Back at it in South Korea

It’s been a while since my last blog entry, but with all credit to God, I am blessed to see another season in my young professional basketball career in a different country and a different team. Luckily enough, we held our training camp in Los Angeles, which is about a two hour drive from my home. From then we flew to Seoul, Korea for a few work days and now we are in Shenzhen, China for the 2012 ABA championships. Thus far, it has been a real blessing and experience to be drafted to the Seoul Samsung Thunders organizations. I can’t imagine I will play for too many teams in my career were there are quality people from the front office to the entire roster, but with this team, we have that. When you go overseas, it’s somewhat unusual to have top of the line facilities and training staff, but with this team, we have both, which is really fortunate considering the reputation the Korean Basketball League (KBL) has of working players to the max. According to the only other American on my team, Bryan Davis, who has been involved with few NBA teams, some NBA facilities don’t measure up to what we have.

In pro sports, business and money usually come before loyalty, but I get a different vibe from this team. Of course we haven’t started season yet, so the real adversity hasn’t hit, but as of now, the team is a real tight group and I think we are adapting well to each other’s style of play. Each team in this league drafted two Americans. Davis was picked in the first round and I went second. Due to the KBL rules only one can play at a time, but we are both centers on the team and I think our jobs are so much easier due to the fact that the domestic players on our team can shoot from anywhere on the floor.

To keep up with our team, follow us at http://www.thunders.co.kr/  or myself and Bryan Davis on Instagram @klawsonjr and @b_davis0.

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Concluding my Rookie Season in Israel

It’s been over seven months since I have seen my family or been in the United States, it’s the first time I have played a complete season without my parents being in attendance to a single game and it’s also the first time I have been paid to play the game I have been playing since I was six years old. I wouldn’t trade any of this for anything in the world, maybe except for another year at Creighton.

The regular season has concluded and playoffs are approaching, but I had to take time to reflect on my rookie season. It’s been a really up and down and inconsistent season for me, but at the end of the day, what’s most important is that I learned, improved and put myself in a position for a job next season. I am thankful and blessed for all of the guys who I have had the opportunity to compete with, whom also have been away from their families for extended time periods. These guys include: Demond (Tweety) Carter, LaceDarius Dunn, Isaac Rosefelt, Delroy James, Jason Williams, Trevor Booker, JJ Hickson, Ekpe Udoh and Demetrius Alexander. I have been blessed with the opportunity to compete with great competition and live in Israel.

At one point during the season, I considered making my new year’s resolution to not be released from a contract for a whole season after it had already happened once during my first pro gig in China, while averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds. My ups were high and lows were really low to the point where our management thought it would be in the best interest of the team to sign players in my place, but through the NBA lockout and other signings, I performed well enough to finally sign a relatively long term contract to finish my season with Bnei Hasharon. While playing basketball overseas, you learn that it’s a small world in the basketball business and you become friends with guys you never would have imagined. For example, I, a former Creighton player becoming friends with guys like Ramon Clemente and Gabe Blair who played for Wichita State, or maybe missing an opportunity to play against my former teammate, Dane Watts due to the fact that I signed with my team a week before they played against his German team, Ratiopharm. My first game in Israel, I play against four former NBA players and perform well, but two months later, I’m having conversations with my agent about where I would play next, which ultimately was a learning experience, perform or go home. My pro experience is going well and it’s truly a blessing, but it’s not college.

My advice for those who are playing at the collegiate level is to enjoy it, cherish it, and never take a moment of it for granted. It’s great to be playing professionally and I’m sure the NBA is an even better experience, but none compare to college. Back in 2006, I was unhappy about the fact that I redshirted, but looking back six years later, five years at Creighton University still wasn’t enough. It’s March 31, 2012, I haven’t been in the United Stated since October, and I’ve never been so excited to go back to Omaha, Nebraska and Oceanside, California to see my biological family and Creighton basketball family.

IJNIP…It’s a Movement

Any player can tell you that playing the game of basketball, isn’t about the money, fame, or publicity. A lot of guys will tell you that they play basketball for the love of the game. Regardless of what it is, people play the game for various reasons.

With all credit to my former college teammate and current Minnesota Timberwolves Forward, Anthony Tolliver, I have taken my focus of “playing for an audience of one” to a different level. Prior to signing to play in the Holy land, I took a trip to Australia this summer not to play for money, or a free vacation, but for God. Meanwhile, Tolliver introduced me to his new clothing line “My Active Faith”, but more importantly, the slogan which is “In Jesus Name I Play” (IJNIP).  You hear coaches all the time say, “play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back”, but the idea of IJNIP is obviously not about playing for your team, but more importantly, Jesus. This idea is one that I used to really focus my athletic ability.

