Dear Young Euroleague Stars,
This letter is to you (Milenko Tepic, Emir Preldzic, Nando De Colo, Sergio Lull, Jan Vesely, Christian Eyenga, and others) the rising stars of European basketball. As 2nd round draft picks or undrafted NBA free agents you have two chooses: stay and become a star in Europe or be a bench rotation player in the NBA. The NBA is the highest level of basketball in the world and what most all players growing up shoot for, but don’t forget about the Euroleague. This isn’t a stepping stone to a better place, it is that better place. Look at the careers of Theo Papaloukas, Sarunas Jasikevicius, and Ramunas Siskauskas. These players and others are legends in Europe and regarded by fans as some of the greatest basketball players ever.
By staying in the Euroleague you can become key players on championship teams and find yourselves on first and second All-Euroleague teams year after year. In the NBA you will be in a foreign country far from home where the game of basketball is played a lot differently. In Europe you can play in your home country, be regarded as one of the best players in one of the World’s best leagues, and become a European legend. Theo Papaloukas never had to prove anything in the NBA, but he is still viewed by many in Europe and the United States as one of the best passers in the world. That could be you Sergio Lull as you lead your hometown Real Madrid to a Euroleague Crown as you hold the Final Four MVP trophy over your head basking in a sea of confetti.
Look at the career of Sarunas Jasikevicius who was named one of the 50 greatest contributors to the Euroleague along with Theo. He was a star in the Euroleague winning multiple championships as a gritty clutch shooting point guard. He decided to try his hand at the NBA where he became the 10th man on two different teams. Now he is back in Europe with another championship ring as he was one of the main players who helped Panathiniakos to win this year’s Final Four.
Did I mention that getting paid like a top-end European player is a lot more than the NBA veteran minimium. European stars such as Vassilis Spanoulis, Victor Khryapa, or Raul Lopez all went to the NBA for a year or two and realized that they would rather be impact players in Europe than backups in the NBA. In the end it’s your decision, but as your personal adviser I suggest Euroleague stardom over an NBA bench.