Repost: Carlan Gay of NBA.com via nblcanada.ca
This month's Canadian Report Q&A is with former Canadian national team media Carl English. English has been one of the best Canadian pros for years and has seen success in many leagues globally including the ACB and GBL (Greek Basket League). Now, English is back at home in Canada playing in the NBL Canada for his hometown team the St John's Edge. At 37, English was named the league's most valuable player and Canadian of the year last season.
Ahead of his second season back home with the Edge he took some time out to chat with NBA.com about the experience.
NBA.com: When did you make the decision to play in the league (NBLC)?
Carl English: That was a tough one…not going to lie that was probably one of the toughest ones in my career. I was in Athens and I was training with Olympiacos - who's a European powerhouse obviously and it was very close I was playing really well - and we were talking contracts we were talking numbers and this was becoming a reality to play for them. In one of the warmups Kim Tillie the four went down and they had to go out and sign another American so they lost the spot that they were going to use on me because my passport is not valid in Greece - that was tough. Rather than stay around there and continue to look I had other options in Greece but I was at the stage where I had and wanted to take my family with me I didn't want us to be apart. There was only a handful maybe two or three teams in Greece and European that I was going to play for…So I came back home training and trying to figure it all out and things were heating up with the Edge and I was going back and forth with ownership and I truly felt that my family didn't want to leave. My wife was fine but more so my kids I have three kids and two are older at the time eight and seven they were kind of…they really didn't want to leave home. So I said you know let's think about this St. John's Edge offer really consider it and really look what are the positives what are the negatives. I'd say I took almost six weeks and I was going well what if this and what happens if that and I was thinking all of the good things I could do here for the province and for basketball in Canada. And you know just the chance to be at home and play in front of family and friends…They were training on one side of the court and I was on the other two courts every day and I'd heard how training and stuff was going…in the end it all worked out and we decided to sign with the St Johns Edge. The buzz was created but up to that point there was two days before the season started and I think they were at 700-800 maybe 1000 tickets and in a couple of days we pretty much sold out so it was a pretty big buzz all around the whole city.
NBA.com: You mention playing at home, was there a moment you realized that it was time to be home...this is where I want to be?
CE: Oh yeah that was something that was always on the positive side that's for sure. Most of the negative things I was thinking of were more financial or more like what ifs but I felt if I could be involved I would put my flair on it my thoughts and feelings and bring in what I've done for the last fifteen years and really help the organization. These are the kinds of things that were going through my head but literally there a page with some positives and some negatives, basically I was going over those options with anybody that was willing to listen from my wife to my brothers, old coaches and it was always these conversations of what should I do what should I do. So yes for sure that definitely ran through my mind many times and then it's kind of like a full circle because this is where it all started for me and then I had to leave, to get recruited, I had to leave to get scouted, I left when I was 16 years old…now 20 years later coming back and playing professional basketball where it all started out for me was pretty surreal.
NBA.com: Your first year was incredible...MVP, Canadian of the year where does last season fall on your career highlight list?
CE: I mean it's up there, I don't want to sound like I'm bragging or anything but I've been fortunate to have a pretty successful career in the places I've played. There have been polls that have come out that have got me on some of the top Canadians of all time lists. The fact that I wasn't in the NBA has always haunted me but it still hasn't changed the places I've played, the level of competition I've played and the things I've done on international stages from my pro and college career but to come home and play even though it wasn't the same level of what I was used to but to come home and do this in front of family and friends and be an ambassador to the sport and the game…in the community so many kids and families that we touch and I touched personally I think they did a survey or stat…I brought in this thing after the games that we would sign autographs every game unless it was a back-to-back…there was nights I'd sign autographs for an hour, hour and a half the line would be right around the gym, but I'd come out and sign autographs and take pictures…I think they said the numbers were over 40-50k that I signed or took a picture with over the course of the season…it was pretty amazing.
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