There’s a reason youngsters spend hours outside, chucking free throws and practicing their jump shots, counting down “3-2-1″ in their heads before launching a desperation shot. It’s not for the glory, or for the love of the game, or even the massive amount of ladies associated with such a career. It’s for the perks, and they are legion. But as this story by the TORONTO STAR attests, no matter how much bling a player receives, they’ll always remember how horrible their lives used to be.
(Roko Ukic still can’t get over the size of his suite)
The report, previewing tonight’s Raptors-Lakers tilt, is kind of hilarious in a “Crocodile Dundee 2″ kind of way. It tells the story of these hick backwoods Raptors players coming into the Los Angeles metropolis and becoming amazing by this high-fallutin’ city life, what with these auto-mobiles moving around and the electricities.
But NBA-style luxury is relatively new to a handful of Raptors. For Roko Ukic, the 23-year-old rookie who honed his game in Croatia’s lower-pro rungs, life wasn’t always thus.
“We stayed in some bad places. It just was terrible, terrible. You cannot imagine,” Ukic was saying last month. “No TV. Cockroaches. No curtains on the windows, so you wake up at 5 a.m. …”
Come to think about it, that doesn’t sound awful as much as it sounds like “ordinary life in our neck of the woods”. At least, it doesn’t sound like much compared to this horror story from Israel:
Anthony Parker, the Raptors shooting guard who grew up in the Chicago area but made his name in the Israeli league, shakes his head at the memory.
“Most of the beds were single beds, small single beds,” said Parker. “And you come into the room and they’re separated by, like, three inches. All the American guys would slide their beds to the opposite ends of the room.”
Ahh yes. Good old fashioned American homophobia. The article is really worth checking out, if only because it allows you to see the humanity of these NBA players. Never again will you be jealous of the constant perks they receive. Because, my friends, they’ve certainly earned it.