like the NBA, sometimes it’s easy to forget that not all of the players are superstars.  Yes, the majority of NBA players have been stars at some point in their basketball careers, but in a league where the playing field is balanced, they might be struggling to find their spot on the team.

Below, we are going to examine some NBA journeymen and detail their struggles trying to find a team suits their talents and skills.  

Kevin Ollie - Kevin Ollie is currently serving as the Head Coach at UConn.   Sometimes finding your greatest strength as a basketball player doesn’t happen until after you stop playing.  Kevin Ollie played for 11 teams in 13 years.  Kevin had a difficult time staying with an organization, but 
teams kept bringing him in because of his character and leadership skills which he is now implanting as a coach.  

Drew Gooden - Drew Gooden was a lottery pick who has played for 9 teams in 8 years.  He is a skilled big man who can shoot and rebound, but was never able to find a home.  Drew Gooden was recently signed to a young Washington Wizards roster who is in desperate need of veteran leadership.  Though Drew Gooden has played on so many teams, you have to admire how he has been able to learn so many different systems and be effective in each role.   

Darrell Armstrong - Darrell Armstrong has played in about every basketball league in the world including the CBA, USBL, GBA, and various leagues in Spain and Cyprus.  Darrell Armstrong was constantly told that he wasn’t quite good enough to make it in the NBA.  Darrell Armstrong stuck with it and kept working hard, and was eventually was signed by the Orlando Magic where he won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 1999.

These three players might not be rooted for like some of the stars in the NBA, and not too many fans might have purchased their jerseys over the years, but they should not be forgotten about or overlooked as individuals who believed in themselves at times when no one else would.  Their journeys show that there are a variety of different roles that you can fill on a basketball team and should remind young athletes to always be positive, be patient, and be ready.  

 Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people.  Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.  

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