Kris Joseph Continues to Overcome Obstacles

Syracuse's Kris Joseph goes up with a shot as he splits the defense of Seton Hall's Keon Lawrence, left, and Jeff Robinson, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009, in Newark, N.J. Syracuse beat Seton Hall 80-73. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Syracuse's Kris Joseph goes up with a shot as he splits the defense of Seton Hall's Keon Lawrence, left, and Jeff Robinson, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009, in Newark, N.J. Syracuse beat Seton Hall 80-73. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) /

While the legend of Michael Jordan being cut from his high school team has stuck around despite its loose definition of the word ‘cut’, former Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Joseph can attest to what it feels like to actually be cut.

At the time he was told that he was not good enough, but over the past decade he has proven time and time again that he is deserving of every opportunity that has come his way.

From getting cut from a club team while he was a teenager to eventually going on to play professionally both in the NBA and internationally, Kris Joseph is a reminder that being told ‘no’ by a team isn’t the end of the road.

Growing up in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Joseph was born into a town that featured hockey prominently rather than basketball. In an interview with Nothin’ But Nets, Joseph noted that his family played a big role in getting started with the game.

“Montreal, more than any city in Canada, is a hockey city through and through. Luckily though, my brother Maurice was a basketball addict and being a little brother I wanted to do what he did. We would watch NBA on NBC together all the time, play horse in trash cans and things like that.”

His brother’s passion initially sparked a personal interest in the game, but that was nearly derailed when he was cut from a club team when he was 14-years old. The setback was tough, but it made him more determined once the school season rolled around.

“After being cut I didn’t lose hope or faith. I ended up playing for my high school team and even made a different city team the following year, so everything worked out fine. If anything, it gave me motivation to prove them wrong.”

As his basketball career began to grow, it was clear that better opportunities were to be had elsewhere and at the recommendation of his youth coach, Joseph moved on his own from Montreal to Washington, D.C. for the remainder of his high school career.

“The toughest adjustment was just being away from family and friends. I was ready for the move, but at that age you find yourself getting homesick a lot. My family and friends pushed me and assured me daily that it would all pay off in the end.”

Much like his family and friends had told him, it did end up paying off in the end. His move to DC helped him gain exposure all over the country, but especially on the East Coast, where Jim Boehiem and the staff at Syracuse took notice of him and offered him a scholarship.

“Syracuse was my dream school. I remember buying college basketball games and creating myself on Syracuse and I also watched Carmelo Anthony really closely growing up. When I got to DC and I was getting all these scholarship offers, I was pleased and honored, but I was waiting patiently for that Syracuse letter. Coach Rob Murphy finally came around and it wasn’t long after that I committed verbally to Syracuse.”

Joseph jumped right into the world of Division 1 basketball headfirst and by the time he was a sophomore, he had been named Big East Player of the Year. With two years on the All-Big East teams and a spot on the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American team during his senior year, he set his sights on the next level.

Having played in Syracuse’s well-known zone defense, there were some questions that surrounded his ability to adapt to the next level, just as many Orange before him had heard.

“We practiced playing man-to-man defense a lot, which is something that most people don’t know because in the games we never, or rarely, come out the zone. It’s always a question that Syracuse guys get asked, though. The zone demanded a lot of mobility, agility and speed, which are all things you need to play man-to-man.”

Even with those concerns, Joseph was able to prove his professional readiness throughout the pre-draft process. With his senior year being a bit of a drop off from his junior year, Joseph was still unsure of where he would be headed once drafted day rolled around.

“Going into the draft I knew that I had a good chance of being picked. I didn’t have the senior year that most expected me to have, but we had a team full of great players and only one ball to play with. I was still able to lead the team in scoring and we went to the Elite Eight, so I knew that I had a great chance of being picked up at some point.”

Even with the uncertainty regarding his landing spot, Joseph remained calm as draft day had arrived.

“Draft day was pretty laid back for me. I was home in Montreal and we just had a little gathering with family and close friends. We watched together very patiently and waiting until the 51st pick was long. It was worth it though to hear your name called no matter how it happens or how long you wait.”

Selected by the Boston Celtics, Joseph was ready to join a successful team that was packed with legendary talent. His college career hadn’t end quite the way he would have liked, but any ill feelings he felt evaporated once he stepped on an NBA court.

“It was a surreal feeling to be warming up along side future Hall of Famers like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo while having Doc Rivers as the coach. It was incredible.”

The experience of getting to the NBA was a great one, but he would spend the year up and down between the Celtics in the D-League. After six appearances in Boston, the team decided to waive him at the start of the 2014 calendar year.

A player with his skill set didn’t go without work for long, however, and within a few months he had signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

“After I had been released by the Celtics, I was really happy about the opportunity to learn and to grow as a player while joining them for the regular season and the playoffs. They have a great organization over there in Brooklyn.”

The opportunity to join the Nets was made even greater with the playoff experience, something he probably couldn’t have imagined after he had been waived just a few months before.

“Experiencing the playoffs for the first time was great for. We came up short as a team against the Bulls, but that was a great time.”

After returning to the D-League for another year, Joseph chose to head internationally to play in France.

“I could have stayed, but after speaking to my agent and family I thought that financially it would be better to go overseas”

Now with Orleans Loiret Basket in France, Joseph has continued to develop his game and has tapped into the potential that was raved about during his time at Syracuse.

“I’m a much smarter player than I was coming out of college. I shoot the ball much better, too, but the changes aren’t too dramatic because I was a pretty well-rounded player but I have polished all of the aspects of my game.”

Though he has been successful during his time in France, Joseph has left the door open for a return to the NBA should the opportunity arise.

“I definitely wouldn’t mind giving it another shot. I was only able to play in the Summer League one time and that hurt me because I wasn’t able to get used to the NBA as quickly as other young players. I believe that if I had gotten drafted to a team like the 76ers where there is no immediate pressure to be great that I would still be in the league today. I never really had the opportunity to play and flourish.”

Should the opportunity present itself, Joseph will welcome it with open arms.

“The NBA is the best league in the world, so being able to get back would mean a lot. So many things have to fall right into place, though, from the rosters, people at your position and all those sorts of things. You have to give yourself the best chance to make a roster, but it would be great to get back.”

In addition to his work on the court, Joseph has opened the Kris Joseph Basketball Academy to help open up opportunities in the basketball world.

“KJBA is something that I always wanted to do growing up. It means a lot to me to have my own camp in my own city where I grew up, because I didn’t have many academies like this one to go to as a young hooper. I just give these kids an opportunity to learn from some D1 guys, guys who have went on to play professionally and it means a lot to the kids. It also means a lot to me to be able to give back to the kids in and around the city.”

With a career that has had many stops along the way and still remains bright, Kris Joseph is an example for the kids of his academy, and people in general, that opportunity will come through hard work.


Quick Questions

Why do you wear #32?
The story behind 32 is pretty simple. I wanted to wear 23 in college because of my brother., so when they asked me what number I wanted at Syracuse I told them 23 and at the time that was Eric Devendorf’s number, but they assured me that he would most likely be gone to the draft. He ended up tearing his ACL and returning for another year, so I just flipped the numbers and I’ve stuck with it ever since.

Who is in your all-time starting five?
PG: Allen Iverson
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Michael Jordan
PF: LeBron James
C: Shaquille O’Neal

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up?
Kobe Bryant