BEN GORDAN PLAYING FOR GREAT BRITIAN AND EYEING A COMEBACK TO THE NBA
Gordon, 33, will suit up for Britain for the first time during qualifiers for Eurobasket 2017 next month. The 11-year NBA veteran hopes to help the British qualify for Europe’s biggest tournament while showing talent evaluators that he can still play at an elite level.
Gordon, who did not play last season after appearing in training camp with the Golden State Warriors, spoke recently with ESPN.com about his decision to suit up for Great Britain and his hopes to land back in the NBA.
The conversation with the veteran shooting guard has been edited for length:
Q: What are you looking forward to about suiting up for Great Britain in the Eurobasket qualifiers?
A: Just getting back into a competitive atmosphere like that. I was supposed to play a couple of different times throughout my career. But things always popped up in the summer. But there really hasn’t been a better time [than now] for me to play because I’m not with a team. It’s just an opportunity for me to get out there and finally play with Great Britain. I just look forward to that opportunity being that I’d never gotten that chance.
Q: Are you still looking for a chance to return to the NBA?
A: Yeah, definitely. I would definitely love to get back in the league after being out for a year. Just watching the way the game is being played, up and down. Obviously, the 3-point shot is always a big deal but it seems like just now, more than ever, that shot is being used more and more. So I feel like I can still play at a high level and shoot that 3-ball and add that kind of depth to a team that may be looking to fulfill that need. So yeah, I definitely have hopes of making a return with an NBA team or just playing period, wherever that may be.
A: I can still hit [the 3-point] shot with consistency. My shot hasn’t left me. I’m still a good shooter. That’s one of those skills that, you put so much time in over your career, after practice, before practice, that’s not something that leaves you easily. I’m still honing that skill. It’s still a very important part of the game obviously. It’s still something I love to do. So the shot is still there.
Q: What was last year like for you while you were waiting for another chance to play?
A: It was tough man, I was training. But it was the first time where I was training but it wasn’t for a team. I was training to stay in shape and waiting for a call from your agent to see what happens. It was very different. I went through a period when I was training and I took time off, and started training again. It was a long year. I did get a chance to spend more time with my family, so that was very rewarding. But I look forward to getting back on the court this year, hopefully it’s with an NBA team. If not, I have to see what my options are. But I definitely look forward to continuing my basketball career, to continue playing.
Q: How was being in camp with the Golden State Warriors?
A: Getting a chance to see how a team coming off a championship prepared, it was rather different. I think that their team in general had probably the best chemistry I’d ever seen. I know that might sound cliché on a championship team. But just to see how well all of those guys got along and how well their games complemented each other was really, really interesting. Also, just seeing how carefree they were, how much joy they practiced and played with every day. That was different as well. Just how effortless their practices were. That was different to see. I didn’t really know what to expect. It was kind of like a bunch of guys who played pick-up for years together and knew each others’ games really well and they just were coming out to compete. That was something that was cool to see.
Q: How are you feeling physically?
A: I feel pretty good, man. I feel
pretty good. I didn’t play last season, didn’t have a contract with anybody. After not playing last season and kind of getting back to the swing of things, I’m looking forward to this opportunity to just go out and play and have fun and play with some of those guys that I never got a chance to in Great Britain. So like I said, I feel good and I’m just looking forward to it.
Q: Do you have a sense of pride playing for Great Britain?
A: I think there’s a sense of pride being born there, having family there. It feels good to be able to have that opportunity to play where I still have family at and more so just to have a chance to put that jersey on because I never really had a chance to fulfill that commitment. So I’m definitely looking forward to it.