Chris Douglas-Roberts is Ready

Photo Credit: Sergio Hentschel

By: Bobby Karalla --- @BobbyKaralla

On the morning of Legends’ Media Day, Chris Douglas-Roberts was among the last players to arrive – not because he overslept, not because he’s habitually late. It was because he rode his bike to the gym. As soon as he walked onto the floor, he changed his shoes, did some interviews, posed for pictures, and then grabbed a ball. It was time to work.

It was an unassuming way for a player with Douglas-Roberts’ resume to make his appearance and begin his day. His routine might not sound glamorous, but for a player who’s spent more time in the NBA than most current D-League players, glamor isn’t what he’s craving. What he wants is a chance to stick on an NBA roster. And that means working on the little things, like balancing between scoring and facilitating, increasing efficiency, and, perhaps most importantly, staying positive.

“I’m really big on positive energy,” Douglas-Roberts said. “I don’t deal with negative people. I don’t like negative energy at all. It’s all about staying positive to me.”

To this point in his career, Douglas-Roberts, or CDR as he’s known by, has spent time on four different NBA regular-season rosters and most recently played with the Los Angeles Lakers’ summer league team. A month ago, Douglas-Roberts made headlines when he posted a picture of Kobe on his Instagram accompanied by a story from a Lakers pre-season practice in 2012. The Legends forward and Lakers superstar faced each other one-on-one for an entire practice, and things got physical. Douglas-Roberts didn’t back down. Basketball doesn’t always need to be pretty.

“I always look at those guys as my peers,” he said. “I never get too caught up in another guy, because I see myself as a peer more than anything.”

Douglas-Roberts most recently played in the NBA last season with the Dallas Mavericks, for whom he appeared in six games before finishing the season with the Legends, where he averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. His shooting line with the Legends was a magnificent 49.4/39.5/90.4.

“(Playing in Dallas) was a great opportunity. Things didn’t work out for whatever reason, but it was a great opportunity,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to doing the same things and seeing what happens.”

Photo Credit: Texas Legends

There seems to be no consensus among writers when it comes to characterizing Douglas-Roberts’ game. He’s a scorer, he’s a jack-of-all-trades guy, he’s good at many things but not great at enough, he’s inefficient. When he played in Las Vegas with the Lakers’ summer league squad, Douglas-Roberts said he heard the criticism, and tried to demonstrate what else he can do besides score. He averaged 8.6 points and a shade under 2 assists per game.

“Everybody was expecting me to go and average 25,” he said. “I go back to being positive and remaining focused … I went down there and I was hearing all this stuff like ‘he’s just a scorer, he’s not scoring.’”

Hearing criticism is something many players on this Legends roster have in common. Devin Ebanks and Terrel Harris spent significant time with the Lakers and Miami Heat, respectively: Ebanks during last year’s Kobe Bryant/Dwight Howard soap opera, and Harris during the Heat’s first title-winning season in 2011-12. Harris said the amount of media scrutiny and national attention at times could make it difficult to focus on his game.

“It was hard for me because I’d never got that much attention. Even though it wasn’t me that was actually getting it, just being around it and seeing that stuff was pretty overwhelming,” he said. “But you get used to it and you learn how to deal with it. It makes you have to learn how to watch yourself more. That’s where I think the professionalism comes in more, because there are always people watching. You don’t realize it when you’re not getting the attention, but once you see how it is and once you live it, you understand that people are really always watching and you really have to carry yourself a certain way as an NBA player, as a professional.”

Photo Credit: Texas Legends

Douglas-Roberts’ time in the pre-season with last year’s Lakers team, the same one Ebanks played with, likely gave him a sniff of that level of attention. He seems to be prepared to deal with the occasional over-magnification of things, like, for example, his playing style.

“Being a professional, there’s always going to be something, no matter what profession you’re in,” he said. “There’s always going to be other things going on, a possible controversy in the work place. That’s just a part of it. You have to just focus on you – get better every day, being positive every day.”

As one of the more accomplished players in the D-League, it seems likely that Douglas-Roberts will get another call to play in the NBA. If he continues to approach a 50/40/90 line, that call might come sooner than later. Douglas-Roberts just wants that chance. Many players in recent years have stood out in the D-League before making an impact on an NBA roster. James Anderson, for example, played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last season and is now starting for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Douglas-Roberts will most likely get that opportunity, and though he might not be able to ride his bike to the arena once it happens, his approach won’t change. He’ll cancel out the noise, grab a ball, and go to work.