Learn more about a Kings Summer League Team invitee’s overseas playing experience, hockey roots and more.
As a former hockey player, Drew Gordon recognizes the value of toughness and playing with an edge.
“I think hockey helped out my competitive spirit at a young age, because I was going against older kids my whole career,” says Gordon. “I think it (made) me really competitive really early, and I have to give my intensity to hockey.”
On the hardwood, the 6-foot-9 forward has been aggressive in crashing the glass while utilizing his size and strength to score in the post, averaging a team-high 8.0 rebounds and connecting on 53.3 percent from the field through two Summer League games.
“That’s what I want to do – that’s the goal,” says the New Mexico product. “I set the bar pretty high, and hopefully I can maintain that type of performance.”
Following a recent practice, the 2012 Mountain West Conference Tournament MVP took a timeout to discuss his time on the ice, playing in Serbia last season and much more.
How long did you play hockey?
“I played ice hockey for eight years – it was a lot of fun. Then, I turned into a giant, so my hockey career was short-lived. It was up to a point where it was getting serious, but I had a couple of head injures and it was starting to distract me from my schoolwork because we were traveling so much.
“Once I stopped playing hockey, I got bored quickly and picked up a basketball, and here I am today.”
Who were some of your basketball role models growing up?
“I really looked up to my pops, to be honest – he was a heck of a basketball player. Then, I really liked Magic (Johnson) and (Michael) Jordan. I actually liked Dennis Rodman, too. I just liked the people who were tough as nails and hard-workers.”
You spent the previous year suiting up for Partizan in Serbia and Dinamo Sassari in Italy. How would you characterize your overseas experience?
“I was in Serbia for about seven months and then I ended up in Italy at the end of the year, playing for a team in Sardinia – it’s the island right off the boot of Italy. That was fun.
“In Serbia, I was the only American and it was a (unique) environment. I was not expecting it to be my first professional experience. They had the Special Forces getting people into their seats instead of ushers. You had to play basketball, but you also had to worry about (being hit by) anything that people could throw at you – coins, lighters, bottles, sunflower seeds – it was crazy.”
How did you spend your time off the court?
“I didn’t do a lot – a lot of Skype. And I think I caught up on just about every movie you can possibly imagine. It was cold and it was snowing, so I didn’t want to be outside.”
What areas of your game have you focused on improving over the past year?
“A lot of my face-up game – (mainly) jumpshots. I was such a raw (prospect) – there’s so much potential that still needed to be filled, even when I was graduating (college). I really tried to take advantage of that and refine everything.”
How would you characterize your game?
“I’m just a hustle guy – I do what needs to get done and do it without complaining. I can’t really label myself as something, because coaches want to play me at (power forward), they want to play me at (center), defend (small forwards). I just do what I’m told, basically.”
This is your third Summer League Team. How much do you feel your past experience has helped you?
“I played for Dallas last year – it was a good experience (even though) I didn’t make the squad. I just played for Utah in Orlando (Summer League), so that definitely got me in a little bit better shape. I went though all the double-days and played a few games. I think it really helped me out to be mentally prepared for what I’m about to get into.”
How quickly have you picked up the Kings playbook and adjusted to the team’s style of play?
“I’ve had a chance to sit down and review the plays on my off-time (and) get caught up. I missed two days of training with these guys, so coming in late, you have to make sure you do everything you possibly can to pick up the slack and make sure you’re right in stride with everybody else.”
How much have you enjoyed working with the Kings coaching staff?
“This coaching staff is great. They’re really personable, they like to know their players and they really help you out and want you to get better. It’s not just about winning Summer League (games) – they actually try to coach and train you to get better along the way. It’s refreshing.”
What’s a little-known fact about you that you’d like to share with Kings fans?
“I’m extremely terrified of the ocean – it’s an unreasonable fear, a phobia almost. I don’t know where it comes from, but you couldn’t pay me to get in the ocean. Pools are good and you’ll find me on the beach in the sand – but too many dangerous things in the ocean, I think.”
Catch Gordon and the Kings take on Jonas Valanciunas and the Raptors today at 3 p.m. PDT on NBA TV and Summer League Live.