About five years ago, Mickaël Gelabale went down to a knee injury playing for the Seattle Supersonics. The following season, he played D-League ball. Just last month he was with Valencia BC, latest stop in 3½ seasons in Europe. Surely no one reckoned he’d be starting in the big league ever again, even when the injury-riddled Minnesota Timberwolves signed him to the first of two 10-day contracts.
No one, perhaps, except for Gelabale himself, who never gave up on the dream. As the Team France player told the Minneapolis Tribune after his signing with the Wolves in mid-January: “I [was] always thinking like that. When I was in France, I was thinking to come back. I was in Russia thinking about it. I was in Spain thinking about it.” (Actually, he omitted Croatia and Belgium there…)
Thought became reality last night for Gelabale against the San Antonio Spurs in a nicely international-flavored NBA matchup: Even with Andrei Kirilenko and Manu Ginobili not suiting up, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, Nando de Colo, Boris Diaw, Alexey Shved, Nikola Pekovic and of course Ricky represented the non-American rolls.
Gelabale may have turned in some ordinary statistics for the ‘Wolves (10 points, three rebounds, two personal fouls in 34 minutes), but the man has got to be happy with his position vis-à-vis sticking around for the season’s remainder with Minnesota.
Because of the Timberwolves’ injury situation, the team is able to take advantage of an NBA rule which allows their signing of 13 players to the active roster with four players simultaneously slated to miss at least two weeks due to injury. The catch is that the condition runs out after 20 days and forces the ‘Wolves to either release or sign Gelabale and/or Santa Cruz Warriors pickup Chris Johnson for the rest of 2012-13. That date is February 8.
BallinEurope doesn’t mean to suggest that Gelabale enjoyed some schadenfreude last night as his roster rival took a DNP (Coach’s Decision) against the Spurs – his second consecutive game missed and third in five games. It appears Johnson may not be in the Timberwolves’ short- to medium-term plans. Time will tell if Gelebale is, but another good sign hit the blogosphere this morning: Namely, interest being shown by none other than Les Blues de l’Ouest, a.k.a. those same Spurs, “even with a full roster at the moment.”
Said Gelebale in that January interview, “Now I’m here [back in the NBA], and I want to enjoy it.”
Now that he’s returned on the NBA radar, BiE certainly hopes he does. He’s earned it.