Four years ago, when the UNLV basketball team made an improbable return to the Sweet 16, I remember writing that Georgia Tech and Wisconsin, the teams the Rebels beat to get there, had guys that likely would play in the NBA. And that UNLV had guys that, if lucky, would play in Turkey.
It was supposed to be a metaphor. Nobody really thought Joel Anthony was going to make it with the Miami Heat.
Jovan "Wink" Adams, the star of that year's overachieving UNLV team, did play in Turkey. For 18 games, anyway. The rifle-toting soldiers in the streets made him nervous.
Nobody told him that chasing the NBA dream would include rifle-toting Turks.
He chased the NBA dream in Turkey and in Belgium, in Tulsa and in Sioux Falls with the NBA Development League. He might play one more season overseas, in Switzerland or in the Netherlands. He's heard a lot of nice things about Switzerland, where one who plays pro basketball can set up a Swiss bank account, because it is relatively certain that one will be paid. One wasn't always paid in Turkey.
But Wink Adams says he is through chasing the NBA dream. Now it's only about making as much money as he can playing basketball before getting on with the rest of his life.
This explains why he is programming key codes of Sequoia SUVs and all-wheel drive, third-generation Sienna minivans at Findlay Toyota. It's not about staying in shape to play basketball, it's more about getting on with the rest of his life.
Adams has a secondary dream of becoming a coach. He considered helping out with the Centennial High basketball team, close to where he and his wife, Chante, bought a home. Perhaps he can become the assistant at the end of an NCAA bench and go from there. Guys as good as he was in college often get that chance.
If not, he can see himself selling Sequoias and Siennas for fellow former Rebels player Cliff Findlay. And driving one. Those Siennas are pretty tricked-out, Wink says. Way more tricked-out than the 2005 Chevy Impala he's been driving since college.
"My future is not in the NBA," Wink says, and it is a little sad to hear him say that, to hear him admit the NBA dream is done. But at least he has a backup plan, and a college diploma. And when he says he's through chasing the NBA dream, he says it with the same toothy grin he flashed during the four years and 133 games he was the Rebels' heart and soul, averaging 14.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 11,676 nightly nods from fans who admired the effort.
The points, rebounds, assists and steals were a large reason Adams was ranked the 18th-greatest basketball Rebel of all time by a Review-Journal panel last summer. The 11,676 appreciative nods might have been a larger reason.
After obtaining his degree in physical education with a minor in sociology, Adams signed a free-agent deal with the Knicks. New York had only one draft pick in 2009 and used it on Jordan Hill, a power forward. Wink thought he might get a decent chance to make the roster as a backup guard.
Then the Knicks made a trade with the Lakers to acquire shooting guard Toney Douglas of Florida State, the 29th player picked in the 2009 draft. And there went Wink's chance to make the Knicks.
He averaged 11.4 points for Oyak Renault in Bursa, Turkey. Bursa, an industrialized city of nearly 2 million rising from the shadow of Mount Uludag, sounded pretty nice. So did the thermal baths and the Ottoman mausoleums. Give a guy something to do on his off day.
Adams said all he did on his off days was practice. And the women were all covered up. And there were rifle-toting Turks in the streets, and the unrealistic expectations thrust upon American imports.
"They expect every American to play like LeBron and Kobe," he said. "They expect you to score."
When you don't score, or only score 11.4 points per game, it's back home. You catch on with the 66ers or the Skyforce of the D-League, to keep the NBA dream flickering. But whereas a guy makes a monthly wage of only $2,000 in the D-League, he can make $5,000 or $6,000 playing overseas. So you go back there, to Belgium, where there are six Americans on most teams, and they speak English and rifle-toting soldiers do not patrol the streets. And then it's back to the D-League. And so forth.
Until one day you are 26 or 27, and the NBA dream ends, and one must decide between playing basketball for Swiss francs or Dutch Euros, or moving Sequoias and Siennas around the new-car showroom. And it's not an easy choice.
Wink Adams is 26.
The scouting reports say he stands 183 centimeters, weighs 90 kilograms, has a USA passport and that his contract status is available.
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.