He's big in England.
Portland Trail Blazers big man Joel Freeland is garnering quite a bit of attention back home in Great Britain in advance of his NBA debut, expected to take place on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's a round-up.
Brendan Gallagher of The Telegraph in Great Britain reflects on Freeland's journey from supermarket stock boy to the NBA.
Joel Freeland, who not so long ago used to stack the shelves at Sainsbury's in Farnham to earn pocket money to fund his basketball career, will make his NBA debut for the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday when his new team tackle the LA Lakers in their opening match of the season.
"Its been a little bit tough because it's a different game to that in Europe," says Freeland just hours before his debut at the Rose Garden where the Blazers fans are generally reckoned to be the noisiest in the NBA. "I knew it would take time but I am enjoying every minute of it. I've got an opportunity here to do something special and I'm really taking advantage of it.
"It wouldn't really matter to me who we opened up against because every team in the NBA has great quality and amazing players but to play against the Lakers will be incredible. To be up against Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol an to even be on the same court as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash is going to be amazing but we have got a job to do. We have got to get the win, some how some way and I think we are ready to do that. We have got a young team with a lot of energy and not a lot of experience. Five of the squad are NBA rookies with no NBA minutes but we are looking good."
Really nice piece. Give it a read.
Here's more from Aimee Lewis of BBC Sport.
When Joel Freeland steps into the glaring lights of the Rose Garden on Wednesday evening, surrounded by nearly 20,000 hollering fans and a cluster of gambolling cheerleaders, the Englishman could be forgiven for puffing his cheeks and shaking his head in disbelief.
"To even be on the same court as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash is going to be an amazing experience," says Freeland, a member of Team GB's basketball team at London 2012.
Also, the Sun with a little more from Freeland, who they have brilliantly dubbed the "Shelf made millionaire."
Joel Freeland completes his journey from Sainsbury's shelf stacker to millionaire basketball superstar when he makes his NBA debut tonight.
He said: "Sainsbury's feels a long time ago! I've been given the opportunity to play in the best basketball league in the world and I'm going to take full advantage."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter