NEW YORK — Los Angeles Clippers’ guard Eric Gordon has come a long way since taking his first steps towards his professional basketball career in Indiana. From being named Indiana Mr. Basketball, being a finalist for the Naismith and Wooden awards, to being drafted seventh overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2008 NBA Draft. Gordon has accomplished much at such a young age.
Now he can add the experience of being a part of Team USA to his resume.
Yesterday I was at the USA-France exhibition game in New York City’s Madison Square Garden and caught up with Gordon, who finished with eight points, to discuss the experience of Team USA, what he is learning about himself as a player, the Clippers, playing with Baron Davis and much more.
“It’s definitely a great experience and I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m learning that I’m competitive and that I am one of the better ones out there. This is a good experience and it’s great to be a part of,” said Gordon to Project Spurs.
And what’s not great about this team’s roster from the eyes of a young guard like Gordon?
Chauncey Billups and Rajon Rondo provide a veteran presence at the guard position and since Gordon has never played at the international level, the veteran guards are imparting their knowledge to Gordon and he has been all ears, “Just to keep working hard,” said Gordon, “Playing with good guys everyday and then playing against different countries with different styles is a good experience.”
Even though Gordon may be experiencing his first international basketball experience, he can step back a look at areas the team still needs to work on as the 2010 FIBA World Championship nears, “It can be either,” said Gordon when I asked him if team chemistry or defense is still a concern for Team USA. “Our chemistry on defense has been really good and we definitely have to work as a team because we’re picking up full court through out the whole game. As long as we stay together and really get after it we will be fine as a team.”
If there is one thing Gordon is enjoying about being a member of Team USA is the winning atmosphere but playing for the Clippers can be taxing for a competitive player. But with Blake Griffin finally joining the Clippers after an injury delayed his NBA debut, Gordon is optimistic about the Clippers’ chances next season and feels Griffin will make a big difference, “I’m looking forward to play with Blake. He was hurt this past year and I think he is going to make a big contribution for us winning next year. He will definitely help,” said Gordon to Project Spurs.
Though Gordon’s tone changed a bit when I asked him about playing with Baron Davis, “It’s good. We just need to get him motivated to really play. We all know he can play. As long as he stays motivated we know what he can do to help us.”
While Griffin will definitely help the Clippers get on the winning track, Gordon will also contribute to that winning track by bringing what he has been learning with Team USA to Los Angeles next season, “The winning experience and to work hard everyday,” said Gordon to Project Spurs.
Right now the USA’s roster stands at 13 which will need to be trimmed down to 12 players before the start of the games in Turkey. Some feel the next cut will be at the guard position and it could come down to Gordon or Stephen Curry.
Should Gordon get released there is no denying he is appreciative of the chance to represent the United States. He is just 21 and would have another opportunity in the future. He brings much needed perimeter defense and an outside shot which are both crucial for any team playing on the international level.