Brent Petway from the heart (Last part)

21/Aug/21 11:37 August 21, 2021

Aris Barkas

21/Aug/21 11:37

The voyage of Brent Petway takes a bad turn with depression knocking on his door and even suicidal thoughts being his reality. Thankfully he survived to write the story in a light, but moving way

Read the first and the second part of Brent Petway’s career recollections as he wrote them himself for Eurohoops.

Sassari and alcohol 

Coming off of two years at Olympiacos playing at a pretty good level, but not great numbers on the stat sheet because my job on the court was different, for some unknown reason my agents could not find a job for me. To me, it was strange at first, because they told me that some teams were saying that Olympiacos told them I needed surgery on my shoulder and I’m thinking to myself “how can that be when I just finished the last two months of the season playing all these games.”

My agents really lucked up and didn’t have to do any work for the first two contracts I got. I pretty much did everything. First,  in Rethymno, I got that contract and they just handled the particulars, and Olympiacos sought me out because I played well against them and I was doing pretty well in Greek League. Little did I know, I would be the lowest paid on the team. The young Greeks on the roster might have been making more than me, and that’s all because my agents were scared to push for more.

They wanted to build a relationship with the club I guess. My US agent was Andre Buck and I never really dealt with him. He was just the partner. I originally was just talking to Marios Olympios and he was really cool. I thought he was a guy who really was looking out for my best interests. They both turned out to be just like every other agent I had previously, where I was nothing but a quick come up for them to get their little percentage off of the contract with little attention paid to actual situations that would benefit my play style and coaches who really wanted me.

Buck only cares about the guys that he knows from Philly and that’s cool but don’t recruit or work for players if you give a sh..t about them, is what I’m saying to agents. So they sit waiting, I presume all summer, to the point where I send the letter to fire them, then all of a sudden they have a deal on the table from Sassari. Telling me how much they want me, and they want me to be a leader on the team, their coach is gonna let me play. Sounds good to me so I’m like “ok let’s do it!”

I get there and this is no exaggeration, after the second preseason game I tell my agents “yo, I am not going to fit in with the team. It’s a different philosophy here, and I don’t fit with this locker room at all.”

We had six foreigners, six talented foreigners and they all wanted to average 20. Marquez Haynes an explosive scorer, David Logan just came back and he won the Triple Crown in Italy with this very team so of course, he was the man already and deserved to get any shot he wanted, he was proven there already. Jarvis Varnado coming from the Miami Heat, Christian Eyenga, younger and trying to level up put his footprint on Europe. Joe Alexander, one of the best one-on-one players I have seen in Europe. So you have all these guys who want the ball and the GM is telling all of them that they are going to have the ball. The problem with that is there are only so many possessions in a game. Somebody is going to be upset that they didn’t get their shots.

Not to mention Rok Stipcevic. He also wants his shots as he is playing behind Haynes. So he is trying to get his up as soon as he gets off the bench. Rok you also did some BS against CSKA telling me one thing, while the coach tells me another. Teodosic hits a three and the coach is screaming at me asking why I didn’t hedge out. Rok puts his head down like a scalded dog and doesn’t offer up any words. I’m no snitch though, so I took the blame, then again in the film session, the same possession happened and the coach says it again and I purposefully turn my head and look at Rok and he does the same thing.

That let me know this team was selfish as hell. I should have squealed like a pig and told exactly what happened but I let it ride and just never respected him for the rest of the year. Here I am coming from a ball movement philosophy type team, where communication was key to a situation where “I gotta get mine, maybe I’ll talk maybe, I won’t” type situation and I was a fish out of water. I played like absolute trash all year. There is no denying that. I can count on one hand the games I left the gym actually ok with my play.

I told my agents to get me out of there early and this is what Andre Buck told me. “You’re getting paid on time right?” My reply “uhhh yea?” He says “then chill and we will see what we can do.” I probably should have cursed him out right then and there, but I was kind of in a state of shock like “did he really just say that to me.”

Now I told the team I wasn’t happy and I wanted to leave. They said, “no we wanna keep you here.” TEAMS listen to me, you can’t force a situation to work. IF A PLAYER TELLS YOU HE DOESN’T FIT, it’s not because he wants to go home and vacation. HE REALLY IS DOWN TO THE LAST STRAW. Sassari didn’t wanna hear that, they were like: “Nope Petway you not going anywhere, we don’t care how bad you feel or how bad you play”. It was a move I’ll never understand because it didn’t help either side. Keeping me there while I’m playing terribly, and not happy. So neither party is happy, that makes zero sense to me.

How many times have I said that about clubs and their reactions? Marios told me Cantu was willing to pick me if Sassari would let me go and probably Sassari said no because if I had gone to Cantu and started playing better, they would look bad. So they just keep good-old Petway there where he is miserable and can’t make a lay-up. Literally, I was out there missing lay-ups.

I had already struggled with my confidence before. But at this point, I’m not happy, I’m not having any fun, for the first time in life I am dreading going to the gym every day. It was just all bad. Then you have these fans and media talking about you and how bad you are playing, (like you don’t already know). I went into such a state of depression it might as well have been a constant thunderstorm in my house.

