As an NBA veteran (not to mention, a former multi-time all-star and past M.V.P.) like Allen Iverson pondered a stint in the D-League this week, it's easy to understand how such a signing may make things difficult for basketball's most promising up and coming prospects.
Already fighting for their chance to get noticed by big league executives amongst a bevy of fellow young gun counterparts, it can't be preferable to do that while potentially playing second fiddle to a more notable vet who is out seeking redemption.
The NBADL has a slew of benefits for young talents, but the fact is that while many will try to do enough to break into The Association, only a special few truly succeed. When considering playing in a league filled with different politics, tough competition, and lower earnings, some opt to venture overseas for a chance to strut their stuff as well.
For a player like Larry Gordon, such a decision makes sense. In addition to having the opportunity to earn a more lucrative payday, the 25 year old is receiving international fandom as he plays in the Beko BBL in Germany. What's more, he's able to hit the hardwood with a relaxed mindset, knowing full well he has a place to play from week to week.
"It's good," Gordon told RidiculousUpside.com of his situation. "I know how hard it is to get into the NBA. But I do cherish being a professional basketball player overseas. Germany itself is a great country to be in. I've been playing overseas for four years now, and this is the third country I've played in. But this is by far the best place--- league-wise, competition-wise, and country-wise. It's different than being back in the states, but your love and passion for the game is what keeps you motivated to keep playing."
But make no mistake, Gordon is by no means content with standing pat without regard to improvement. He's keeping his options open for what may be next. The guard's road to this point has been an interesting one, as he's proven to be versatile while adjusting to different roles and various positions depending on where he plays. Addressing his skill-set, Gordon said, "I've been bouncing around in different positions since college, but that's allowed me to work on different aspects of my game. I like to work on being able to post up as a guard, because I played power forward in college a little bit. Embracing being more of a guard now, I've really developed my dribbling and passing. I believe I have an all-around skill-set for a guard. As far as the NBA game, I'm not sure where skills would be useful, but if the opportunity presented itself, I would be able to fit into any system."
As it just so happens, with a little of that pressure off of him, Gordon is reaping the benefits of being in Germany. The guard isn't just playing there. Instead, he says he's been able to thrive with ease. The 25 year old added, "It's tough because there are a lot of good players at my position, but I've pretty much dominated so far. I guard a lot of very good players, but there's no one that I can really say has dominated the position." Gordon said that among others, he's matched up against former NBA sharpshooter Casey Jacobsen.
Speaking of displaying a versatile effort of sorts, Gordon emerged as the Beko BBL's lone All-Star to receive an invitation to both the league's Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Contest too. When addressing the accomplishment, the guard said, "I had a feeling I was going to get asked to do the Dunk Contest, so that's what I was setting out to win. But then I got a call a couple weeks before the All-Star Game and was told I was going to be in the Three-Point Contest too because of my percentages. I was kind of shocked, because I'm not a pure shooter. I can still do it though. I was surprised, but once I got there, it was all excitement and adrenaline. Regardless of who I was competing against, I really enjoyed the atmosphere. I'd like the chance to do that again throughout my career."
A Cal Poly Pomona alum, at 6'5" and 215 pounds, Gordon is a combo guard filled with explosiveness. His aggressive nature helps him attack (and get to) the basket quite efficiently. The overseas veteran praised his representation, (Scorers 1st), adding that they've constantly shown support by putting him in the right spots to succeed, be it on or off the court.
The NBA D-League may indeed still be the quickest way to The Association, but should Gordon continue to develop and realize success, he's sure to turn the heads of scouts overseas as well. If he continues to build on his already impressive campaign, perhaps stateside curiosity regarding the guard will grow even more.
When pondering a potential NBA future of his own, Gordon compared his style of play to that of quite the notable big league star. Gordon said, "I've thought about it a couple times. For my size, I've never been much of a point guard, rather more of a two-guard. Because of the energy I bring, I try and base the way I play off of what Russell Westbrook does. He's a small point guard, but he brings energy and athleticism each time he plays. That's what I like to do. I know I can play either point or shooting guard, but it's just about playing a position where I can excel. That's just the way it is. I'm a guy who can learn and be taught to the point where it'll make my game better."
NBADL athletes may be forced to make a name for themselves while fighting tooth and nail for a shot in the NBA. For a player like Larry Gordon, creating his own unique path towards whatever his basketball journey holds for him is coming easy because of his ability to stand out overseas.