There are players at age 29 that have played six or seven years of professional basketball, maybe won a few titles and have seen many countries in Europe. Then again there may only be a few other guys that are also 29 and only have a rookie season under their belt, but have had an incredibly moving and rapid life where they could probably write a best selling book about their experiences. One of those guys is Derrick Gordon. He is playing his second professional season in Germany in 2021-2022 for Pro A team Romerstrom Gladiators. He played his rookie season in Cyprus last season. This all sounds like a normal procedure and would be if he was 23 or 24, but he is 29 and has experienced so much in his life before turning professional that he could easily retire tomorrow and just go around the globe doing public speaking about his out of the ordinary life where he would do more than Ok. But he is a professional basketball player and just loves the game and still wants to achieve so much as a player. To put his life in a little nut shell, he had to deal with his twin brother getting into trouble as they were youths, played for three NCAA schools and reached the NCAA tournament with each team, came out in 2014, and dabbled with being a fire fighter and in acting while not playing basketball from 2016-2020. The guy has seen so much in his short life and he most likely must have thought a number of times where he would be today had he made other decisions in his life. His biggest choice in his life was coming out in 2014. It was a time in his life where he was at a cross road in his NCAA career, but choosing to tell the world that he was gay was one that he never regretted. “I truly believe if I didn’t come out I would have been in the NBA right now. But coming out was the best decision I have ever made. Being happy is the most important thing and I didn’t want to live a lie. I always tell people if I could COME OUT everyday I would do so happily and I to help and inspire others to be themselves. It changed my life for the better. Like I said before I don’t have to live a lie. The fact that I’m out and proud and on top am a professional basketball player. There are more positives then negatives. Of course I lost some friends but they weren’t my friends to begin with”, warned Derrick Gordon.
Derrick Gordon who believes that Lebron James is the greatest player of all-time was born on December 12th, 1991 in Plainfield, New Jersey. He attended St Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He had a troubled childhood in that he had to witness his twin brother Darryl be married to a life of crime as drugs and shooting a man got him five years in prison while Derrick was in high school and throughout his NCAA career. Darryl was finally released from prison when Derrick was enrolled at the University of Massachusetts (NCAA).The whole experience having to see his brother in prison was very difficult as he always carried a photo of them both and also got a Tattoo made over his heart MBK(my brother´s keeper). On top of all the drama with his twin brother, he also had the insecurity of being gay and trying to deal with it as best as possible. Despite him and Darryl having massive hardships in the past, now in 2021 life is great for both, but he will never forget his youth and college years where life was at times unbearable. “I am very close to my twin brother. We talk all the time. He is basically like my other half. It messed me up mentally when he was in jail but now that he is out and doing much better in his life I’m very happy”, stressed Derrick Gordon. The American began his NCAA career at Western Kentucky University (NCAA) in 2011. He had a very solid freshman year playing 35 games for the Hilltoppers averaging 11.8ppg, 6.7rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 40.6%, 3PT: 26.6%, FT: 68.9%. He scored in double figures in 21 games and registered 4 double doubles. In his first NCAA game he scored 25 points in a loss against St Joseph´s going 16/18 from the free throw line. He was the best player on the court that day and held his own against future NBA player Langston Gallaway. He reached the NCAA tournament as a freshman and lost against powerhouse Kentucky 81-66 that had a nonending menu of future NBA players with Anthony Davis, Terence Jones, Michael Gilchrist(high school teammate and best friend), Doron Lamb, Darius Miller and Kyle Wiltjer. He held his own scoring 10 points and also remembered vividly which Wild Cat stood out the most to him. “I knew most of those guys were going to the NBA. I felt I could have played much better than I did. But at least if we lost to someone it was to a team that ended up winning the whole thing. Anthony Davis for sure was hands down at that time the best player in college basketball because of his size and what he was able to do”, stated Derrick Gordon. Despite achieving so much in his first year in the NCAA, his future would be elsewhere. “I had a great freshmen year but needed a change and that is how I ended up at UMass Amherst. I knew the sky was the limit and I wanted to prove that”, expressed Derrick Gordon.
