By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
For every American player that gets selected in the NBA Draft, there’s another who goes through the whole night without hearing his name being called. Some of them choose the long road of embarking on a career in Europe, even by signing with relatively small clubs in minor leagues or lower domestic divisions.
Even those who initially get signed by an NBA team can find themselves on the other side of the Atlantic at a point in their career for reasons that vary with each case. What, at first, may appear like a type of exile to some, can evolve into a blessing in disguise.
European basketball history is marked with American players who have reached true greatness with their overseas accomplishments. Ballers who have become a synonym for success and have even achieved legendary status with some of the most historic clubs in the continent. Yet these triumphs can be overlooked, disregarded, if not completely ignored in their own home country.
Malcolm Delaney doesn’t give a damn. And he believes that some of his U.S. colleagues who scattered in different teams all over Europe carry more or less the same feeling.
“As far as what people think, for me, I don’t care,” Delaney told Eurohoops. “I know what I’ve done in my career. I think the top players from the States who play in EuroLeague don’t care. I think we all share the same attitude. It’s not about proving people in the States wrong or anything. There are players who come over here who make more money than NBA players, who live better lifestyles. And they win. You can’t compare that to someone who goes and doesn’t play in the NBA, finish their careers broke. Just because they try to prove a stereotype about NBA players.”
There were two career paths laid in front of Delaney when he completed the circle of his first stint in Europe back in 2016.
Delaney was fresh off the top season of his career back then, an MVP-caliber run that included All-EuroLeague First Team honors and leading Russian club Lokomotiv Kuban to its maiden Final Four appearance. The American guard could stay in Europe by accepting a lucrative offer from a EuroLeague powerhouse. If he did that, he would join a contender and become one of the highest-paid players in the continent.
Given Delaney’s streak of winning all sorts of team titles and individual accolades nearly everywhere he played in Europe, one could safely predict that his trophy case may have become even larger. That he could possibly build a legacy in Europe. Make some history.
The potential appeal wasn’t enough to turn Delaney’s attention from fulfilling the grand ambition at hand. It was something else that the undrafted in 2011 Delaney craved back then and that was realizing a lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. Eventually, the former “Hokie” signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks to finally compete in the league and play within a 90-minute flight from his native Baltimore after spending his first five years as a professional an ocean away from his family and friends.
“It was something that I always wanted to do,” Delaney said to Eurohoops.
Every time Delaney was available in the market, high-aspiring EuroLeague clubs were setting their sights on him. Fenerbahce Beko, Anadolu Efes and Khimki Moscow were just some of the teams that wanted to acquire Delaney. But perhaps none wooed him as intensely as Barcelona did. The bond between the two was consummated last September when the Blaugrana brought the now 30-year-old player back in EuroLeague to help the team retrace its steps back to success.