Jerome Jordan was the last Net to finish practice Tuesday afternoon. Jordan was in the weight room, trying to take advantage of every possible second at the Nets practice facility. Jordan, although not a rookie, is trying to get acclimated to the game. That's not so far fetched as it seems.
The Jamaican native didn't start playing basketball until16; Basketball was fairly new to the Caribbean country. "It was up and coming when I was growing up," Jordan told NetsDaily. "My older cousins used to watch a lot so I always used to watch it and as I got older I used to find places where they played because I've always liked the sport." It didn't hurt that he was growing!
For many players from foreign nations, basketball gets forced on them because of their height. Even though Jordan was always one of the biggest players growing up, he wasn't forced to play the game, rather directed towards it. "I was always bigger so there was always that advantage and people kind of pushed me towards it," Jordan said. "But I liked it before so it wasn't like I was forced to do something I didn't want to do"
Jordan possessed unique size as a teen, and for college coaches, that's all they needed to see. Jordan told NetsDaily that he spent half of a semester in Albany at a prep school before returning to Jamaica. For his senior year of high school, Jordan went to another prep school in Florida where transfer restrictions didn't allow him to play. However, after working out with the team, Jordan caught the eye of Doug Wojcik, the head coach at Tulsa. After seeing the big man work out a few times, he became a Golden Hurricane. When asked if he gotten a bid to a Division 1 team without any real organized basketball experience Jordan responded, "pretty much."
Despite a lack of experience, Jordan burst onto the scene at Tulsa. He made an instant impact on the floor, blocking shots at will; He averaged nearly three blocks per game his final three years at school and learned to finish around the rim. However, NBA teams weren't that impressed with the newcomer to the game. Jordan was selected No. 44 in the 2012 draft. DraftExpress said his best case comparison was Theo Ratliff, not much of an endorsement. (His teammate at Tulsa, Ben Uzoh, went undrafted but wound up with the Nets.)
Jordan never got settled into the NBA, playing only 21 games with the Knicks. His time with the Knicks was short, but, as he always has, Jordan continued to learn. "I learned a lot from Tyson [Chandler] from when I was with the Knicks at first," he said. "I tried to learn from him a little bit because we had similar body types and styles."
He got another chance the next year with the Grizzlies, but after a decent training camp, he was the last player cut. The Memphis coach, Lionel Hollins, liked him.
Even though he was out of the league for more than two years, Jordan never lost faith in his dream. "No," Jordan said when asked if he possibly wasn't cut out for the NBA. "I figured I started playing later, so I have a lot of room to grow and keep learning so I never gave up on that and thats a testament to why I'm here right now."
"I knew I had to keep working and watching and learn. Learn from different guys whether guys i played in the NBA, met up with them overseas or whatever it is just try to stick around and just learn as much as I can."
After spending last season overseas and in the D-League, Jordan told his agent he wanted to be back in the NBA, and that he was willing to wait it out. He knew his hard work would pay off. "Last year, I left pretty early in the offseason to go to Europe and this year I didn't want to do that," Jordan said. "I wanted to at least give training camp a try. So I told my agent unless it was some crazy offer from Europe to wait a little bit and see what happens in training camp."
Jordan added that he didn't just want to be an extra man at training camp. He wanted a shot at making the roster. "I told my agent to make sure I went somewhere that I had a chance to really fight for a spot not just be a body in training camp," The Jamaican big man said.
Brooklyn proved to be the place for him. In an offense that features two big men at the high post, and a team in dire need of some rim protection off the bench, Jordan proved to be the final piece of the Nets roster. When Brook Lopez went down with a sprained foot in China against the Kings, it was Jordan who reaped the benefits. Jordan said that he "hoped" to be a figure in the rotation, but he couldn't be so sure considering he was a late signing. "I mean it was hard to tell but just kept working and coach believed in me enough to give me a chance early on so I just tried to make the most of it," Jordan told NetsDaily.
The season has now begun, and Jordan is very much part of this team. Once a player that the causal Nets fan did not know, he's now the man who comes in relief for Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett. Jordan may be 28, but in basketball years, he is more like another rookie trying to find a place to refine his game. Brooklyn has proven to become a safe haven for hybrid rookies, like the team's other internationals, to come and expand on their talents. Jordan is just the latest in a growing group to do so.