The American who got the best of future NBA player Chris Dunn the two times he faced him in the NCAA then played at the University of Massachusetts (NCAA) from 2013-2015. In his first season at UMass he played 32 games averaging 9.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 47.5%, FT: 52.3%. This was also the peak of his problems that he had with who he was. The whole gay issue was eating at him so seriously that he just didn´t want to hide anymore. He probably could have came out sooner, but he was always waiting for someone else to do it in the NCAA, so he just decided to do it himself. He drew praise from ex NBA player Jason Collins and NFL player Michael Sam for having the courage to come out . “That was a rough year because that was the same time where I was struggling with who I am as a person and it had an impact on my game. Struggling with that was one of the hardest things I went through and that is why I had to come out”, remembered Derrick Gordon. He lost to Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA tournament. In his second season at UMass he played 32 games averaging 9.8ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 8.3%, FT: 73.6%. Despite all that he went through in his two years at UMass, he was very thankful for having an understanding and helpful coach like Derek Kellog. “He was great, was a great mentor for me off the court too and was their every step of the way with my coming out process”, stated Derrick Gordon. In his last year at UMass he scored in double figures in 14 games including 20 points and 17 points in wins over Fordham.
The American who lists his best teammates of all-time everyone on his Seton Hall team would play one more NCAA season with them and had his biggest achievement winning the Big east tournament. He played 34 games averaging 8.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 27.8%, FT: 58.7%. He was teammates with future NBA player Isaiah Whitehead who he remembered as a very special player and had no hard feelings that he went to the big show and he didn´t. “Everyone is different, Isaiah is a great player and I’m a great player. Everyone’s journey is different”, stressed Derrick Gordon. He scored in double figures in 11 games including 15 points in a win over Providence and 14 points in a win over Dartmouth. He reached a third NCAA tournament and bowed out to Gonzaga 68-52 where he contributed 10 points. “I had a solid game but it clearly wasn’t enough. We played in Denver where it was very hard to breathe there which had an impact on us”, remembered Derrick Gordon. Reaching a third NCAA tournament with three different teams is mind boggling and that record still stands today. “It just shows the type of player that I am and what I can bring to a team. A winning mindset and doing whatever it takes”, warned Derrick Gordon. He was very fortunate to have a coach in Kevin Willard that understood his needs on the floor. “He just wanted me to play hard and let everything take care of itself. He knew the type of player I was and the impact that I had on my last two teams so he really just let me play my game”, added Derrick Gordon.
Usually after a solid NCAA career, the next step for a player will be the NBA or overseas, but Derrick Gordon who last watched the flick The Conjuring 3 The Devil Made Me Do It just didn´t have a one track mind at that moment, but rather wanted to experience different interests. During the summer of 2016 he announced that he was training to become a San Francisco firefighter. However that new dream was short lived as he left firefighter training after only 2 months and did not complete the training. In 2017 he announced that he was going to make another attempt to play basketball professionally. He hired an agent but did not receive any offers. Later that year he went on to pursue acting and writing. He received his first acting job to play Marshawn in an upcoming movie ‘Conundrum: Secrets Among Friends’ to be released in 2018. The firefighting gig and acting gig were short term and short lived, but all in all, he wouldn´t have traded in those experiences for anything in the world. “I went to the firefighter boot camp in San Francisco which was a great experience. But the more I looked at it I just couldn’t see myself doing it long term. But it did seem cool and amazing at the time I will say that. With acting I had a lead role movie coming up that I was preparing for and then the pandemic hit and stopped everything. I was just getting my foot in the door. I did a pilot in NYC for a tv show which was a lot of fun. I will say this you have to love it in order to stay focused and want to continue to keep doing it. But that’s with anything else right?”, expressed Derrick Gordon.
