Andre Emmett did not expect his basketball career to turn into a world tour. The stops along the way have become difficult for even the 32-year-old to track.
Texas Tech-Memphis-Austin-Lithuania-Los Angeles-Belgium-France-Venezuela-China-Puerto Rico-Lebanon-Mexico and back again.
11 years, 9 countries, 18 teams.
“I’ve got a lot of stamps on my passport,” Emmett said.
But he was here, at the Barclays Center on All-Star Weekend in New York City, because of 73 minutes — the amount of action he’s seen in the NBA.
On Sunday afternoon, the NBA Development League’s elder statesman outplayed everyone on the court, scoring 28 points to win the All-Star Game MVP award. But, along with the work he’s put in for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as the league’s fifth leading scorer (21.3 PPG), will it be enough to return to the peak of pro basketball?
“I don’t know, man. You never know,” said Emmett, who has appeared in eight games with the Grizzlies during his rookie season (2004-05), six with the Nets in 2011-12 and 148 in the NBA’s minor league. “I’m just being patient, keep grinding, and just hoping and praying something good comes out of it.”
Damien Wilkins, the league’s oldest player, can relate.
At 35, he’s worn six different NBA uniforms since entering the pros the same year as Emmett, and ranks right behind his fellow vet among the scoring leaders (20.8 PPG). They’ve seen more in their careers than the rest of the All-Stars combined — though 10 other players on the rosters have reached the NBA in their young careers.
“Like myself, he’s just hungry to get back,” Wilkins, the Iowa Energy’s locker room leader, said of Emmett. “Once you’ve tasted it like we have, you’re just dying to get back and you’ll do anything to make that happen.”
Emmett has made that much clear while schooling a league of young NBA hopefuls with an old-school game, posting up wings on the block and slashing into the paint. Like clock work, he did the same on Sunday to rally the Eastern Conference Futures team to a 129-94 rout of the Western Conference Prospects.
As for his own future, the man of 18 teams laid out four goals for the second half of his 12th pro season.
“Continue to get better. Lead my team. Be patient,” he said. “And get that call.”