Though the NBA D-League Showcase often features some of the league's most promising young guns, it's still always interesting to see which past big league veterans may be hanging around in the minors as they crave another shot in The Association.
Coincidentally enough, although the Showcase is obviously the best chance to get noticed, the veterans donning NBADL uniforms are harder to find than expected. The likes of Troy Hudson and Luther Head are sidelined with respective injuries, and after playing in just two minor league games, Mike James quickly netted a ten-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
While three of the more notable veteran names aren't strutting their stuff, younger minor leaguers have to look no further than Ronald Dupree's way for guidance and inspiration.
Still just 31 years old, Dupree's basketball grind has so far stretched over nearly a decade now, with the swingman donning a uniform for eleven different professional teams. From the NBA to the D-League, then to overseas and back again, Dupree's journey has taken him all over the world.
But just in time for the 2013 NBADL Showcase, Dupree has decided to give the minor league system another try. With so many NBA executives floating around waiting to be impressed, the journeyman's new opportunity is right here for the taking.
So far, in three contests, Dupree has made versatile contributions. Logging 12 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 assists, the veteran provided the L.A. D-Fenders with a boost off the bench and helped his new team earn a 87-82 victory over the Iowa Energy during day two of the Showcase.
As he continues to get used to playing in the D-League once again, Dupree chatted with RidiculousUpside.com for an exclusive Q&A. What are some of his motivations for coming back and giving breaking into The Association another shot? Read on below to find out.
Q: Ronald, you're back in the D-League for the first time since 2010-11. I know you were most recently playing overseas, so what would you say is behind the decision to return to the NBADL in time for the Showcase?
A: Well, I was with the Memphis Grizzlies for training camp this past fall. I was the last cut there, but I felt really good about my game. They actually still have two roster spots open. I have a desire to finish my career in the NBA. That's my goal. I've patiently waited for that. I didn't want to go overseas, because I have a daughter on the way that's due later this year. I figured I'd come back to the D-League and give it another shot.
Q: Congratulations. I was going to ask what your biggest motivation might be, but a baby on the way seems pretty substantial.
A: Absolutely. I just know I started my career in the NBA, and I'd like to finish it that way. I've had some bad breaks along the way, but I've always felt as though I was a roster spot away from making it. It's a numbers game. If you stay persistent, things will eventually go your way. A broken clock is right at least two times per day.
Q: Obviously you've been on an NBA grind for quite a while now. As a veteran of sorts, do some of the younger guys approach you here looking for advice?
A: Well, I like to talk to everybody, no matter what team they're on. I know a lot of guys from just being around this league. My thing is always that you want to set goals for yourself, write them down, and then go about achieving them. There's a mental battle in the professional ranks. You get so many set backs and unfortunate situations. That's just the business. You have to stay tough and believe in yourself.
Q: Right on. So as you look back at your own longevity, which past accomplishments of yours do you lean on for motivation with regard to fighting for another shot at achieving something similar once more?
A: I enjoyed my years with the Detroit Pistons (2004-05 & 2006-07) because we made great runs with some very good teams. My rookie year in Chicago was fun (2003-04). Though we weren't that good, I was able to play a lot. My first game there I had about 18 points and 8 or 9 rebounds. Just to make the NBA was great, because that was my lifelong goal. The Bulls were my favorite team growing up. Going to Detroit though, I was able to go to the NBA Finals, so that right there was a special moment too.