Better late than never, the Adam Morrison story was about to begin.
This interview was supposed to have occurred the day before, and the delay was not only symbolic but also understandable considering the logistics. As if managing the eight-hour time difference and making a video phone call from Serbia to the United States wasn't tricky enough, there was the unforeseen drama on the roads that had pushed back the original plan.
Morrison and his father, John, ran into construction while returning from his Red Star Belgrade practice the night before, and a 20-minute drive turned into a two-hour trek when the language barrier also got in the way. But Morrison has finally found someone to speak his native tongue now, and he will spend some 40 minutes discussing the many roadblocks and reroutes he endured in these last four frustrating years.
The 27-year-old who went from cult hero in college to purported NBA bust describes the inauspicious start in Charlotte, from the pressure of being the No. 3 pick in 2006 to the devastating knee injury that cost him a season, and how the hopeful return went awry with his unproductive pairing with coach Larry Brown. He talks about the two lost years with the Lakers in Los Angeles, a professional hell of individual failure and collective success where he might have been the most mocked champion in the history of the game. He details the disappearing act thereafter, how his release from the Washington Wizards in October 2010 led to such a low that he fell out of love with the game that once inspired him.
Photo Gallery: Adam Morrison through the years
But he wouldn't have agreed to chat if his story stopped there, his many failures leading to so much embarrassment and a quiet exit from the basketball world. Nor was he looking to recount the Gonzaga glory days, those halcyon times when the long-haired forward was deemed "a poor man's Larry Bird" and captivated the country in a season-long shootout with Duke's J.J. Redick.
No, as Morrison twirls those unleashed locks in his fingers and agrees to share some of his soul for once, this conversation is happening because he is in the midst of a revival that simply must be explained.
A pair of online videos featuring Morrison in all his unique glory emerged like digital diamonds in this NBA lockout rough last month. One of them showed him burying deep jumpers and risky runners like before*, his play begging the question of where that fire and flare had been all this time. The other featured the feisty side that used to define him**, with Morrison involved in a scuffle and ejection so full of fury and raw passion that it gained notice half a world away. They were reminders of what he once was and clues of what he might become again, hints at a long-overdue revolution from the man who had seemed to surrender in recent years.
Is Adam Morrison back? He certainly is, but not in the way you might think.
...Continued at SI.com