OKC Thunder: Royal Ivey's time as an unemployed NBA veteran was brutal

Ivey: “It's definitely a humbling situation. It's kind of like purgatory.”
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 19, 2014

Royal Ivey's routine as an unemployed NBA veteran could best be described as organized chaos.

After being waived by Atlanta before the start of the regular season, and before receiving the call that brought him back to Oklahoma City last week, Ivey's road back to the big leagues took him on a strange journey. It included workouts inside elementary schools, pick-up games with no-names in open gyms and drill work with college and NBA D-League players he was clearly better than.

“It's definitely a humbling situation,” said Ivey, who signed a 10-day contract with the Thunder last Thursday.

Gone were the teammates and trainers, the coaches and the camaraderie, the schedule and the structure.

One day, Ivey was in the NBA fold, gearing up for his 10th NBA season, and the next he was isolated, forced to figure things out on his own.

“It's kind of like purgatory,” Ivey said.

Ivey passed on a handful of overseas opportunities, but the near three-month wait before his next job arrived proved brutal.

“You never know when that call's coming,” Ivey said.

The challenge was for Ivey to keep himself ready for whenever it might come.

That's when things got interesting.

“I was playing pickup with everybody,” Ivey said. “People just trying to get into shape and get run.”

Back home in New York, Ivey linked up with friends and fellow New York natives Andre Barrett, the former Seton Hall guard, and Russell Robinson, the former Kansas guard. Both became consistent workout partners.

But Ivey needed more.

“It's not really pushing you,” Ivey said. “It's really for the cardio. The competition, you just played whoever you could play. That's the name of the game. Try to find run.”

That search took Ivey to Newark, Del., where he hooked up with the D-League's Delaware 87ers. A previous relationship with 87ers coach Rod Barker allowed Ivey to serve as a special consultant of sorts. He assisted the team's guards in practices and stepped into drills to maintain his sharpness.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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