Not too long ago, pundits were touting Europe as serious competition to the US in pro sports. They could pay more to their basketball and hockey players, and were attracting stars at a growing rate. Well, it looks like there’s still a ways to go before the US loses its role as the premier sporting nation. Just ask Alexei Cherepanov. Or ask Brandon Jennings, who’s alive and talking about how terrible it is over there.
Jennings isn’t getting paid, isn’t getting to play, and isn’t getting to work on his game the way he would had he stayed in college. Add to that the language and cultural barriers, and Jennings is sending up a big red flag for any athletes who are thinking about going for a quick and easy payday.
“I’ve gotten paid on time once this year,” he told the NEW YORK TIMES. “They treat me like I’m a little kid. They don’t see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you’ll play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all. That’s just how it is.”
While Jennings admits the $1.2 million he received to play for Lottomatica Virtus Roma is nice, he’s concerned it could hurt him down the road, possibly weakening his draft standing. He’s only getting 15-20 minutes a night, and when he is in the game, plays aren’t drawn up for him to shoot. He’s averaging less than seven points a game.
“My role is to play D and take open shots — that’s it,” he said. “And I’ve accepted that role.”
The problem is, that’s not the role the scoring point guard will play once he joins the NBA next year. And some are wary that this year will be a lost year in his development, and will set him back a year compared to where he would be had he gone to college.
“I don’t see too many kids doing it,” Jennings said. “It’s tough man, I’ll tell you that. It can break you.”