With the new year comes the month of January, and with the month of January comes a world full of potential ten-day contracts for aspiring NBA prospects. The likes of Mike James and Jarvis Varnado are among those who have parlayed such short stints with big league teams into gigs for the rest of the season, and perhaps Shelvin Mack appears next.
As these talented athletes continue to achieve their dreams, former NBA training camp standout Brian Kortovich remains on the outside looking in as he keeps his own basketball dream alive.
But it isn't for a lack of trying. In addition to making quite the impression at a summer workout observed by a bevy of NBA executives, the sharpshooter has made the effort to continue following up with those he's connected with throughout the years while he angles for one more shot. What's more, Kortovich's offseason was also highlighted by his emergence as the only white player to lead the league at EBC Rucker Park during summer ball in scoring.
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Checking in with RidiculousUpside.com, Kortovich says, "I'm not where I want to be. I haven't yet gotten the opportunity that I want to play professionally, be it in the NBA or the D-League. It's not for a lack of effort. I've done what I've had to do and gone to both open and individual workouts. For me, it's about being consistent because I know over time, I'll get that break that I've been working hard and waiting for."
The guard added, "I'm cool with a lot NBA players, and when they're in town we hang and work out. You have to stay ready, because you never know when your time will come. I'm ready. I'm training everyday as though I could be ready to play tomorrow. I've been keeping up relationships with NBA executives too, because while of course I want to play at the top level some day, I'm also positioning myself to be able to stay in the game in some capacity. My passion is still in playing."
Keeping in touch and following through with some of the league's top decision makers ensures Kortovich that his name will continue to be remembered as it hopefully floats around as a possible option of someone to take a chance on. Among the array of others who have taken notice of the Big Apple transplant most recently is Celtics Assistant Coach (and former NBA player) Tyrone Lue.
The player turned coach can actually still be seen competing even though his playing days are over. It was in Las Vegas that Lue ran into Kortovich just last summer. Needless to say, whether it be from a coach or competitor's point of view, Lue was impressed. In a statement to RidiculousUpside.com, the former veteran said, "I met and played against Brian this past summer over at IMPACT in Vegas, where many NBA players come to train. I was impressed. He has a great understanding of the game, can handle the rock and can shoot it from anywhere. Put on top of that a great work ethic - this kid can play."
It should be noted that as he continues to put in the work necessary to make lasting impressions, Kortovich's inability to break in thus far should not be a concern. Having played professionally since 2006, the guard is mature and plays with sound fundamentals. There wouldn't be too much of a learning curve for Kortovich, as the likes of overseas veterans turned older NBA rookies like the Knicks' Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland have proven this season.
"I saw a guy like Copeland's age was similar and it just goes to show you that it's all about keeping yourself in shape," Kortovich added. "You can't put a price tag on the experiences I have. If I couldn't play or didn't have the talent, I wouldn't be doing this. I may be sacrificing other career opportunities, but I'm passion is in playing. It'd be great to get that NBA call after how hard I've been working."
Having participated in Knicks' training camp against the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton before, a player like Kortovich easily understands why the now veteran-heavy squad is having so much success this season. He also claims that being part of such a mature squad is exactly where he himself would thrive while fitting in seamlessly.
He said, "Talent is great, but looking at the NBA teams out there, chemistry is key. Talent plus chemistry is what's going to equal success. That's what every winning team's track record is about. If I were to get a call, I think I'd be able to fit in. I'm a positive guy-- someone who's always the first one in practice, and the last one out. For me, there's a mental aspect to things. You have to have talent, but if your mind isn't there, you won't perform like you should when called upon."
Clearly, staying ready and able to step right in when his team needs him if exactly the type of role Kortovich would play if and when he breaks in to The Association. As squads look to bolster their depth, they not only look for players who will push others in practice, but also those who they can trust with minutes when there are voids necessary to be filled. An international competition veteran, there's no doubt Kortovich would be able to handle that burden like a pro.
This season more than ever, NBA teams are utilizing their D-League affiliates as a tryout stage for potential hopefuls who look to make a contribution to a respective squad. Participating in workouts and going down to the NBADL to prove his worth is not something Kortovich is opposed to doing if it helps him get to the next level.
As he waits for a call, Kortovich has been staying at the top of his game by working out with players like former Rockets' guard Scott Machado, who just re-joined Houston's D-League affiliate.