The Summer League is always a key event for young players. Newcomers can thus discover a piece of the world of the NBA and hone their skills there before the serious things, the regular season.
It is also a sometimes important moment for the coaches. Franchises regularly send assistants to cut their teeth for a few days in Las Vegas, to drink and gain experience. Jordan Brink (30) and Detroit can attest to that.
The latter will lead the Pistons in two days for this summer league and it’s a hell of a turn in his career, which could very well have stopped two years ago.
Always the nose in the videos
A little background: Brink arrived in the Michigan franchise in 2014, first via a simple internship. He helps leaders prepare for the 2015 Draft, by participating in workouts. The summer of 2015 is coming to an end and Stan Van Gundy, the coach at the time, offers him a job. Like Michigan State in the NCAA, where he could assist Tom Izzo. But the NBA is too enticing to refuse. He therefore integrates into the video department of the Pistons.
He must then dissect Detroit’s opponents and prepare video sequences for the coaches. A job that pushes him until late at night, when the opponent in question plays in the West, but also demands a lot from him during the day, since he then has to show the images to the staff. “We work in the night shift, but also in the day shift”summarizes Brink for The Athletic.
In 2016, he was entitled to a promotion and became a video assistant. His missions are still the same, with one notable difference: now he travels with the team. For two seasons, he accompanied the players on planes. In 2018, Stan Van Gundy leaves and Jordan Brink imagines himself, too, packing his bags. He then begins to look for work elsewhere.
“I was very nervous,” he remembers. “In these trades, we often hear about job security, that it is a subject of concern. With the arrival of a new coach, I assumed that I was not going to come back, that he was going to choose his men, those he already knew. »
No future, no more daily life, he thinks to slam the door…
Finally, after speaking with several members of Van Gundy’s staff, Dwane Casey keeps him. “His future looks bright”, even slips the former Toronto coach. Except that Jordan Brink is still stuck in the video room and he can’t see another future. Especially since the daily life of a video assistant is very demanding.
“If we count my season in the G-League, where I worked like crazy, very late at night, then we have a period that dates back to 2014-2015 and that weighs. I missed a friend’s wedding or a family event. I was at a time in my life where I wondered if it was worth it. Sometimes I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. »
In 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, he reached the point of no return. Exhausted, he is in burnout and now looks towards the exit, to relieve himself.
“I had to step aside to take care of myself. I was facing a wall, I wanted to leave the world of basketball. I talked to Casey about it. He understood my message. I ended up staying in Detroit and got promoted after that season. »
… before becoming an assistant and coach in the Summer League
Jordan Brink is finally leaving screens and video work to become an assistant coach, in charge of player development. Not an easy task when you know that the Pistons are a rebuilding team with a lot of young players that need to be grown. Faced with this challenge, for the past two years, he has rediscovered desire and passion.
“I didn’t want to become a game systems coach,” he confides. “The trick of coaching, for me, is relational. To push the players to work, to adhere to a common goal. I love this part of the job, that of developing players. It’s relationship based first and foremost. The better it is, the harder the player can work and receive advice. »
Finally, new promotion for Brink in recent days, with his arrival on the Pistons bench for the Summer League in Las Vegas, from July 7 to 17. A nice reward, two years after his abortive departure.
“It’s definitely special for me, compared to where I was 18 months ago now. I was at the bottom of the hole. It’s a culmination of all my experiences, all my relationships for six or seven years in the NBA. The circle is complete. Representing this franchise, this group of people, is unique. It’s a huge honour. »