Deron Washington enjoyed everything about Italy during his time in one of the most beautiful countries in the world – from mountains and culture to cities, food and wine.
But he feels really lucky to be home with his family in Charlotte these days.
Washington, who played for the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team from 2004-2008 and established himself as a world-class dunker and versatile defenseman, has spent the past six seasons playing professional basketball. in Italy. The COVID-19 pandemic has essentially suspended all sports in the world, and it has left Washington and his wife with a difficult decision – to stay in Italy, where the coronavirus continues to devastate the population, or to try to return to the States – United with their three boys, including a 9 year old, a 5 year old and a 6 month old.
The unknown of when or if a season would resume complicated his situation.
“At first we were going to play without fans in the stands, and we did that during a game before they canceled everything,” Washington said by phone last week. “I think we were there about 3.5 weeks after that game. We tried to wait to see if they would be able to continue [the season], if we could get that call to start the league, then we wouldn’t have to go through all of these airports. And then also coming home with three kids, including a newborn baby, I was like, “I just don’t want to take that risk.”
“Then we definitely started to worry. We kept hearing [President Donald] Trump was talking about closing the borders and the Americans couldn’t come back. They were going to close airports, and then there would only be certain airports that you could go through. So it started to get hectic. “
Eventually, Washington and his wife returned to the United States, making a rather long and roundabout journey. As any parent can attest, traveling with young children isn’t really child’s play. The Washington family drove 90 minutes from Trieste to Venice, took a one hour flight to Rome, and spent the night in Rome. The next day they flew from Rome to New York, then from New York to Charlotte.
“It was difficult, especially with a newborn baby,” Washington admitted. “But he held on.”
Washington and his family are finding things a little simpler these days, even with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting outings and gatherings. They remain at their Charlotte residence, a place they have called home for nine years.
Of course, for Washington he considers his basketball court a second home, and in that sense he has lived almost all over the world.
After a formidable career with the Hokies – he started 125 of 128 games and averaged 11 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for his career – Washington found himself selected by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the NBA Draft 2008. He played for the Pistons’ summer league team that summer and went camping with the team, but the Pistons gave him up and sent him to Israel, where he spent the 2008-09 season.
In 2009 he returned to the United States and attended the Pistons’ veterans camp, but the Pistons gave him up again and he played in the NBA D-League for that season with two different teams (Tulsa and Los Angeles).
In the end, playing professionally abroad was more lucrative for Washington than chasing a spot on the NBA team by playing in the NBA nurturing leagues in the United States. checks and immerse himself and his family in different cultures.
He played in Spain for two seasons, returned to Israel for one season, played in Italy for a year, returned to Israel for the third time and has now settled in Italy, where he has spent the last six seasons. (with five different teams). He lived in places like Cremona, Turin, Venice and Trieste.
“I loved it,” Washington said. “It’s amazing to live in all these different places, these different cultures. It’s just exciting. You never know what you’re going to get into next year. Hope this is a good situation. I have never had negative situations. Everything has gone well so far.
Washington spent last season with a professional team in Trieste, a city of about 250,000 people in the northeast of the country. By the time the season ended, he was averaging nearly 10 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Washington and his family enjoyed the city and the organization, but of all the places they traveled, he admitted he felt a connection to Turin, Italy, the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics. The city is located in the Alps near the Franco-Italian border.
“It’s one of my favorite cities,” Washington said. “It’s a pretty big city [more than 800,000 inhabitants]. There are a lot of them out there, but it’s hard to decide. I’ve been to Venice, which is really cool. The region of Tuscany is also very pleasant. But Turin [Turin] was a big city. There was a lot to do. The basketball was great. Just the mountains, the scenery and the city, we loved the vibe they had.
Things have been going well on the pitch for Washington as well during his career. He played for two separate teams that won Basketball Champions League championships, and one of his teams won a EuroCup title, which earned him three championships in his career.
In fact, the only time he was turned away was during the 2018-19 season when he tore ligaments in his shoulder, underwent surgery and missed part of the season. .
“I was away for about 10 months before returning to play,” he said. “It was my first serious injury where I missed half a season. I was going to dunk and my legs were pulled out. I fell right on my shoulder.