Casper Ware - Basketball - PlayersVoice
Casper Ware - Basketball - PlayersVoice

Basketball

My plans for the NBL & NBA

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My plans for the NBL & NBA

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I’m having a ball playing for Melbourne United. Those crazy away fans cursing me, I thrive on that. Now that we’re playing in the finals, I want to help bring this club the title.

 

But, at the end of the season, I’ll be heading back home to Los Angeles to see if I can make the right moves and get back in the NBA.

 

I’ve played nine games in the NBA. I’ll be at peace if I never add to that, because I’ll know I gave it my best shot. But the dream’s not dead.

 

I’ve just turned 28. That’s not too late. Sometimes it’s as much about being in the right place at the right time and getting a lucky break as it is about how good a player you are.

 

Sometimes it’s even more.

 

I look at some players in the NBA and tell myself, ‘I’m better than him, how’s he on that team?’ You start thinking the NBA is BS, but then you remember it’s not just skills that go into it.

 

You’ve got to convince that one team to give you the chance to make them like you and then you’re good.

 

I know I was close when I did a pre-season with the Washington Wizards before the 2016-17 NBA. In the end, there was just one point guard too many and I was the one who missed out.

 

I’m counting on what I did with Melbourne, when we went to Oklahoma for a pre-season game in October and almost beat the Thunder, putting me back on the NBA radar.

 

I went there to prove myself and I was happy with my performance. I scored 20 points and guarded Russell Westbrook, the reigning league MVP.

 

I take the advice of my dad, Casper senior. He says: ‘Son, don’t hang your head about not being in the NBA. They love you in Melbourne, make sure you play hard for them and do everything you can for them to win a championship. Worry about the NBA when it’s time to worry about it.”

 

So that’s what I’m doing.

 

 

 

FROM LONG BEACH TO THE NBA

Right back as far as I can remember, there’s always been one big constant in my life.

 

Basketball.

 

It was always in me to play. As soon as I could walk, I’d pick up a basketball and take it with me.

 

I had four brothers and two sisters and we’d go and watch my dad do his thing. He didn’t go to the NBA, but he played a little college ball and then in the Drew League, the Venice Beach League . . . street hooping and all that.

 

When I first started playing it was just for fun, but growing up my dad always put me in to play against the older kids and that helped me develop. If you’re always under pressure from bigger guys, you’ve just got to find a way. I started to think I might have something.

 

I wasn’t getting heavily recruited for college from high school, but then Long Beach State came to me and I was pretty excited about that. I thought: ‘OK, if they want me, I can make it. I need to push towards the NBA.’

 

College is hugely competitive. You’ve got to be able to perform every time. There are a lot of players out there and colleges are always ready to try someone new, so you can’t relax. Your role is never secure.

 

I have no regrets from my college career. It went great for me. Every year I got better and better and, in my senior year, we won the Big West tournament in 2012. I scored 33 points against UC Santa Barbara in the final.

 

But if you play four years of college, there’s always a knock on you. People think, ‘Oh, he’s gone to his senior year, he must’ve stopped improving and can’t get any better’.

 

The height thing played a part too.

 

But my thinking was this: I knew I wasn’t going to be a lock to be drafted, so I wasn’t going to leave college early. I wanted to get that behind me.

 

I didn’t get picked up in the 2012 draft, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

 

I played for the Detroit Pistons in the Summer League and then I played for a club in Italy. I came back to play for the Houston Rockets in the 2013 Summer League before joining another Italian club.

 

Then it finally happened. I got a shot at the NBA.

 

 

 

76ERS, NETS & THE WORLD

I signed a 10-day contract for the Philadelphia 76ers in March, 2014. Then another 10-day contract off the back of that. Then another contract for the rest of the season. Philly’s where I played my nine games.

 

Those 10-day contracts are a tough mental test. You can’t think about it like, ‘It’s just 10 days and that’ll probably be it’, or that’s what’ll happen. You’ve got to take it one day at a time and make the best of every opportunity you get.

 

You go hard in practice and, if you get even just one minute or two minutes in a game, you go even harder. You’ve got to make an impression on the people who count in that short amount of time, or else it’s over for you. You’ve got to be ready when your name is called.

 

Even if it’s just cheering for your teammates from the sideline, you’ve got to make the effort.

 

At the end of the season I played the Summer League for the 76ers, but a few months later I was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for a player and a draft pick. I thought, ‘OK, I’ll do my best to make my way here now’, but the next day the Nets waived me.

