Discovering Europe or just a country other than the United States for the first time in their lives, some Americans experience homesickness, fail to adapt to local customs, jet lag or the different style of basketball played, and quickly end up going home.
« The very first time I came overseas to play was in Turkey. I stayed one month and left. It wasn’t a good situation for me and I was terrified. I went back to the USA and played in the NBA D- League. My first experience was very scary. I didn’t understand the language and I did not know anyone. I didn’t have a car and it was a small city. I didn’t expect to be in that situation and I was depressed. » tells Frank Hassell, who did not take long to play a lot better in Europe when a second opportunity came to him. « After my first year in the D-League, I was hoping to get another chance to come back to Europe and play. Once I got that chance, I took full advantage of it. After my second year, I didn’t have any issues adapting to the lifestyle of playing professional basketball. I learned more about the game on the court and different cultures off the court ».
Toddrick Gotcher has also returned to his first professional experience outside the United States. A season during which he did not failed mentally, and in relation to which he keep a lot of positive things. « My first time overseas was in Greece. And I have never been out of the country before I signed my first professional contract in Greece. I was extremely nervous and I really did not know what to expect. I searched many times the life of Europe and searched the country of Greece to get a feel for where I would be at. The city was a small one, but the people were amazing and very welcoming. The life was very slow for me at first being from America. The pace was one of the biggest adjustments I had to understand. But it was a good place for me to start and understand the European culture ».
It turns out, however, that all players do not act like Gotcher and don’t search for any information about their future destination. For better or for worse… « I knew absolutely NOTHING about France or Vichy or French Basketball… I just knew that it was an opportunity to play basketball at a high level and get paid for it. », recounts Amadi McKenzie.
« I did not expect the city I was in was a tourist area so I had things to do when I had free time from basketball. Finally, my first year was my best experience overseas living near the Black Sea. It’s something about warm weather and sand that always make the day go smooth », exposes Jeremi Booth.
Alone in an unknown country where not everyone speaks and does not necessarily understand English, American rookies can easily know bad adventures if they have no one to support them and guide them on a daily basis. « Luckily, I had four other americans on my team so it was easy », explain Jared Newson, who quickly had nonetheless technical difficulties outside the basketball courts. « The only problem I had was trying to drive a manual car for the first time without anyone helping me. I burned the clutch everyday for a week then they decided to give me an automatic ».