“Dre. Sandwiches. Internet Cafe.”
I had a great time in Montenegro. In my opinion, there are three keys to evaluate when playing internationally: 1) That what is expected of you as a player by the team and what you expect to do as a player are somewhat in line with each other; 2) Your living conditions are acceptable; 3) Your money is correct and, for the most part, on time.
I would have to say that my situation in Herceg Novi, Montenegro was pretty solid on all three points, except that some lost in translation communication between three different factions caused the situation to not end as well as it should have. My understanding is I got caught in the middle of a dispute between management and the head coach, with nobody stepping up and saying, “I’m in charge, this is what we’re gonna do.” Read the below blog post links for more about that.
Aside from that, I loved the town of Herceg Novi (Official city website. Warning: music plays when you open that page)! I was especially excited and appreciative of the Mediterranean climate, which kept the temperatures in the 40s most of the time and yielded little to no snow. The people were nice, and not nearly as American- crazy as the Mexicans or even the Lithuanians. I was the only Afro-American probably in the entire country for the time I was there but I walked the streets unbothered; gawked at, but for the most part left alone.
Montenegro was by far my favorite professional basketball experience to that point for the following reasons: 1) I “created my own luck,” so to speak, as far as getting the business end done; 2) I had full use of a laptop, digital camera, and Blackberry for the entirety of the experience, allowing me to record and remember everything; 3) I left with absolutely zero regrets or “wish I woulda’s–” I did and said everything that I felt like, when I felt like. The above things being true, there is a lot I could talk about here. In the interest of business (and because the front office of the club did very well by me), I’ll save the rest for the book.
Music Of The Moment:
My first practice and my first game. I had spent so much time working on my game, and shooting in particular, leading up to those two moments and it paid off at the perfect times. That first impression played a big role in establishing myself mentally after being away from pro hoops for nearly 18 months.
The endless conversations with the foolish head coach, who couldn’t speak English. Every statement had to be translated and this made all of our talks take 3 times as long, not to mention having someone else know exactly where the coach and I stood, probably better than either me or the coach did.