For many fans, hearing that an old college basketball player from your school is "playing overseas" translates directly to "wasn't good enough for the NBA." Former Syracuse Orange guard Andy Rautins might have been thinking the same when he was given the opportunity.
"Honestly, I fought it at first," Rautins told Syracuse.com's Donna Ditota. "But it's completely changed me as a person."
A standout in Syracuse, Rautins was drafted 38th overall by the New York Knicks in the 2010 NBA Draft. After playing high school ball at James-Dewitt and college ball in the Carrier Dome, he might not ever have to leave the state of New York again. But after just five games with the Knicks, Rautins was traded to Dallas, and then waived by the Mavericks five days later. A week after that, he signed with Spain's CB Lucentum Alicante. He's played with three other international teams since.
Rautins has used basketball as an opportunity to make his way around the world. It's not a bad gig; getting paid to do young what most people spend their lives hoping they can pay to do when they grow old. Rautins is even able to play the game he loves along the way, and he's learned to appreciate the chances he's been given.
"I think it's the flow that my life was heading toward in terms of opening me to different cultures and ridding some of my anxieties about being homesick. You expand as a person. You grow. You make forever friendships with teammates. So it's really an invaluable experience. I'm happy to have gone through it."
Rautins played one year in Spain. After a year with the D-League's Tulsa 66ers, he spent the 2013-14 season in Frankfurt, Germany. He then played a season in Italy before spending this year in Turkey. He rock-climbed, got engaged, and even faced a scary situation involving ISIS in Turkey earlier this year. But as his father Leo put it, "I don't know if there's any safe place."
30-year-old Rautins plans to "play overseas" until he can't play anymore, which would end his NBA career at five games played. But if you asked him, he wouldn't want it any other way.