Episode #28 of the heinnews/BallinEurope co-produced podcast series is now available online. This week, we’re proud to have as a guest Larry Gordon, currently starring for upstarts Phoenix Hagen of the German Basketball Bundesliga. A product of NCAA Division II college Cal Poly Pomona, Gordon not only brings his electrifying spark plug of a game to Hagen but also makes for a nice symbol of his team’s recent fortunes.
After something of a troubled early upbringing, Gordon only took up basketball at about age 12 but his natural gifts (among them incredible leaping ability) got him a starting spot on the (Calif.) Montclair High School varsity team, with whom he’d average 24.6 points and 13.2 rebounds per game.
He then went on to play at Cal Poly after receiving offers from a handful of Division II schools; though his alma mater could be considered the go-to choice for a local boy, Gordon put a little more thought into his decision with an eye on the future: “I didn’t want to rebuild,” he explained, “I wanted to be in a team that was already good and bring what I have to make them even better.”
Ultimately, Gordon would help carry the Broncos to their first-ever Division II national championship game, a match lost to the University of Findlay on a wild last-second three-pointer by one Tyler Evans. “I don’t even think [Evans] is still playing,” Gordon laments on the ‘cast.
Gordon then showed a pragmatic attitude and a good eye for solid clubs over the next three seasons. By the time he’d graduated uni, Larry had reported garnered offers from Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. He chose the last, getting with Landstede and averaging a 10/8. For the Ece Kapfenburg Bulls of the Austrian Bundesliga (an association Gordon calls “a gateway league”), he upped his personal numbers to 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
For 2012-13, Larry moved up another rung on the career ladder into Germany; while the unbelievable success of Phoenix Hagen cannot be credited solely to the former Bronco coming aboard – swingman Adam Hess has proven quite the nice acquisition as well – there’s no denying that adding a nightly double-double threat has buoyed the team’s success. And how wide-ranging are Gordon’s skills? Put it this way: How many players get invited to both their league’s three-point shooting contest and dunk contest? (Keep in mind, too, that the man’s height is listed at 6’5”/1.96m!)
European basketball fans may recall Hagen as the subject of the 2012 documentary Phoenix in der Asche, a film documenting the team’s first season in (and attempting to avoid relegation from) Germany’s top division. In 2011-12, it was another fight to avoid the bottom for the club.
And this season? Forget relegation: Going into Saturday’s game versus New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig, Phoenix Hagen is ranked eighth – good enough for a playoff spot if they can hold on. And Gordon is certain to be in the center of it all…
The entire podcast, along with the usual Euroleague basketball talk between Mr. Hein and yours truly and a review of the excellent 1975 science-fiction/sports film Rollerball, may be listened to here. Alternatively, Taking the Charge podcasts are also available through iTunes; subscribe by entering http://heinnews.com/feed/podcast into the aggregator.