Bobby Dixon took a longer road than most to Berlin, he knows what this means according to Emmet Ryan
The last 12 months of Bobby Dixon’s life have been a long time coming. Before Pinar Karsiyaka’s front office realised what most of Europe should have long before, his career wasn’t anywhere close to the path it took. The club in the Izmir suburb went big, by its standards, to attract Dixon and he brought home a Turkish Cup in his first season there. A year later he made Kaf Kaf Kaf Sin Sin Sin Kaf Sin Kaf Sin Kaf Sin Kaf a chant familiar across the continent. In that wild Turkish playoff series he became President Bobby Dixon. The man whose fearlessness wasn’t a case of a point guard who was too trigger happy, he was just a baller who got things done.
Save for a couple of seasons in Italy, Dixon had been out of the limelight for most of his career playing Pro A in France. It’s not that the ball was bad, it’s that Pro A just isn’t where the big guys go and Dixon was a talented player who was not in a position to make the breakout so many others had. It’s easy to say a player should go here and there but when you’ve got to pay bills and think about others around you, security means a lot. Karsiyaka certainly wasn’t a destination club when he took the deal but the money was honest and it was worth the punt. Turkey would, at worst, pay the man as he entered his 30s but Dixon wanted a whole lot more than to be paid. Dixon realised that the league wasn’t just one of the best in Europe. It is aspirational. It wants to be so much more and that’s where a man with his talents could do something special.
This site, like so many others, covered the cardiac kids of Karsiyaka last summer but Dixon isn’t all that young. He’s a 33 year old under sized point guard. Time was his biggest enemy and when the clock demanded Dixon deliver, he did so with pure confidence.
The Turkish title came, then came the big deal with Fenerbahce and his subsequent performance at EuroBasket. It’s easy for an American to jump at the offer of a European passport and the security it offers without caring about the playing duties, Dixon bought in entirely. For a man who had just gone through a draining playoff run, to jump at the chance at being part of Ergin Ataman’s radical reorginisation of the Turkish national team’s style showed character. The President of Swag was delivering despite the gruelling pace his tired limbs had to work through and he did so without complaint. The grind, while not easy, made sense to him. Dixon has always been forced to work. Learning how to dial it back was the real challenge.
For Dixon at Fener, the issue wasn’t whether he was good enough it was about learning that those around him were also good enough. Dixon has always needed to be the man for his team. His experience with Turkey in Berlin and Lille, where Cedi Osman was the breakout star of the team, gave a hint of what he needed to learn. For a baller with a decade of the pro game and countless years before that of being the body everyone relied one, deferring was a legitimate challenge.
It has not been easy. The regular season was a mix of Mr President and who is this guy but he found the blend. It was a different grind for the veteran. His body still has hops. He may not be the ideal age for a ball carrier but he looks to his side and straight ahead and the fact that he is still a speed freak is secondary. Bobby Dixon learned a new kind of trust.
Dixon always knew the roles of those around him in his previous gigs and all of those fed off him. There were some really talented players but Bobby set the tone. In Istanbul, in comfortably the biggest gig of his career, he had to get used to not always being that option. It wasn’t just about adjusting to how the talent was an upgrade, it was about learning how to use that to get around the challenge staring down his face.
Confidence is the most basic asset required to even lace up in pro sports. Dixon had been dishing it out for a decade and here he was learning to draw it in. If the adjustment wasn’t rough it would cause fears he was almost too staid. We didn’t get that. Over the past season the not so old dog really has learned new tricks and now, in Berlin, it might make him more dangerous than ever.
Dixon still has that pull up three, that outlet pass out of nowhere, and those drives that look like they can’t work but do. Now he has become comfortable with the other parts of the game, of being the dude that is fed just because it makes sense because it is necessary. He’s able to make the less sexy part of basketball into viable threats. Facing down Bobby Dixon when he was the biggest threat wasn’t fun but, for the best, they could live with it. Now, they have the same task but he has an army around him.
Fener don’t come to Berlin with the best starting back court but they do come with a really good one. On previous teams Dixon played for, that could have been an issue. Now it’s a source of torment for Baskonia and whatever may lie beyond. Dixon didn’t enjoy such riches in the past but now he has turned these assets into weapons. He is the upgrade Fener really needed at the position. Fearless creators are easy to find, getting them to know that they don’t need to be makes the Istanbul club all the more dangerous.
Bobby Dixon and his headband are in Istanbul and Mr President loves his cabinet. That’s going to make Fener a brutal out this weekend.