21 December 2011
Last Summer our National Team from Belgium -- which is named the Belgian Lions -- managed to qualify for the first time since 1993 for the European Championships for countries, better known as Eurobasket 2011, held in Lithuania.
I was more than proud to be part of this success because it gave basketball in Belgium a long needed boost. The last game of the qualifiers, a do or die against Poland in front of our own outrageous fans, is still very high on my list of most memorable games.
So hopes were up for the actual tournament last summer.
We went all the way to Dallas, Texas to prepare ourselves, stopped on our way back in Toronto, Canada for some friendly games vs. Team Canada and we had the feeling this was going to be our year.
Things eventually turned out completely different and quite dramatic.
Their original plan was to make a fly-on-the-wall documentary about our run towards European basketball fame, and for that purpose they followed us everywhere for about 4 weeks.
The movie, called 'A Locker Room Story' premiered last week in Belgium for a selected crowd of players, staff and media. I can truly say I relived all emotions of last summer again and I was told it had left no one untouched.
It will air on Belgian TV first december 26 and I really hope we will be able to bring it to all of you some time soon.
Now that I am talking about touching sports documentaries I think it's a good time to mention Chris Herren.
Chris was my teammate on the Bologna, Italy team back in 2001. Since we had signed for the team in the same week, we ended up being introduced at a joint press conference and spending quite some time together.
I immediately understood Chris -- who played for the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and was a great player at Boston College and Fresno State -- was different but would have never guessed he was facing all these drug problems that I heard of through international media in the years to follow.
Yes, he did show up late for practice sometimes and yes, he did look like he never got any sleep. And I do recall him never opening the door of the hotel room when I was knocking on his door trying to make sure he would make it on time to a team meeting.
But in the first place I remember Chris as a talented basketball player and a genuinely nice guy with a big heart. Chris got cut from the team after preseason.
ESPN has made a great documentary about Chris and his amazing story.
'Unguarded' (available below in a six clip series) tells us how he was able to turn his life around after years of struggle. His story is shocking but the way he overcame deserves respect. It left me speechless.
It's a movie that I would highly recommend to everyone. Now Chris is a wanted speaker all over the USA telling young people not to make his mistakes or waste their talents. You can also follow him on Twitter @c_herren .
I think he is worth it.
Tomas Van Den Spiegel is a professional basketball player who has played around Europe for the past 16 years. Currently a center with BC Oostende in his native Belgium, Van Den Spiegel has spent time with Fortitudo Bologna, Virtus Roma, CSKA Moscow, Prokom Sopot, Azovmash Mariupol, Real Madrid and Olimpia Milano. A proud father of two children - Ana and Theo - Van Den Spiegel's "Big Man In Belgium" column is featured regularly on Beyond the Beat. You can follow him on Twitter at @tomasvds
|< Prev||Next >|