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
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3: 'We're upset we didn't score more goals,' admits Steven Gerrard
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3: 'That was my worst day in football,' concedes Wayne Rooney
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Arsenal 1 match report: Tomas Rosicky rocket leaves Spurs in Arsenal’s slip-stream
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3 player ratings: Who scored highest - Steven Gerrard or Luis Suarez?
Mo Farah allays health fears after passing out in New York half-marathon defeat
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 3 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Did jetliner fly into area controlled by Taliban? Net widens after claims final satellite signal could have been sent from the ground
- 4 Nasa-funded study warns of ‘collapse of civilisation’ in coming decades
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Ukip and Nigel Farage on course for remarkable victory in European elections
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...