If you come
across Rodney Alexander this season, show him some love. Even if he's killing
your team with his smooth handling, give him some cheer.
A-Rod (as we're calling
him from now on, despite the fact that he has no known baseball talent)
skipped up from the Conference last summer, staying just long enough in
Brighton to get some rock before electing to be an Essex boy.
Life in the BBL ain't
like it was while pulling out all sorts of magic under Joe White among
Inter-Basket's Hackney crew. The bench and A-Rod have become close buddies
in the early part of the season - a minute here, junk time there. All the
while trying to prove that, like Yorick and JJ before him, he has The Game
to raise a Brit standard in the middle of all those Americans strolling
around on the hardwood.
"I'm trying to get
used to the format of the league where you still have the five Americans
even though they say there should be one less," admits Leopards native
shotgun. "The coaches have to play the five Americans and that makes it
"Given the opportunity,
I will go as far as this league can take me. It's not just me. It's the
same for every young British player. It's just getting through the door
and getting a chance."
It was Chris Pullem
who opened the portal for A-Rod to jump through. "You're going to see much
more of this guy," barks Pullem who has been quietly satisfied with what
he seen so far on an average of 2.33 points and as many rebounds per. He
could have been in Brighton of course but his stay on the south coast lasted
only a few days, disappearing faster from the Bears roster than he does
on a fast break.
"I didn't feel that
I could have fitted in well there. Not with the system but with the way
that things were working," A-Rod reveals enigmatically about his brief
encounter with Nurse Nick.
Still, while you
can take the boy out of Hackney, asking Alexander to turn off his long-term,
heart-felt allegiance to his old club in nigh impossible. Or to White,
Inter-Basket's heroic champion cum guru. The two remain utterly tight despite
the former's departure. "He's the first guy I ever met in basketball,"
he says of White. "He's like a father away from my father."
Despite White's dislike
for the BBL's Stateside conveyor belt, the coach has been supportive of
his pupil's graduation into the pro ranks.
"I talk to Joe now
and then to let him know how I'm doing. He's that kind of guy," Hot Rod
"He's always been
very supportive to me and been around when I need him. I've gut nothing
but respect for him and everything he has done for youth development. It's
him, his attitude..he's not just the coach. He looks after his kids and
he understands everything about basketball. And he's willing to sacrifice
everything he's got so you can succeed. He's a genuine guy who does it
for the love of the game.
"Without clubs like
ours (sic), there isn't much going on in the summer. There are a few scrimmages.
Joe has his, Westminster have theirs. But without summer tournaments like
Rough n Ready, everything goes backwards. You need more"
40 minutes a night
in the NBL. Respect already earned. Easy buckets. Now exchanged for a much
tougher existence, longer road trips to the frozen north and the hothouse
of basketball that is, erm, Brentwood. So why leave?
"It was getting too
easy. I was getting a little too comfortable in the Conference. I've had
a good few years there with Joe White and I enjoyed it. But over the summer,
I had a few friendly games with Ware against BBL teams. I knew I could
hold my own at this level and I thought 'instead of standing around why
not see how far I can go?'"
There are benefits
though, Alexander offers. "I get to practice two hours a day, every day
of the week which is a big difference. I'm enjoying doing what I love.
"Most the kids in
the NBL could do a job in this league given the chance. It's a matter of
time and getting a shot.
"It's a life. We're
all trying to earn as much money as possible while we can. I'd love it
(the BBL) to be all-English or British but I don't know if that's ever
going to be possible."
Hail Alexander the
Great for making it this far then. And A-Rod hits on your team any time
soon, smile and be generous in your applause. Game that is bred on domestic
soil is already worth a home run.
was released by Leopards in December 2001)
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