When you grow to reach 2.17 meters (7’1”) at age 17, the question – especially in Lithuania – surely becomes rote: “Hey, do you play basketball?” As BasketNews.lt tells his story, however, it’s clear nothing has ever come that simply for big guy Ovidijus Galdikas.
Despite being blessed with string-bean genetics (i.e. a father of 2.05m, a paternal grandmother of 1.86m) and a hoops-obsessed country, Galdikas was mostly just another gangly kid having trouble adjusting with growth spurts before meeting Žalgiris Kaunas physical trainer Alexander “The Professor” Kosauskui.
By 2006, Galdikas was playing with the Žalgiris reserves squad but despite comparisons to Dwight Howard, Galdikas’ career was derailed by another foe: Economic necessity. Describing his financial circumstances while in the Žalgiris as basically playing for “a free meal,” Galdikas had to drop the game and look for steady paying work.
After two years of blue-collar gigs, Galdikas was surprised with a visit by player agent Šarūnas Broga, who literally showed up at the workshop where Galdikas was employed to offer him a contract. Said Galdikas, “Upon receiving such a proposal, I did not hesitate. I have always liked basketball, but the conditions hadn’t allowed for it.” The seriously big guy was soon mentally ready to go, despite having “to start from scratch. It cost a lot of sweat” to get into game shape again.
Galdikas and fellow Broga client Klemensas Patiejūnas played in France’s second division for a while, though Galdikas returned to Lithuania after an early four-month stint for more training; he played with Vilnius Vanagai in Lithuania’s third division through 2008-09’s close.
Despite some bumps, Broga promises that Galdikas “has worked very conscientiously and carefully. Motivation will never be a problem. Working with such a player is a pleasure.”
Broga is concerned that Galdikas will not be given a serious shot in the LKL, Lithuania’s top league, after his past (lack of) experience and with his client’s career artificially so far along, Broga wants to aim high and well beyond the LKL. “This is an extraordinary player,” contends Broga, and “benchwarming will do him no good.”
As for Galdikas himself, well, BiE supposes he missed the game after his prolonged vocational vacation. “It does not make any difference to me [where I go]. … Most importantly, I want to play basketball.”
Here’s to hoping Ovidijus (finally) gets his chance.