SLAMonline calls up its latest player blogger.
by Kevin Owens
Just like the day after Thanksgiving, my dreams of Turkey have passed…I’m sorry; maybe I should explain this to the new horde of people who are now following my story. Let’s start with this…My name is Kevin Owens and I am a professional basketball player. I currently write for my blog Waiting For Godunk, as well as for Hugging Harold Reynolds and this is my first day as part of the SLAMonline team. I have traveled the globe pursuing my dreams of playing pro ball. I have played for six years, successfully earning a living through this sport. But somewhere along the way, these dreams have become nightmares.
Recently I have been waiting for a team to sign me to a contract. Over the past year and change I have played professionally for only three months. I may be the only person you meet who has gone from playing for a spot with the Philadelphia 76ers, to waiting for 13 months.
Wow 13 months. My God, that looks a lot worse written out than it does in my head. The reason I have continued to pursue this career is because I love this game. The memories and experiences I have are second to none. That being said, I think I can sum up the overseas market best by a text message I recently received from my agent…”Tired of such unprofessional behavior.” I could not have said it any better myself.
So last Tuesday I received an offer from a team in Ankara, Turkey. I was told I would have to leave the following day. Usually that is how it works in this job. Once you receive the call, you have just a few hours to tie up your loose ends, say goodbye to your family and board a plane. Upon agreeing to this offer I went about packing and saying my goodbyes. (When you are married and own a house this process becomes much more difficult.)
I was told by my agent that I would hear back from them within a few hours. A few hours came and went. Quite a few more passed before I finally attempted to figure out what was going on. I was told we would hear a response from them in the morning. A response?!! A response to what?!! They were the ones who offered me a contract. Why would they have to mull over my agreement?
So I went to bed that night with my bags packed and my alarm set in case I was told to print out my travel itinerary and get to the airport ASAP the following morning. But that never happened. Like a bad date, I tried to contact them the following day, but received no response. After a few days of this game I finally got the hint…that they must have retracted the offer. I felt like Mikey from Swingers. If international calls weren’t so expensive, I would have filled their answering machine with dozens of sobbing pathetic messages begging them to reconsider.
This unfortunately is not uncommon in the European game. I wish I could say this was the first time it happened to me this year, but I’d be lying. In October a team from Sweden did the same thing. Sent me an offer, told me I had to leave immediately, then stopped responding to my agent or my inquiries.
Although…maybe this isn’t a common occurrence. To me this seems par for the course, but for another pro basketball player they may be shocked to read this. Maybe I am just too gullible. Maybe I look like an easy “mark.” I don’t remember anyone ever standing next to me with an “I’m With Stupid” t-shirt on, but honestly…how else can you explain it?
So that is my current life in a nutshell. I workout every day in hopes that I will be summoned by one of the endless rabble of teams in the overseas market. I keep my bags packed and my ear to the ground, constantly checking Eurobasket, looking for a team that needs a 7-footer to step in and dominate for the remainder of the season. Currently I am using all contacts I have to land a job this year. It is my final push to reclaim the title of “working athlete.” Hopefully this story will have a happy ending. Hopefully Disney will pick it up for a heart warming film starring a large handsome actor. But for now like the last few months….I wait.
Kevin Owens is a veteran of overseas professional basketball. His career has spanned over six years and four continents. With a degree in journalism, Owens writes for the blogs Waiting For Godunk and Hugging Harold Reynolds. You can also catch him on Twitter @Waiting4Godunk.