Everyone who is blessed with life is blessed with a gift, whether it’s basketball or not. How that gift is utilized or what is done with that gift is dependent upon the beholder. A lot of athletes, specifically basketball players have been sporting wrist bands that read, “Active Faith” and “In Jesus Name I Play”, but it’s more than just a fashion statement, it’s a conviction and a relationship with Christ, which ultimately is more important than anything else. Myself, and other basketball players believe that we would have never earned the success we have had from playing a game without God. Some current NBA players that sport the Active Faith bands are, Anthony Tolliver, Tristan Thompson, Jeremy Lin, Quentin Richardson, Randy Foye, and more. I personally have got a few teammates on board with IJNIP all the way in Israel. The purpose of this is not to brag or throw my faith at someone or offend anyone, but to help spread the word of God and getting athletes active in their faith and a better idea of what to play the game they love for. If only one person reads this and takes it to heart, it’s one more person that can be saved. No matter what Gods plan is for you, it’s important to be active in your faith and do what you do with humility and purpose. IJNIP

2011, a Year to Remember!!

As we approach, 2012, I can reflect on the past year and really appreciate the memories and experiences  I’ve been blessed with. It’s easily been the one of the most, if not, the most exciting year of my life. I would say graduating and earning my degree in journalism from Creighton University was the most memorable, but since then, I’ve been blessed with opportunities that don’t come around very often. The quick transition from collegiate basketball to professional is a depiction of how busy this year was for me. Any time you finish school, you’re always presented with the challenge of deciding what you’re going to do with your life as you enter the real world. They say college is one of the best times of your life, but I never really realized it until I left Omaha, Ne this past spring. It’s good for the first time in my life to be able to work and make money and to support myself in ways I never could have before, but it’s no replacement for seeing family on monthly terms, going out with teammates/friends and not having the stresses that a job might cause.

Of course 2011 was the conclusion of my valuable and memorable times in Omaha, but it was also the beginning of what I hope to be a long and successful pro basketball career. Even in the early stages of my rookie season, I think I’ve had a lot of experiences that just don’t occur as often in college basketball. I’ve had some success and failures, but most importantly I was able to learn life lessons on and off the court. After playing for three months in China, I finished averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds, earning all-league honors, but was released just before playoffs. My next step was a one week trip to Australia with Anthony Tolliver to play two exhibition games to better prepare myself for what was to come. Most importantly, I landed a job in Israel with Bnei Hasharon in a league full of NBA talent. I’ve had some good games and bad games during my original two month contract, but did enough to earn a one month extension. With the expiration date of my contract approaching, I’m excited about the possibilities and opportunities that may open up if my contract isn’t extended a second time. For example, a chance to see my family for the first time since August, see a ranked Creighton team play, and more importantly, to see my younger brother play a collegiate game for the first time.

A lot of this year has revolved around basketball similar to almost every other  year of my life, but it’s always exciting when your moving up a step in a specific field, whether it be a sport or not. I was excited about completed my collegiate career, hiring an agent and being paid to play the game I love, but none of those things are nearly as memorable as finishing up my time at Creighton. There are so many people who transfer in an out of schools, especially student athletes, but 2011, to me is memorable because it’s the year I complete my five year journey at Creighton on the court and in the classroom. I never would have thought I would have had the opportunity to come to a place like Creighton and leave with the success I did. I finished my basketball career as a top 20 scorer in school history, top 10 in rebounding, top 5 in blocked shots and number one overall in games played in a Creighton uniform, but most importantly I graduated. I’ve had successes and failures over the past 5 years and more specifically in 2011, but years down the road when I look back, I won’t remember scoring 30 points and 18 rebounds against St. Joes, nor will I remember going from preseason player of the year to coming off the bench, but I will remember graduating from Creighton University as a successful student-athlete and all the coaches and teammates who have supported me and have had the same success in their lives. 2011 was a great year and I’m thankful and blessed to be able to see 2012. God is Good.

NCAAB

Similar to high school, I move on to division 1, and just like that, high school basketball becomes irrelevant to me. I guess I can make the same claim now about college, but then again, it meant a little more to me than high school did.

As the 2011-2012 seaosn of college basketball starts, although I don’t have much interest, there are a few teams and players that I will be following all season. My younger brother, Quincy Lawson, a 6’6 small forward for Loyola Marymout, my alma mater, Creighton University and my former coaches, who are in the process of rebuilding the Oregon basketball program. In my opinion, each of these are on the verge of a breakout year.

