Season in Israel was beneficial for former Colorado guard Carlon Brown

Strong performance overseas helps land summer gig with Nuggets
by Aaron Lopez

On the eve of boarding a flight to Israel last August, Carlon Brown was paying close attention to CNN and Fox News as the cable networks provided coverage of a developing story in the Middle East.

With the United States considering action against the Syrian government for a deadly chemical attack, Syria threated to retaliate against nearby Tel Aviv – the second-largest city in Israel.

Brown, who helped lead the University of Colorado win the 2011-12 Pac-12 Tournament, had recently agreed to a contract with Hapoel SP Tel Aviv of the Israeli Basketball Super League.

As the images unfolded on the screen, Brown wondered if he had made the right decision in pursuit of his NBA dream.

“I was very nervous. My wife was nervous,” he said. “We were on the fence about it. Should we go? Should we not go? We turned on CNN and it was a big thing. They said citizens were lining up to buy gas masks.”

After more discussions, Brown and his wife decided to fly to Israel the following day. Upon landing in Tel Aviv, they were surprised – and relieved – to find no indication of political unrest.

“It was everyday life,” Brown said. “Nobody was wearing a gas mask. Nobody’s panicking or paranoid. It was that way the whole year – sunny, beautiful weather. The beaches were warm. It was a great experience.”

After averaging 19.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for Hapoel Tel Aviv, the 6-foot-5 guard is set to play for the Denver Nuggets at the 2014 Samsung Summer League. Denver’s first game is Saturday against the Toronto Raptors.

“It’s an honor and privilege that (the Nuggets) noticed what I did thousands of miles away because a lot of people take it for granted, “Brown said. “Each and every opportunity you receive, someone’s always watching. You have to take advantage of each opportunity you have.”

Brown certainly has gained an appreciation for the game and what it takes to succeed after going undrafted out of Colorado two years.

After spending the 2012-13 season playing in the NBA Development League with the Idaho Stampede and Santa Cruz Warriors, he opted to head overseas in hopes of expanding his game.

“To get where you want to be, you have to do different things,” Brown said. “I had never been overseas before. I was like, ‘Look, I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve got nothing to lose.’ ”

Because Brown was on a one-year deal in Israel, he can pursue a spot on an NBA roster without worrying about a buyout or other contractual issues. As he showed last year, he is willing to play overseas, but his first choice is to stay closer to home.

“Growing up in America, your goal is not to be in the Euroleague or the Eurocup,” he said. “That’s no disrespect to those leagues, but growing up as a kid in America, you want to play in the NBA. Now I’m looking forward to the next step in the journey.”