Basketball: Brit Joel Freeland leaps from Sainsbury's to the NBA
Wednesday 31 October 2012
Britain's latest basketball star should make his NBA debut for Portland Trailblazers against the world-famous LA Lakers tonight. Joel Freeland has come a long way from the quiet town of Farnham in Surrey, where he grew up and worked in Sainsbury's as a teenager.
"I just worked in a supermarket as anyone does as a kid," Freeland said yesterday. "My dad used to take my everywhere. I was living in Farnham but would travel two or three times a week to Southampton, he was taking me there, taking time out of his schedule."
"I was 16 when I left. It was part of my life that I cherish. But to play here is amazing, it is something that I've been fighting for my whole career. I was fortunate enough to be drafted in 2006, now I'm going to take full advantage."
Freeland, like most English teenagers, grew up playing football. But after a bad injury, he did not want to risk another, so changed to basketball. "I used to play football growing up like everyone does in England," he said. "But I had an injury on my left leg, I broke it, it was quite a bad injury and a bad time in my life. I spent two weeks in hospital.
"I was 14, those kids were growing a lot. I was watching football, kids were flying into tackles, I didn't want to go through that again. I decided to change sport, being as tall as I was, basketball was an obvious choice. I fell in love with it from the get-go."
Freeland has been playing in Spain for the last six years and is now delighted to be playing in the US. "It wouldn't really matter who we opened up against," he said ahead of the season opener. "To play against the Lakers is incredible. To play against Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, just to be on the same court as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. It is something I have been dreaming of for a long time."
Watch Joel Freeland's NBA debut via NBA League Pass. Visit www.nba.com/leaguepass
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo applauded by Liverpool fans after master-class for Real Madrid, despite Manchester United ties
Angel Di Maria injury latest: Argentina international set to play in Manchester United vs Chelsea match
Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo says he is playing Barca - not just Lionel Messi - in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Erik Lamela goal: Best tweets and reaction to Tottenham man's Rabona
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...