In an interview with Italy’s leading newspaper, La Repubblica, Christian Drejer talks about how he left Florida more because he never recovered from a life-threatening injury nor adjusting to the Gators’ style, about how his subsequent decision to play professionally in Barcelona was "horrible", about how he is now happy to be with a group of "hungry" teammates in Bologna and finally about how his goal is still to play in the NBA, but not for another two years.
The 1,100-word profile, published Sunday, is headlined, "Io, finalmente nel posto giusto smentirò chi dice che ho sbagliato tutto", or roughly, "I have finally found just the place to refute those who say I have screwed up everything".
The writer describes the 22-year-old’s basketball career as filled with " caresses and disappointments, hopes and plans then aborted", but one which now seems settled in Bologna, where the 6'-9" swingman's "elegant" game has been a big surprise for Bologna fans, particularly his hot shooting from beyond the arc.
The article reveals that he left Florida in 2004 not only because he did not like the "run and pull up" style of the Gators but because fans didn’t understand that he hadn’t fully recovered from the infection that led to multiple operations the year before.
"And I do not regret it: it was not a mistake to go to Florida, and I do not have the presumption to think that, without that accident, it would have gone differently," says Drejer, who admits "the average American fan was scandalized" by his decision to leave his team in mid-season.
It was not really that much about the money, says Drejer, who nevertheless did receive $1 million from Barcelona--$200,000 for the end of 2004 and $800,000 for last season. (He also had a $1 million option for this season, but both sides decided it would be better if they split up.)
The article says that his contract with Virtus Bologna is for three years, at a lot less money—a starting salary of 450,000 Euros or roughly 550,000 US Dollars this season. Drejer can leave after the second year for the NBA, according to the article, noting that he was drafted by the Nets last year. (However, his player page on the official Legabasket site states he is under contract through June 30, 2006.)
"My dream is always that one, it’s clear," Drejer says of the NBA, where he would be the first Danish player. "But my challenge is being a key player for Virtus."
[Special thanks to Stefan Nellemoes of nbainfo.dk for finding this and passing it along and Google and Babelfish language tools for machine translations.]