(E) Money?s not an issue. It?s more playing time
Sundov would rather play in CBA than ride bench in NBA
Feb. 5, 2004
By Michael Osipoff / Post-Tribune staff writer
Ask CBA players about their ultimate goal and most, if not all, will say to make it to the NBA.
Bruno Sundov, the Steelheads’ newly-signed 7-foot-2 center, has been there, done that. But he wants more, wants to do it on his terms. He wants to play in the NBA.
For five-plus seasons, Sundov has bounced around and landed on five NBA rosters, from the Mavericks to the Pacers to the Celtics to the Cavaliers to the Knicks. In that time, he essentially has played one full season: 81 games, averaging 1.8 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.6 minutes.
To him, that’s unacceptable.
“With the NBA, I was just sick and tired of doing nothing,” he said. “It’s fun, but if you don’t play, it’s not fun. It was enough. I just want to play. This is a good situation. I need to get my game back, and help the team get wins.”
He thought his game plateaued, has been accumulating rust. A native of Croatia, he considered offers to play overseas. He preferred the exposure of playing domestically.
Not that he would jump at the first NBA offer to come his way. As Steelheads coach Duane Ticknor said, “He could still be in the NBA right now, but he wants to play. Most of the guys here are trying to get there; he’s trying to become a factor. With five years (in the NBA), money’s not an issue. It’s more playing time.”
So, if it means playing the rest of the season with the Steelheads, then working over the summer and seeing what happens when next NBA season rolls around, so be it. He has opted to sacrifice in the short-term, hoping he will be rewarded in the longer-term.
“If it’s just for practice, I wouldn’t go (to the NBA),” Sundov said. “If it’s 10, 15 minutes in the rotation, I’ll go. With my background, I can ask for that. You have to earn minutes, I know that. But I never got a chance to show what I can do.”
Coaches’ decisions and injuries have combined to limit his chances.
Sundov, who turns 24 on Feb. 10, was selected by the Mavericks in the second round (35th overall) in the 1998 NBA Draft. At 19, he became the youngest player in Dallas history when he made his first appearance on April 21, 1999. This came after he didn’t sign until March 29, and then spending until April 17 on the injured list. He spent time on the injured list in 1999-2000, and missed 52 games in 2000-01 with assorted ailments.
With the injuries behind him, the most games he has played in a single season is 26, with the Celtics last season. Most recently, he completed a 10-day contract with the Knicks, appearing in one game, after appearing in four with the Cavaliers early in the season.
He seemed pleased after Tuesday’s practice, his first with the Steelheads.
“The NBA doesn’t practice like this — banging, up and down, like a game situation,” he said.
“The pace is up a little bit. It’s not what I’m used to. But I can adjust quick. You have to adjust to all types.”
From his experience, NBA practices focused more on tactics, game review, personnel review. Some teams had individual workouts with their players, but it wasn’t the same as live competition.
“Let’s get the ball and let’s go,” Sundov said. “I wanna help this team go all the way. You have to set high goals and shoot for them.”
Like not just making it to the NBA, but contributing.