Europe Interview: Joe Alexander
Joe Alexander, the eighth overall pick to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2008 NBA Draft, was not able to meet expectations during his brief NBA career due to injures, but the 25-year-old wing was not going to give up his dream.
After a few attemtps to get back to the NBA, Alexander went to Russia and signed with Krasnye Krylya Samara last summer. Alexander averaged 8.7 points, 3.8 rebounds in 22 minutes in this Russian championship this season before injuries stuck again. Just couple of days ago Alexander parted ways with Krasnye Krylya and returned to the States where he continues his rehabilitation.
Alexander talked with RealGM about his NBA experience, the Bucks and Russia.
First of all, do you think leaving West Virginia after your junior year was the best decision?
It was definitely the best thing to do at that time. West Virginia had just completed a terrific season, so I felt like I was done there, and it was okay to move on. And I was thristy to challenge the NBA players.
Did you expect to be called so early in NBA Draft?
I was not certain when I would be called. There is a lot of uncertainty on draft day for almost everyone, and I had hoped to be called early. But in the days leading up to the draft I just did not know for sure.
In your opinion, were the Bucks the right team for you at that time?
There were other teams that could have been better for me, but Milwaukee was not a bad place or a bad team. Like in any situation in life, it is up to a person to make the most out of what they are given, and to make it into something positive. I am happy with what I was able to produce in Milwaukee, and I think I improved a lot as a player and learned a lot while I was there.
What were the main reasons of you struggling to adapt to NBA game?
Well, adapting to the NBA game was never a problem. The problem I had was getting injured, and never being able to play healthy during my two years in the NBA. If I did not have those injuries, things would be different.
If you would have a chance to change something, would you do anything different at the beginning of your NBA career?
I would do everything differently. Being young in the NBA is a struggle, and there is a lot to learn. If I could go back, I would probably change every single thing that I did, both on the court and off the court.
Did living abroad while growing up help you to adapt to Russia easier?
I think it has helped me a lot, yes. The main struggle when you live somewhere new is learning to enjoy the area, have a positibe outlook on it, and not being afraid of things that are different. I feel very comfortable being away from the United States, so coming to Russia was something that I had a positive outlook on from the very start, and that definitely helped me to enjoy it.
Which things in Russia surprised you the most?
How quickly it changes from winter to summer, and how delicious all the soup is.
Was money the only reason you decided to go to Europe instead of staying in the D-League?
No, I wanted to experience the European game because it is a different style of basketball. Whenever you have new experiences you get to learn from them and take things with you when you leave, and I thought that Europe would provide that type of learning opportunity.
As you are still only 25, do you plan to make a comeback to the NBA or you see yourself more as an European player?
I think that the future is uncertain. But in either case, I will get to play basketball, and get to travel around and have fun while I do it, so I think that it will only be good no matter what happens. I would like to play in the NBA again, but I would also like to play in some European countries, so for right now I just can't anticipate what will happen.
Did you learn anything in Europe, which you could use back in the NBA?
I learned how to shoot three pointers from Dragan Labovic.