In the 2007 NBA Draft, there was a point guard by the name of Jared Jordan that was being tossed around, but maybe not as much as it should have been. He was a senior at Marist College, a small D1 college in the MAAC conference, and was a Red Fox for all four of his collegiate years. Jordan, for his second year in a row, led the NCAA nationwide in assists. This feat was only achieved by one other player in the history of the NCAA, Avery Johnson (ever hear of him?). Jordan’s smooth ball handling, no look passes, and court vision were no joke. At the conclusion of a great regular season for the Red Foxes (but failing to make the NCAA tournament), it wasn’t a question of “if” he would get drafted to the NBA, but “where” he would get drafted. As a Marist alumni myself and New York Knicks die hard fan, I of course wanted to see Jordan stay in New York.
Jordan was drafted 45th in the 2007 NBA Draft by the LA Clippers, and was shortly traded to the Knicks (score!). Jordan however was never given the time of day and never made the roster. He has been playing in Europe ever since, now playing for the German squad Telekom Baskets.
So why am I bringing up The “Almost” Knickerbocker? Let’s be realistic, the ’07-’08 Knicks were terrible, and not even a Steve Nash or Chris Paul could make that team work. However, what about now? The Knicks have two of the best scorers in the league and are in dire need of a pass first, shoot second point guard who can also score. They need a veteran basketball mind who still has his prime years left in the tank. Although I believe Jordan was ready for the NBA right out of college, he’s now a 4 year veteran.
So now, I’m calling YOU out Donnie Walsh & Mike D’Antoni. I’m putting you both in the hot seat. Why not resign this kid, have Billups mentor him and show him the ropes of the NBA, and have a scalable long term point guard who can propel this Knicks team to the success they deserve. How about it D & M?
Here’s a recent interview RealGM had with Jordan:
RealGM: Do you think that all expectations and comparisons with players like John Stockton affect your career? Did you feel pressure at the time when you played in college?
Jordan: I do not think that the comparisons affected my career at all. I never put that upon myself to be like someone else and let alone one of the best point guards to ever play the game. I just focused on trying to get better and making a living out of basketball.
RealGM: Do you think that you were ready to go to the NBA directly from the college?
Jordan: Yes, I felt I was ready for the NBA out of college. But there were certain things that happened that did not allow me to make it in the NBA. Obviously looking back, I wish I had known what I know now about the game that I did now but that comes with experience.
RealGM: After you were selected with 45th pick by Clippers in 2007, did you feel that you would stay in the NBA for your rookie season after talking with Clippers management?
Jordan: I did not get any indications from the Clippers that they were going to sign me 100 percent. I just knew that I would need to earn a spot in training camp, but I got traded before then and had another opportunity with the Knicks that did not work out.
RealGM: In your opinion, why were you unable to make it in the NBA?Was it just a bad situation not getting a chance, orwas there something more?
Jordan: I am not sure why I didn’t stay in the NBA, but I gave it my best shot and that’s all I can ask for. It was a great experience for me and I loved trying to compete for a spot, which was a dream of mine since I was young.
RealGM: Have NBA teams ever told you what do you need to improve to become the type of player to play on that level?
Jordan: When I was going through the process, NBA teams were always questioning my defense and shooting ability. I think those were two of the main things that I needed to improve on to make it in the NBA.
RealGM: You have played in three completely different countries: Lithuania of Eastern Europe, Germany of Middle Europe and Greece of South Europe. Could you name the main differences of living and playing in those countries? Which one did you like the most?
Jordan: I have played in Lithuania, Greece and Germany and all the places have something different about them. I would say that living in Lithuania was an adjustment for me because it was my first year out of college and being all by myself. I was very lucky though to have great teammates who helped me adjust. Living in Lithuania was nice but very cold! Germany to me felt the most like home in the United States. I always felt right at home having lived in Germany so it was something I always enjoyed. Greece was very nice and living on the island of Rhodes was great. Not many people get to live in a tourist destination for an entire year. All of the places I lived had great things about it so I can’t say which one I liked best, but I would say I felt the most comfortable in Germany.
RealGM: It is said that point guard is like a coach on the court. However, coaches in Europe and the USA are different. Was it difficult to adapt to the European style of basketball and work with European coaches?
Jordan: It was very difficult for me to adjust to the European game when I first came to Lithuania. Not knowing much about the European game before I came to Europe I was quickly reminded how different it was. In Lithuania I was playing with great players who had European experience so they helped me adjust but I felt that it took me the entire year to fully understand the European game.
RealGM: Did anything surprise you in Europe if we talk about both, living and basketball?
Jordan: The way the game is played here in Europe is very different from in the States. That’s why I laugh when a lot of people think they can come to Europe and it will be easy. They do not understand that it is a lot different and it won’t be as easy as they think. Living in Europe has been great! I love the European way of life and have enjoyed being here and hope to for many of years.
RealGM: This summer you decided to come back to Germany and play for Telekom Baskets Bonn. What were the main reasonsforthis choice?
Jordan: As I said earlier, I always felt very much at home in Germany and that played a huge role in my decision to come back. Obviously having played in Bonn before, I knew how much my girlfriend and I enjoyed living there and we wanted to experience that again. The coach and management there have always been great and the fans are a very important part of the club. To me it reminds me a lot of my college years, which I loved.
RealGM: Talking about NBA lockout, do you think we will see NBA stars moving overseas and possibly to Europe?
Jordan: I think some NBA guys will come to Europe because they want to keep playing and to stay in shape. I think they will be surprised and might find it difficult to play here because of the different styles. Also, in Europe off the court is different then the NBA mentality. In Europe you fly economy, you always eat together as a team on the road, long bus trips, sometimes two practices a day so it could be a big adjustment for some guys.
RealGM: Did you receive any calls from your friends who play in NBA currently and are thinking about playing overseas? If you were to receive it, what would you tell them?
Jordan: No, I have not really talked to anyone about them coming to play in Europe. If I did talk with someone, I would tell him to give it a shot and enjoy the experience. I know when looking back on my career when I am older I will be very happy that I was able to make a living playing basketball while traveling the world.
RealGM: People were comparing you with Steve Nash back at the time of your draft year. Do you still believe that you could reach that kind of level? Do you have any career goals at the moment?
Jordan: Steve Nash is a two-time MVP of the NBA, so those are very high standards. I do not compare myself to him, but I try and do similar things that he does. I want to keep playing the game as long as I can while always enjoying it.
RealGM: As you are still 26-year-old, is coming back to the NBA is among your plans as well?
Jordan: I do not know if the NBA is something that will happen but you never know what can take place. I am enjoying my time here in Europe so I am focused on that.