After not playing organized basketball from 2016-2020, he finally got the playing itching bug again and coming back in 2020 wasn´t that tough, because he never got lazy in those 4 years, but was a regular visitor in the gym. “I’ve always stayed in great shape, I love working out and I did it more once I stopped playing for those 3 years. It was more getting back to basketball shape which is a bit different and the running and sliding, etc. It took me a couple games to find my mojo”, smiled Derrick Gordon. He played his rookie season in 20-21 with BC Apollon Limassol (Cyprus-OPAP Basket League) playing 20 games averaging 12.7ppg, 5.4rpg, 3.0apg, Steals-5(2.0spg), FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 56.1%. What was really impressive was that for a guy that hadn´t played in four years and had no resume except for the NCAA, was that he was able to land with one of the top agencies in the business with Wasserman. “George David who is my agent and we ran into each other in LA and he knew of my coming out story and stopped me and asked why wasn’t I still playing basketball. Once I did my research on Wasserman I was shocked and pretty impressed to find out how big of an agency they were. Long story short we both knew the challenges in to getting back into the sport since it was at the time been 3 years since I’ve played basketball. I was able to luck out and get a job offer in Cyprus and played for Apollon Limassol”, said Derrick Gordon Every American who comes over to Europe has a wake up call and for him it was one that many guys struggle with. “Being a single guy and away from family and friends was the hardest thing for me. You miss out on birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It can be rough but it comes with playing professional basketball in Europe”, commented Derrick Gordon. He scored in double figures in 14 games including a 23 point and 20 point games in loses to E.N. Paralimni. For a guy who had been away from competitive ball for 4 years, he definitely had no adjustment period in Cyprus. “I was able to catch on to the style of play there, which didn’t take long. I was more focused on getting back to how I use to play since I took 3 years off. I am curious as to how different it will be once I’m in Germany”, stressed Derrick Gordon. He was also very fortunate to have had some real down to earth veterans on the team with ex NBA player Joey Dorsey and American Jeff Allen who were always there for him. “Joey Dorsey and Jeff Allen both kind of took me under their wing and told me things to expect and how to get through things mentally which I’m very grateful for them doing that”, said Derrick Gordon. One also can´t forget that not only was he able to adapt to basketball after four years off, but he also had no real adjustment time having to deal with COVID as he profited it from it in many ways. “I’m a pretty low key guy so I can be a bit of a home body. I don’t need to be out and about all of the time, my health is the most important thing. When not playing basketball it was a lot of movies and video games that kept me busy. I would say it for sure made me stronger mentally. I’ve been dealing with Anxiety for 2 years now so just keeping myself busy was the most important thing. It made me stronger to stay safe and put my health #1 over everything else”, warned Derrick Gordon.
Let´s fast forward to 2021 as Derrick Gordon who hasn´t seen the sequel to Coming To America as he is more of a Scary Movie guy is playing his second professional season in Germany with Trier. After a solid season in Cyprus, he didn´t waste any time finding a new team so he wouldn´t have to be worrying in July about where he would be playing. “I´m extremely grateful and thankful. I have such an amazing agent and I´m glad to sign very early. It takes a lot of stress away and I can have a relaxing summer and focus on just working out and getting ready for the upcoming season”, added Derrick Gordon. He also found out rapidly that playing with the Romerstrom Gladiators was a no brainer. “Playing in Germany was always a dream country of mine. The fact that I can play basketball there and experience Germany as well is a dream come true. Talking with Coach Marco Van Den Berg and what he wanted from me as a player and to bring to the team I wanted the same thing. It’s a great opportunity for me as a player and continue to grow”, stated Derick Gordon. He feels no pressure to have to prove himself again and knows exactly what is on his agenda this season with the Romerstrom Gladiators. “I feel after not playing basketball for 3 years and having a decent season I would say isn’t bad. But I have so much more in the tank and what I’m truly capable of doing on the court which I will focus on this summer. I do have personal goals but the main goal for me is to win a championship, that’s what matters the most”, warned Derrick Gordon. When you watch film on him, it quickly becomes apparent that his game resembles that of Russell Westbrook. “I can do a little bit of everything. Shooting, driving, getting my teammates involved. It’s so much that I am ready to show with my game. There are some other comparisons I believe in my game but I will let everyone else decide once they see me play”, said Derrick Gordon. He has a motor that just goes and has the ability to take over a game on both ends of the court. It will be interesting to see this season just how much of an impact he will have on the defensive end. You can expect fierce battles every night when he is on the court. “Stopping the other team’s best player from scoring is what I enjoy most. I guarded a lot of players in my past like Austin Rivers and Kyrie Irving so I feel I can guard anyone”, warned Derrick Gordon. This summer he had a lot of time to continue to grind in the lab as he worked on all areas of his game to become the total package and a guy that can do it all on the offensive end. One thing is for sure, if there is ever a very boring and dull moment in a Gladiators 9 hour bus ride to Rostock, Derrick Gordon will be able to tell enough eye opening stories about life where he will get the young German players thinking about the meaning of life.