DeAndre Jordan has starred as the starting pivot for Team USA at the Rio Olympics, but the big man hasn't always been appreciated for his talents.
It was only last summer that the 28-year-old had verbally agreed to sign with the Dallas Mavericks after he had grown frustrated with his role for the L.A. Clippers.
He was sick of playing third fiddle to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, but, ultimately, the center had a change of heart and remained in the City of Angels.
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Team USA appears to have been a cathartic experience for Jordan and he has reveled in the opportunity.
“It’s cool, man,” Jordan told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s fun to be finally be able to have something to call your own a little bit.”
After being named to the All-NBA First Team, as well as the NBA All-Defensive First Team, Jordan was still hungry to represent the Stars and Stripes this summer.
“I really wanted to play (on this team),” Jordan said. “If I didn’t, then I would have worked my (expletive) off in the summer and got ready for the (NBA) season. But when the opportunity came, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m down. I’m going. I’m playing.’
“From the journey that I’ve had in this league, from being a second-round pick (out of Texas A&M in 2008), falling in the draft, not playing a lot my first two years and then finally playing a little bit, and kind of coming up short a little bit each year. But this is cool to be one of the 12 guys to represent the whole country on the basketball court.”
The Clippers No.6 has come a long way from the second round of the draft. If he can claim a gold medal on Sunday night against Serbia, he may finally have the belief in himself that deserted him when Dallas came calling.