My brother Quincy enters his third season at LMU after taking a medical redshirt his first year due to a major hip surgery, then seeing minimal minutes his freshmen season. Similar to many players, he struggles on and off the court entering college, but as he settles in his third season, I’m expecting a huge season from him. He started the teams first exhibition game and has all the tools to be a good player. Unlike myself, he is a unbelievably athletic with the ability to play three different positions. His team isn’t looking for him to be a star or a scorer, but this is the season he could make a name for himself in college basketball.

After failing to meet expectations year after year, people believe Creighton will be back in the tournament this year. The team is looking good so far after an impressive win in their lone exhibition game. There isn’t much to say about my alma mater, but anything less than an MVC championship or NCAA tournament experience would be a failure. Crazy part is, even after Antoine Young starts his pro career next season, the team won’t be losing much. Perhaps the George Mason or Butler for the next couple years??? I would bet on it.

Lastly, the guys that recruited me six years ago to Creighton, start their second season at Oregon. The program won the College Basketball Invitational over my Creighton squad during my senior year last season, but Dana Altman, Brian Fish and Kevin McKenna and the rest of the staff look to build on the CBI title from last season. Not only is Oregon the Nike Capital of the world, but they also moved into Matthew Knight Arena last season. Things are looking good for the program as they brought in a really good recruiting class. Best of luck to the program over there in Eugene, Oregon.

What actually happens in NCAAB this season really won’t have much of an affect on me, but it’s always good to have bragging rights because of what happens in college basketball. It’s fun to remind my current teammate, Delroy James about how we beat his Rhode Island team on a game winner in the 2008 NIT. I’m looking for LMU, Creighton and Oregon give me more reasons to trash talk.

No Disrespect, but it’s how I feel…

Sitting here listening to Ambition by Wale and Rick Ross, going into deep thought about the past year of my life. All the negativity associated with my name based on what I did or didn’t do on the court. Thinking about all the people that used my name or the names of my teammates in a bad way. Like Wale says in his song, “Ambition”, “they gon’ love me for my ambition, easy to dream a dream, but much harder to live it.” If you have something negative to say about me, my former teammates, or current teammates, there’s a good chance your credibility is no match for your words in regards to the topic in which you chose to criticize. Whether you’re just an unloyal fan or envious for any reason, my teammates and friends, whether it be the present or that past, must have done something right to be the center of negative attention. Playing a sport at the level we have for the past five years takes more than what the average person thinks.  After a terrible game last night, I did an interview and the questions were all negative. For those who sit around and wait for people to fail are usually those who are further from success than those that they direct their attention towards. I wrote this to simply express frustration to negativity towards teammates, coaches and more importantly, friends of mine. As for me personally, I may fail, but I will never give up. Regardless of who it is, your hopes for someone to fail are irrelevant because God has a plan for everyone in life and no individual can alter Gods plan. We live in a world where we want to put others down and have the misunderstanding that you will be ahead of that person, when in all actuality, succes comes to those who are unified and unselfish similar to a five-man, star-studded roster all willing to be role players.  

Always positive, never quitting and ambitious…

Hoopin’ in the Holy Land

Leaving Creighton University, I never would have imagined myself in Israel for any reason. It’s common for any American to think that it would be a dangerous country because of the surrounding countries, but after my second week of living here, I’ve learned that it’s far from that. My team, Bnei HaSharon has played two games, I’m settled into my apartment and learning my way around the area. My teammates “got game” and they are good guys off the court also. I’m one of seven foreign players which include Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn, Delroy James, Trevor Booker, Jared Mintz and JJ Hickson. Aside from practicing or playing games everyday, I also had a few chances to experience the night life. It’s been a real good time, especially being around the Americans on the other teams including Craig Brackins and Todd Lowenthal, who are guys I have been friends with and played against since high school.

After losing to Jerusalem in overtime, we bounced back today with a two-point win over Maccabi Haifa at our home court. The team has played well as of late and we have been improving everyday. I have played fairly well each game, but there’s always room for improvement. Playing in this league is a real good experience and will certainly help my career going forward. It’s  the top league in Israel and one of the better leagues in the world filled with former and present NBA players who are affected by the NBA lockout.

Originally, I had signed for two months as a replacement for Trevor Booker, who suffered a leg injury, but through the first two games, I think an extension is a good possiblity. The team has the option to extend my contract through the whole season and also for the next season, with a 50 thousand buyout option from a Euro team or a free NBA opt out, but my only focus is doing what I can to help my team to have a good season and hopefully resign for the following season.

http://www.eurobasket.com/team.asp?Cntry=Israel&Team=607&Page=1

Take a look at our roster and tell me we don’t have a squad and we got a good Israeli player injured and a good American player injured also.