ORLANDO, Fla. -- Adam Morrison learned the difference between first-world problems and third-world problems over the past 10 months.
Morrison put up with high expectations as the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2006, a torn ACL and a lack of playing time in recent seasons. But those problems were nothing compared to what he saw while playing with the Serbian team KK Red Star Belgrade.
He signed with Belgrade last September, and the lifestyle was nothing like the cushy NBA lifestyle he was used to.
“Tiny little gyms, old basketballs, just one pair of shoes, do your own laundry ... it’s kind of like being back in college, but even worse,” Morrison said. “You’re spoiled when you’re in the NBA.”
Off the court, Morrison saw more poverty and worse living conditions than he’d ever seen before.
“Even if I wasn’t an NBA player, just being an American and seeing what other countries and what their definition of poor really is, taught me a lot,” said Morrison, who lasted only eight games in Serbia before getting out of his contract to pursue other professional opportunities. “I saw how some people live day to day, and it’s like, OK, my problems really aren’t that bad.”
Once out of his contract in Serbia, Morrison joined Turkish club Besiktas in January. He had a much better experience in Istanbul -- even saying he plans to vacation there in the future -- playing alongside fellow ex-NBAers Carlos Arroyo and Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
But now, he said he’s almost certainly done playing overseas.
Morrison is playing here for the Brooklyn Nets’ summer league team this week, trying to reignite a disappointing NBA career. He’s been traded once and released twice since being drafted by the Bobcats six years ago after leading the NCAA with 28.1 points per game at Gonzaga in 2005-06.
He scored 10 points on Monday against the Magic, and it will likely take more than that to earn a spot on the real Nets roster -- especially considering Morrison will be 28 when training camp opens this season.
“I don’t know. I’m just going to play hard here and see what happens,” Morrison said. “I have no idea what will happen.”
If no NBA team wants him, Morrison said he’ll probably go back to school to finish his sports management degree and pursue coaching. With his two young daughters living in Spokane, Wash., he doesn’t want to take them to Europe or be away for too long.
“If the money and the situation was great, maybe I’d do it,” Morrison said of playing overseas. “But it’s really hard for me to say yes right now.”
One thing’s for sure: he’s happy to be living in America again.