Walker Russell Jr. never gave up no matter how many times the NBA took a look – short looks, long looks, sideways glances – and chose someone else.
Russell, 29, just kept grinding and playing.
His undeterred positive attitude and perseverance paid off Thursday. As soon as he exited the plane in Sioux Falls, S.D., ready to continue the journey with the Mad Ants this weekend, he found out the Detroit Pistons wanted him.
So he began the quickest trip to Sioux Falls and back in history. Also, it had to be the most rewarding.
“I’m still in shock right now, but it’s starting to set in,” Russell said Thursday night.
With the Pistons heavy on the perimeter, Russell faces long odds to stick with the team once Will Bynum is fully healthy. But when the Pistons were bad in the 1990s, one of my favorite parts of watching those miserable teams was when they’d bring in unknown guys trying to stick in the league. There was a parade of names on that list — for some reason, I always liked Ivano Newbill — and many of them didn’t make it very long with the team. But the Pistons also found a couple of hidden gems — Michael Curry and Mikki Moore both started out as longshots and ended up carving out nice NBA careers for themselves. Hopefully for Russell, he’s able to turn this experience into a steady NBA job.
Russell is certainly grateful for the opportunity. He tweeted this yesterday:
I can finally say…”mamma we made it”….thank you Detriot for the opportunity