The Invisible Man
A Q+A with international baller Ryvon Covile.
by Carron J. Phillips
Most hoops fans aren’t familiar with the name Ryvon Covile, and he knows that. But the forward who plays for JSF Nanterre in Paris is doing what he loves, even though he admits that it is a grind that keeps him away from the states 10-11 months out of the year.
As the NBA Lockout has eclipsed more than 80 days, more role players have been inclined to look at playing overseas as a viable option while superstars like Kobe Bryant are getting wads of cash thrown at them just to show up.
But while players, owners and fans are growing more anxious by each passing day, Covile and other American players are the ones who may be affected by the lockout the most. The opportunity to come back home and play summer league ball is gone, and so is the chance to be brought in for a private workout. Roster spots and contracts that would have gone to them are now up in the air as foreign teams are hoping to save funds and room for someone from the NBA who is “better” than them and can fill up the arena while selling more merchandise.
SLAMonline caught up with Covile as he was finishing training camp for the upcoming season, and was able to get his take on how the NBA Lockout is affecting the entire basketball landscape.
SLAM: Coming out of college (University of Detroit Mercy), was playing ball overseas your only option, or did you pursue other avenues?
Ryvon Covile: My last year at U of D, I finished third in the nation in rebounding (13.7 ppg and 10.6 rpg) during the ’06-07 season. So I got invited to the pre-Draft camp in Orlando and did well too, so I was actually in the Draft in 2007 and had workouts and everything. But I was so far from the NBA radar that guys didn’t know who I was. But I wound up coming over here and played in Spain my first year and stayed over here ever since.
SLAM: Did you ever try to make an NBA team by way of the summer league?
RC: My first year out of school I played with the Cavaliers and then I played with the Pistons’ summer league team the following year. It’s difficult being on a summer league team because the guys who got drafted that year and the year before play in front of you and you’re pretty much playing third or fourth fiddle. So when you do play you have to perform and come in and do well. But as you get older and start to have a family you have to do what’s best for them.
SLAM: With that said, is the NBA Summer League still a good opportunity for guys to get their names out there?
RC: Yeah, any NBA workout is good for you. Whether it’s summer league or something else because it’s giving you the chance to show your face and letting people around the League know that you want it even after years of trying. It’s a good look, but at the same time it can get tough because of all the work you put in.
SLAM: What’s the best/worst part of playing ball overseas?
RC: The best part for some guys is the money because you’re getting paid for doing what you love. But for me it’s the opportunity to travel all over the world. Coming from Detroit I never thought I’d be playing overseas at all, so the chance of playing in all these legendary places like Russia, Italy, Paris, Moscow and Belgium is shocking. I’m living a life that most people would love to have.
The worst part is getting used to everything, like trying to get some ice after practice or a game. The food here can mess you up sometimes, but it’s just about adjusting and adapting to everything because when you’re here, you’re here.
SLAM: How are you and most of the American-born players feeling about members of the NBA coming overseas to play ball because of the lockout?
RC: It’s not like we’re mad, because we know that it’s a job in itself. But at the same time a lot of guys at home are still waiting on jobs. But it’s just kind of messed up that certain guys don’t have jobs at home because they’re just waiting to see what’s going to happen with the NBA. It’s difficult, but at the same time, we all have to deal with it.
SLAM: When your playing days are done, is coming home the No. 1 priority, or could you see yourself staying abroad?
RC: That’s a question mark because you start to think that maybe you could start your own business or coach over here. But right now it’s kind of up for grabs because I’m 27 and still kind of young and have a few more years to make a final decision.