Marcus Sloan: Should I stay or should I go?

Marcus Sloan: Should I stay or should I go?
Feb 05, 2008, 02:04 am
The Giants vs. the Patriots, Hillary vs. Obama, McCain vs… Who cares. With Super Tuesday right around the corner, and the Super Bowl last night, I figured you’d want to have something else to talk about around the water cooler. The D-League Showcase was a couple of weeks ago, and afterwards there were a lot of guys who had a major decision to make… Do I stay here and chase this dream, or do I take my Xbox and my game to Europe!

And they got me to thinking about my own struggle I have with my decision to play in Europe this year. The D-League salaries this year range from $12,000 for a C level player, $18,000 for a B level, and $24,000 for an A level player. And all of the salaries are BEFORE taxes…Damn, so you mean to tell me for 9 months the most money I can make is $24,000? And that number is only for guys who have had some NBA experience, (i.e.: training camp invite, playing in the preseason). But the majority of the guys who play at home make 12 grand!! “Hello, welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order?” Hell, the guy at the drive through wouldn’t even take that salary, the dang French fry machine makes more than $12,000!

But the D-League wants you to think it’s not about the money, it’s about the chance of living your dream and getting called up! The D-League holds the carrot of getting a NBA call up to a lot of talented guys who could make good money if they took their games to Europe. So, a guy who is 22-25, just finished school, and feels he’s right on the cusp of making it to the show, plays in the D-League instead of going to Europe. Why? Because that carrot is there. If you stay in the D-League, you will play in front of NBA scouts every night, and if you play well enough, that call-up will come. They sell this dream to all the players who participate in the D-League, I think D-League president Chris Alpert calls it, “Finding a diamond in the rough”.

Well, for guys who have no NBA experience, which is probably 75% of the league, they might as well be cubic zirconia, cuz nobody is finding them. The 11 guys who got called up this year, all have NBA experience in some way or another. But every year there are guys who kill in the D-League, and don’t even get a sniff. Actually my boy Keith Langford, who got called up this year, killed in the D-League two years ago, and didn’t get a call up that year. This year, there are several guys who deserve a call up, Rod Benson, Carlos Powell, Lance Allred, and Big Elton Brown come to mind. And I can’t help but think of the money these guys could have made in Europe if they would decide to leave now, or would have left earlier in the year. The Dream Starts Here, that’s the official slogan of the D-League, but is it a pipe dream?

Now don’t get it twisted, I love everything about the D-League. I’m not here to bash it, I think its great, and every year it gets bigger and better. Hell, I even participated in the 1st annual pre draft camp this year in Arlington, TX, and played really well. I even got one evaluation from a scout, that said I was a poor man’s Horace Grant!! When I found out, I was happy as hell! I would take being a poor man’s Horace Grant, over being a poor man’s Horace Cambell. You’ve never heard of Horace Cambell? Well neither have I, that’s my point!

I am probably the only guy in Europe who’s making good money who has thought about leaving Europe the past two years to play in the D-League! I have Chris Alpert’s phone number on speed dial, and my agent probably emails him at least once a month. My point is, I would love to play in the D-League, the fact that my parents could come see me play again, a flight for my girl would be easier, compared to the be $600 I have to shell out for her to come to Switzerland. I could watch BET, ESPN, and any other channel I want in English, compared to the three channels I have here in English, and one is the damn BBC, so that doesn’t even count! I would love to be able to use my cell phone, and chill with my boys on the team where everybody speaks English in the locker room. But the simple fact remained, as well as I played that weekend in Arlington, and with a D-League contract on the way, I decided to take the offer I had in Switzerland. The reason is simple-- as much as I wanted to stay home and play in the States, I wouldn’t get my first paycheck until November 15!!! It was freaking July 29th, what the hell was I gonna do until then. “Welcome to McDonald’s may I…?” That was too easy!

But seriously, with my bank account and my future depending on it, I decided I couldn’t wait till November for the first installment of my whopping $12,000. I have a couple of ideas on how the D-League could get more guys to stay home and play to become that next “Diamond in the Rough”! It will take a little help form the NBA, so David Stern, Chris Alpert, and Dan Reed, as T.O would say, “Getcha popcorn ready”!! To be continued….

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