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Hot Rod carrying White flag


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 difficult.

"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 states. 

"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 unbelievable. 

"Everything about 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.

(Rodney Alexander was released by Leopards in December 2001)

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