DJ Stephens: Year 5

I’ve been on a lot of ups and downs up to this point in my career, and life has been easy at times and hard as well. I’ve had to make many adjustments and overcome many obstacles, but no matter the task I’ve always tried to find a way. Been playing this game 20 plus years and the same game that’s brought me some of my happiest moments has brought me some of my most heartbreaking as well. 
Le Mans, France is the temporary location for the next 9 months, and out of all the places I’ve been, this is probably the most comfortable I’ve been since I started playing professionally overseas. The city is beautiful and a lot bigger than I initially expected. The people are nice, I have cool teammates that I get along with, a great coaching staff, and the team is really professional and they take good care of us here. It’s just an overall great situation, that I feel will help catapult me to where I want to be next season. 


People always have these preconceived notions that, if you play basketball overseas, you make a lot of money, it’s great and you get to enjoy yourself, and that’s not always the case. The money thing depends on what league (country) you play in, what team you play for, and the resume you’ve built up over the years. There’s a bunch of different factors that tie into whether you can have a happy successful year or one that seems like a long, drawn out nightmare. You spend the majority of the year away from your friends, family, and everything you know. And until you actually come over here for an extended period of time you wouldn’t really understand. Being overseas, you’re out of your comfort zone. There’s a 7 hour time difference here and more than half my day, I can’t communicate with anyone in the states, cause you all are sleeping part of the time I’m awake. The language barrier, is something you have to learn to overcome, and doing something as simple as ordering a cheeseburger with no onions, can become quite the task when the cashier or waitress doesn’t speak English. You tend to play a little game of, “I’m going to keep repeating this in my language and pray that somehow you understand me”. If you’re in a situation where you’re unhappy on the court, that can make the time go by slower, and make it an unenjoyable experience as well. Sometimes you get on teams where, the coach felt a certain type of way before you arrived or during a part of the season, but he doesn’t like you as a player anymore, and he could give you less playing time, and not include you in the offense, or sometimes guys simply get cut. It can be a really cut throat business, but I’ve been blessed enough to not have to worry about that while overseas, although I’ve been cut from 4 different NBA teams. 


We played our final preseason game last night. This preseason has been pretty interesting for me, because in the past I’ve went to training camp with NBA teams so I usually miss preseason overseas. I’ve learned a little about myself in the past month, because it hasn’t been pretty and I’ve grown frustrated with myself. Two things I truly hate, are to play bad when I know the level I know I’m capable of playing at, and when I struggle shooting the ball. Both bother me because I’m probably my worst critic, and I know all the work I’ve put in over the years, so sometimes I overthink the situation instead of just trusting the work I’ve put in. Generally, I put extra pressure on myself because I always want to play at my best, but I was forgetting that some of the things that were going wrong were just adjustments of being on a new team. Learning a new offense, learning how my teammates play, adjusting to how we defend and different rotations, and just figuring out spots that I can be affective on the game, offensively and defensively. I struggled earlier on but as preseason went on, I progressively got better and finished pretty strong. I just have to always stay focused and trust in myself and the process, it’s a long season and I have to overcome any obstacle that may come. 


I’m really excited about this year, I feel that we have a great team, and I feel like it’s going to be a huge year for me. Plus, this will be the first year that my kids will come over and spend some time with me. It’s hard always having to see them through an iPad screen for months at a time, or not being able to hug or kiss them. I’ve missed so much time, and I’ve missed birthdays, and key moments in their life because I had to be away playing basketball. I hope and I pray that when they get older, they understand and appreciate the reasons that I had to be away when I was, and despite me missing moments of their childhood, they know that I love and care for them more than anything on this earth, and a part of me being over here, is for them and their future. 


First game of the regular season is September 23, and I’m ready. Let’s get it!

-DJ Stephens 

3 Comments

  1. Welcome to Le Mans.
    Thé french league is a vault next best europeans leagues or back G-league or NBA.

    Good Luck and go MSB go

  2. DJ,
    I simply adore you, and if I could hug you right now, I would squeeze you so hard. I felt every word utter from your post. You will get back to an NBA team’s roster very soon, because you will push yourself to it. Remember that the race is not given to the swift and nor to the strong, but to the one who can endure to the end. It’s not over, so keep believing, working and putting up the numbers so they cannot continue to deny you!

    Muah love,

    LUcky

  3. Another thing: Purchase a speech translator. Its small and inexpensive, where you can speak in English what you want, then set it to repeat it in any foreign language. I used one in Paris for the past 5 times I have visited. I ventured out in to the rural areas because it was so effective in helping me to communicate with people. Bon chance (Good luck), bae
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