An eleven year veteran of the NBA, Mike James has accomplished quite a bit over the course of his career. Winning an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004, and averaging twenty-plus points for the Toronto Raptors during the 2005-06 season stand high among his accomplishments to date.
But also high on that list, however, is something James managed to do while not winning a trophy or logging a specific statistic to show for. Instead, he successfully took the road far less traveled to make it back into The Association after a short absence.
After being waived by the Wizards during the 2009-10 season, James ventured overseas for a bit before making his way back to the states in hopes of catching on with an NBA team again. Much to his dismay, however, big league executives weren't as receptive to the veteran guard as one may have thought them to have been.
To prove he still had what it takes to compete, James rather gracefully hit the NBADL hardwood for the Erie BayHawks in January of 2012. Catching on right as the D-League Showcase began, James had the opportunity to strut his stuff for the slew of NBA executives in town. Taking the entire league by storm, the guard averaged 21.1 points (on 48% from the field and 44% from deep) and 4.6 assists as a BayHawk. To put it simply, he dominated.
Though the BayHawks are in fact the minor league affiliate of James' hometown New York Knicks, he instead caught on with the Chicago Bulls after seven games in the D-League. It was in The Windy City that James became comfortable, playing in 11 regular season games and even having a small postseason role as he helped fill in for Derrick Rose and the team's other injured floor generals.
Such success didn't translate into another gig with the Bulls (at least not yet, anyway). Upon ringing in the new year of 2013, James was forced to don an NBADL jersey yet again during the league's showcase. That said, his second minor league stint was a much shorter one. After watching him average 18.5 points through two games for the affiliated Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks decided they had seen enough during his tryout of sorts. They snatched him right up.
James went on to play a key role for Dallas this past season, averaging 6.1 points and 3.1 assists through 45 contests (23 starts) while playing close to his home of Houston.
With a new basketball season approaching, James will actually return to Chicago and spend training camp with the Bulls. But he, like many other D-League alumni (the guard isn't quite like just any other, to be fair) will have to prove he deserves a spot on the roster.
Though thus far, all James has received is a simple training camp invite, it does mark the first time he'll start the (basketball) year with an NBA team since 2009. That alone, is an accomplishment and a positive, nonetheless.
Having said that, after all that he's been through as of late, James is clearly no stranger to having to prove himself yet again and again. He's not one to complain about it, either. Instead, the veteran guard of eleven NBA years will go to work this fall just as if he were a 19 year old rookie. The ongoing grind continues, but James isn't above getting down and dirty to continuously prove he still belongs.