Underdog stories about Northeast Ohioans are my favorite ones.
Like when they said Earl Boykins was too small to play in the League right up until he played a dozen years in it. Or when Kelly Pavlik wasn't good enough to beat Jermaine Taylor up until he knocked him out. Or even back when record companies wouldn't sign a rap group from Cleveland named Bone Thugs N Harmony, who then outsold the Beatles. Or when people said Drew Carey wasn't cool enough to hold Bob Barker's skinny microphone, and then he took over The Price Is Right.
Okay maybe I made that one about Drew Carey up. He probably isn't as cool as Bob Barker.
I'm not making anything up when I say that Cleveland's own Brian Kortovich can hoop with anybody though, and I hope his underdog story includes a chapter with his hometown Cavaliers this season. I'd like to see them extend BK an invite to training camp in a couple weeks, and see what he does with it from there.
Brian first came on the scene way back in the day for the Holy Name Green Wave in the North Coast League if you didn't know. I knew that, primarily because I was pulled from the Lake Catholic - Holy Name game due to the fact that I couldn't really cover him at all. It's not my fault though Coach, I never said I was a professional basketball player.
Brian Kortovich is however, and has been for some time now. After Holy Name, he transferred to Brunswick before starring at Cuyahoga Community College. He scored 20 points per game there, wearing the same jersey that NBA All Star Ben Wallace once did. Big Ben didn't get a DI look out of Tri-C though, because that didn't happen to anybody who played there until about ten years after Wallace. When Brian Kortovich was offered a full ride from Bobby Gonzalez and the Manhattan Jaspers.
BK could've played at Manhattan too, in fact he would've played there, during the same time Manhattan was winning NCAA tournament games. Unfortunately though an NCAA recruiting issue beyond his control forced him to leave the program. He transferred to Urbana College as a result, and scored a ton of points there before graduating in 2006. Since then he's played four seasons professionally overseas in Kuwait, Israel, France, Italy, and the Dominican Republic. He was initially drafted into the NBA D-League in 2009 as well, and has spent his off-seasons repping Cleveland against the top competition in the Mecca of Basketball - New York City.
During the last two seasons, Brian has been to the preseason workouts and camps for both the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets respectively. Knicks Assistant Coach Dan D'Antoni said of Kortovich at the time, "Brian is a lights out shooter and has a great understanding of the game. He has been overlooked for whatever reason. He can play in the NBA and proved it against our guys. There’s a spot for Brian on every NBA roster.” The following season, New Jersey Nets SG Anthony Morrow added, “Brian’s a great floor leader, very heady, can make shots off the dribble or catch and shoot. He’s got a chance to make an NBA roster and his work ethic will keep him in the league.”
This season I'm saying to the Cleveland Cavaliers, invite this guy to training camp. He's from Cleveland, and epitomizes who we are here. All heart, never given a chance, forced to overcome obstacle after obstacle, and earning everything we ever get along the way. Don't let any of that fool you though, because he can play too. I'm not saying just hand him a roster spot, I'm just saying give BK a shot. He's been grinding all over the globe with Cleveland on his back, now let him bring his basketball journey full circle and let's see what happens from there. Maybe he surprises some people, you never know.
For more info on Brian Kortovich check him out at his website here, or follow him on twitter here.