Again I couldn’t let anybody see that though,  so I turned to alcohol, not to the point of being an alcoholic, but it was a coping device for me at the house playing music and drinking because there was very little to do in Sassari besides eating, sleep and go to the gym. With the right situation, it’s perfect for basketball. This was the longest season for me, not in terms of months being there, but every day once we started playing games by November I was struggling to wake up and literally not kill myself. That started to be a real fight and I’m telling my agents almost every week that I’m struggling mentally there, but they don’t give a damn.

Meanwhile, to myself, I am again saying: “I’m not playing well so no other agents are gonna wanna help me out either so I’m pretty much stuck.” To put the season in perspective, two coaches resigned, saying they just couldn’t handle the team or could not control it. The GM had to take over and finish the season as the coach. I remember one instance I got hurt on a Saturday game or something so I didn’t practice Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I did the whole practice and we have an away game. Now at that point, we are six foreigners, so we are doing the whole one guy sits out thing in the Italian league.

So we are at the airport and the coach Marco Calvani, a good dude but in a bad situation for him, asks me how I feel and if I feel like I can play. In my head, I’m like “yo I just practiced three days straight with no complaints why is he asking me this now?” As usual, I tell him I’m good. Then we get to our destination, watch the film and he starts talking about the matchups and says again “we will see how Brent feels if he can play or not.” I’m saying, the coach just asked me if I could go and I told him “yea, right“. So now the wheels in my head start turning and I’m thinking, “they must want somebody else to play, so they keep bringing this shit up about IF I can play.” After the film, he calls me in again. “So Brent how do you feel, do you think you can play?’ “I was fed up at this point with the whole year and told him “Nah if you all want somebody else to play, let them play.”

I wasn’t mad or anything because as I said I looked in the mirror, knew I was playing like some garbage juice, so if you wanna play someone else and sit me, you don’t have to play these games, just tell me “Brent we’re going with such and such”. I would have been just fine with that. I left that room, got on the phone since I knew I wasn’t playing tomorrow, and got a friend to come and hang out and thought nothing more about it. I supported the team, we lost – ok it happens – get back to Sassari.

Monday afternoon the GM (who would eventually take over as coach) calls me into the office and puts down a piece of paper and a pen and says “Sign this” like he is freaking Don Corleone or somebody. I ain’t even trip, I signed that paper with no objections – I mean technically I was wrong – but he says “Oh, the coach told me you said you didn’t wanna play”. I say “why the f**k do you all ask me three different times in two days if I could play after I had practiced three full days before the game.” What was with the little mind games?

But I charged that one to the game. I did what I did, it was wrong, but at the time I didn’t feel it was wrong at all. You be the judge. That was the one time where I can say I did something unbecoming of a professional. That was a wake-up call to myself that really had stopped giving a damn about basketball and this place had ruined the game I loved so much for me.

Karsiyaka (or Sassari 2.0)

After this horrible season nothing good came from it, no psychology, no stats, ok just money. And I wasn’t even happy about the money. I felt like I was stealing the whole year in Sassari. Somehow these agents get a job for me coming off the most bullshit season known to mankind but they couldn’t get a job for me after two seasons in Olympiacos going to a EuroLeague Final Four and winning a Greek Championship. That further let me know they were just waiting for the phone to ring instead of picking up the phone and making calls.

So I go to Izmir, a beautiful city, pretty good people, but it was Sassari 2.0 for me for different reasons. I wasn’t bored all the time, but basketball-wise I was put in another can’t-win spot. They had Dajuan Summers already signed and unknown to me the coach had him pretty much slated to play 30+ minutes per game. Well, where do you think that leaves old Brent Petway? Not much respect, not much time, and a thing they did in Sassari that I hated, they also did here which was put me to play the center position.

They did this after I told them: “Hey, can I leave I have a team that wants me, I’m not getting minutes here.” The coach was Nenad Markovic who also played at Olympiacos, another good dude in a tough situation. He called me in and said: “Marios told me you want to leave and I understand but we can’t afford right now to let you leave because we don’t have another “4” if Summers gets hurt”. I’m thinking again: “Damn it ain’t like you all using me now anyway. To say you can’t afford to lose me, would mean you were actually using me.” This came with “let’s give him some minutes playing the center” which is the most uncomfortable position for me because first off I’m 210 lbs 215 if my clothes are wet, so you expect me to be down there banging with the likes of people 240 pounds and up consistently? That’s not gonna end well for my body and I knew it but f**k my body, right? It’s about being there for the team.

Take it from me that being-the-soldier-for-the-team thing is good until it ain’t good no more. When you break down and your body breaks down, they cast you right to the side and talk about all the things you couldn’t do, not what you did to help this team win. That year in that locker room, before we got Mike Green I had to talk Summers and J’Covan Brown down off the ledge plenty of times because they would snap on the coach. These dudes offensively had crazy talent so I was trying to keep them on the upward path and not have them get a setback and labeled as “head cases.”

