Donning No. 20 for B.C. Budivelnyk, his main focus is on leading his current team to wins. However, if an NBA general manager were to reach out to him to inquire about his availability, he already knows what he’ll say. “To every NBA GM out there, if I could have a one-on-one conversation with them, I’d just say, ‘If you give me this opportunity, I promise you will not regret it,’” Stephens said. “’It will be one of the best decisions that you’ve ever made in your life.’ Any position that I’ve ever been put in basketball-wise, people have always expected a certain thing out of a situation and I’ve always made that situation into more than what they thought it was going to be. I’ve always overachieved in whatever it was. “Man, I’ll do whatever it takes to stay. I need to get that one legit chance or opportunity.”
In the Grizzlies’ final preseason game on Oct. 19 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Stephens noticed Troy Williams, a rookie out of Indiana, wasn’t getting his normal minutes through the first three quarters of the game. “I could tell coach was letting everyone play … but I noticed Troy Williams wasn’t getting in the game and I was like, ‘Why is he not playing?’” Stephens said, “So while I’m playing, I’m thinking of all this stuff and I’m like ‘Please don’t tell me they’ve already decided this kid is going to make the team,’ so I’m thinking about it the whole game so I’m like, ‘Shit,’ and I’m missing shots and … and the more and more I’m thinking about it, the more things are spiraling out of control and I’m playing worse and worse and worse, I was just –wow.”
It’s all a part of the long-term plan for Stephens, though, to acquire as much of a financial cushion as he can while he can still play the game he loves to provide for his daughters. “It’s unfortunate that you have to do some of the things you have to do, but the tradeoff that I can still play basketball and still make a good amount of money while doing it,” Stephens said. “I mean, I can’t really complain too much.”
Morrow: Your goal shouldn’t be to make it to the NBA. Instead, your focus right now should be to find a place that will pay you to play basketball for at least the next year. Don’t put all that pressure on yourself by thinking too far ahead. Hell, I was almost playing in Ukraine right out of college — and I was hyped! I knew it was freezing out there but I didn’t give a shit. I’d bring a jacket. They were offering me $80,000 a year. Out of college. To play basketball. They even gave me a $10,000 signing bonus. I had a daughter on the way and I was ready for her to grow up Ukrainian. I wasn’t even sure what the language looked or sounded like, but I was ready to pledge my allegiance, man. If you have an overseas opportunity available to you, be excited about it. A lot of great players make in a league before they make it in the league.
The new Ukrainian basketball federation president Mikhail Brodskiy confirmed that Evgen Murzin is going to be the new coach of the national team for the upcoming Eurobasket and the big bet now is called Alex Len. The new president is trying to lure the center of the Phoenix Suns and make him the new star of the team in the post coach Fratello era.