 

I didn’t see it coming. You never do. The people on the staff at the 76ers said they weren’t aware it was going to happen. They called me about it and said, ‘We’re sorry to hear that, we didn’t know this was going on’. It was one of those things that’s out of your control.

 

I look at some players in the NBA and tell myself, ‘I’m better than him, how’s he on that team?’ You start thinking the NBA is BS, but then you remember it’s not just skills that go into it.

 

What I heard from the Nets before I left was that it wasn’t a basketball decision related to what I’d done on the court, it was just business. You think you’re doing well and it might be a good move and then that happens. It’s crazy.

 

It was very frustrating at the time. You think: ‘Man, when am I going to get my break? What else do I need to do?’ But then you’ve got to realise you’re not the only one going through it. It happens to a lot of players, and you can’t just stop there.

 

You’ve just got to keep going and make the best out of it.

 

My overseas journey began in earnest after that. Over the next couple of years, I played in Germany, China and France and it was mostly good.

 

The language barrier can make it difficult, but once you get into the basketball it’s the same as everywhere else. China was my only real bad experience. I wasn’t getting paid by my club, Tianjin Ronggang, so I had to go to court to fight for my money. I ended up winning.

 

I was sick for a few days after the first time I ate in China. Man, I lived at McDonald’s for a while after that, and I found some little American-type spots I ate at. The rest was just noodles – lots of noodles. I didn’t want to take any risks.

 

My best European experience was in France, with the ASVEL club. We were in a great city, Lyon, and it was an easy transition for me because Tony Parker’s brother, TJ, was the assistant coach there. Plenty of the people involved with the club spoke English.

 

I’ve had two stints with ASVEL, directly before and after I joined Melbourne United last season.

 

 

The opportunity to join Melbourne came up when I got cut by the Wizards after that pre-season there. I’d gone back home for a week and I was looking for a job.

 

It all happened fast. They said they needed me there in a day or two because the season had started and it’s not a long one. I had to make a quick decision and what made it easy for me was that I knew Dave Andersen, one of your long-time Boomers, from playing at ASVEL with him.

 

He was playing for Melbourne, so I talked to him about it and he said it was a great team, great organisation. He’s played all over Europe and in the NBA, so I really trusted in him to tell me the truth.

 

Dave was right. The NBL is fantastic and so is this club – that’s why I came back for a second season. I love the people involved, the fans, everything about it. It’s very competitive. You can’t just walk out there thinking you’ve got a game won. You’ve got to come to play every night.

 

Now we’ve started the finals and it has all gone up a gear. Every play is critical. In the regular season, if you get something wrong you can say ‘OK, that happened, let it go and we can make it up’, but now it’s ‘we need this play and the play after that’.

 

I’m really focused on doing well for the club in these big games. We’re past the New Zealand Breakers now and waiting to see who we’ll play in the grand final series.

 

 

 

PLAYING On WESTBROOK

That pre-season game against OKC was a blast. It was one of those nights where I went in knowing I was going to play and get my chance to show everyone what I can really do and I took it.

 

I played hard against one of the best players in the NBA. I scored 20 points and had six rebounds and three assists and we only lost 86-85. I proved myself in front of a lot of people and that was very satisfying to me.

 

I wasn’t going to back down against Russell Westbrook. I knew he was going to make some shots or whatever, but I went out there to compete and do the best I could on him. I was proud of my effort.

 

There was no talk between us during the game, but afterwards you say, ‘What’s up?’ and, ‘Good game’. We’re both from LA, so we knew of each other a bit, going back. I’d catch him working out in LA a few times, stuff like that.

 

I told him it was great to play against him and he said, ‘Keep working hard’. That’s the biggest thing, just having people out there knowing you deserve something and that they respect you as a basketball player. It’s just a quick thing, but it matters.

 

 

I hope what I did in that game attracted the attention of some NBA teams and I get invited to another pre-season camp. But if there are any opportunities available to me, whether it’s pre-season training or even playing in the Summer League, I’ll have to make some very smart decisions.

 

Teams are not going to tell you straight up if they just want you there to fill out the numbers at pre-season training and there’s no chance of them actually signing you.

 

You’ve got to listen to what they say, look at their roster and make up your own mind whether you’re a chance or not. Someone’s body language when they’re talking to you – any little clue. You rely on your agent for information as well, but sometimes they’re just guessing too.

 

It’s just the way it is.

 

All I can do is try to put myself in the best possible situation and give it everything I’ve got.

 

After that, whatever will be, will be.

 

 

          

 

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