I guess I should have been more like others and prayed for my teammates to mess up. I’m just not that kind of dude. After the beating my brain had taken two years straight, I slipped right back into the same feeling here, not playing, pissed of, depressed. I can say at least in Karsiyaka I didn’t dread going to the gym every day, just some days usually after games where I would play under 10 minutes or go something like zero to two. I knew I deserved more than getting two shots attempts per game.

Even if I was playing like ass, I felt like “man, nobody around me has any confidence in me”, while I’m on the sideline cheering everybody as hard as I could. I guess I’m a sucker for that too, but hey, that is how I’m wired. Last game of the season against TOFAS whoever wins goes to the playoffs. I want to say this to whichever Ivanov brother it was, (the fat one) who pulled my shoulder out of the socket. You, sir, are a grade-A punk who couldn’t lace up the shoes of the worst high school basketball player.

This Ivanov character and there are many more like him throughout Europe, couldn’t play basketball. His game was completely centered around grabbing, hooking arms, and flopping while he was posting up to draw fouls. All you European basketball federations want the game to grow, first, you need to crack down on players like that, who go into the game not to score or play basketball, they go in to have a wrestling match and foul someone out. If you make a basketball move and flop on me I’m ok with that even, but hooking my arm or leg hoping to get a reaction and foul is not basketball.

Referees in Europe I don’t know what you all are looking at but players come in with the reputation and you all still let them do the same shit. The m***er and I got tangled because I had the inside position for a rebound. So he hooks one of my arms and pulls back and down with all his force, while I’m jumping up to grab the rebound. Him being 250-60 and me being my 210 lbs of chiseled mass, something had to go and it was my shoulder. That’s not basketball. That’s dirty. We lose and I’m stuck in Izmir for another week now of sleepless nights because I can’t make one move with excruciating shoulder pain. On meds and all that a fitting end to another abysmal season.

Aris and a $28.000 debt

YOU STILL OWE ME 28,000 DOLLARS. I’m going to keep saying that randomly. I get to Aris, I’m thinking back to Greece, for sure I’ll get some respect here. My agent wouldn’t send me here and they do not want me, right? Giannakis, an Aris legend is coaching. The first week in Bulgaria preseason, something happens to my damn Achilles. I’m fighting through that though I’m ready to go, I just know I’m going to be getting heavy minutes. Wrong again. While I was thinking it would be me and Vassilopoulos splitting minutes, it was Vassilopoulos, getting the heavy run then sometimes me and sometimes Tsarelis, and Christidis.

It also wasn’t long until they put me at the fu****  center again. I just threw my hands up and said the universe is messing with me and somebody must really want me to kill myself because this shit can not be happening. Still, it was Greece so F it right? Well, a couple of months go by, I’m playing injured, playing through stuff and I hear players in the locker room talking about they got paid. I turned into Stone Cold Steve Austin I said “WHAT?!?” I’m three months in playing through all types of injuries and mental fatigue and these MF’s have the audacity to pay other players and not me”.

At this moment, I checked right out of basketball mentally. That was the last disrespect I could take. That was quickly followed by a retirement tweet, which I didn’t really mean but we had just lost to PAOK and Margaritis was out there looking like f****ing prime Arvydas Sabonis and I knew I was better than that. It was a perfect storm. I left that game telling myself “I’m dying tonight.” Legit I told myself that. I didn’t, clearly, Instead, I passed out in my bed around 6 in the morning, all alone after staring at the sky for hours, drinking thinking about which bridge in Thessaloniki or building I could jump off of.

I can talk about this now, but this stuff was really weighing on my head every single morning I woke up. My behavior toward people in my personal life was probably erratic as hell. Aris, YOU OWE ME 28,000 DOLLARS.

I have said many times these chants in which fans talk about players’ families are completely out of bounds. I hear them from the stands while we are playing against Promitheas and getting killed. “F*** your mother Petway ” but in Greek. Of course, I understand a lot of Greek by now, so I said it again to myself. “I’m dying today.”

I got up from the bench and looked at someone who I thought said it. Maybe it wasn’t even him but I was looking for a way to jump up into the stands and knock as many of them out as I could before they washed me out. They definitely would have got me, there were about 50-100 Aris fans who made the drive to Patra to support the team. I would have maybe been able to get two guys before being swarmed but I was ready to die for it anyway. If you’re gonna insult somebody, insult the players, not the families or loved ones of the players that are off-limits, or it should be anyway but this probably would take generations to change this behavior.

Listen! I love the chants and songs but make them all about the team or the players, not about the families of these guys. There is a line, and it is all too often crossed. A rule is this: fans if you won’t say the shit to me when you see me in the street, why are you saying in the stands? Call me a bum all you want, in as many ways as you want but leave anyone else out of it. That shit is sad to me. Ok, some of the chants may be funny, but some cross the line.

And I’ll end with something a wise man once told me. ARIS YOU OWE ME 28,000 DOLLARS.

Throughout his pro career from 2007 to 2018, Petway played for such teams as Olympiacos Piraeus, Pinar Karsiyaka, Dinamo Sassari, Aris Thessaloniki, and Rethymno. He won the 2015 Greek League and made the EuroLeague championship game with Olympiacos and was particularly famous for his spectacular type of play.