A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to a friend that Olmsted Falls native Mike Gansey had been traded from the Idaho Stampede to the Erie Bayhawks. Eyes instantly lit up — Mike Gansey? Loved Mike Gansey, I wonder how he's doing these days.
Gansey, if you remember, jumped to the national scene during an epic run through March Madness by West Virginia, then suffered a truly devastating injury that has stunted his basketball career.
This week, Gansey was named the D-League Performer of the Week after tallying 24.3 ppg during that stretch. The Bayhawks have only lost one game since Gansey joined the squad.
It's a measure of success that would have seemed far fetched three years ago when Gansey contracted a scary case of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a sometimes life-threatening antibiotic restistant bacteria, that ravaged his leg, landed him in the hospital for weeks on end, and devastated his conditioning.
After two stings of play in Europe, Gansey is just starting to feel like himself.
"After that, I took a whole year off. I didn't do conditioning for five or six months," says Gansey. "Then I played in the summer league with the Clippers and went over to Italy. Even then, I was down to about 165-pounds. I had to get the weight back. I was down to square zero conditioning-wise. It took me about two years, to about halfway through the year last year in Germany, to feel like myself. My weight is still down 10-15 pounds from college, but I finally feel good — like I did back in college."
What Europe did provide, besides a chance to rehab his knee, was some financial security so he could take his chances at pursuing his NBA dream in the D-League this year.
"Obviously, overseas you get the tax-free money," says Gansey. "They give you an apartment and a car and they pay a very good salary. You get everything. I figured I was pretty well off financially, so maybe I could afford to stay in the states for the year, because the D-League pays nothing. But to be here and give it a shot, hopefully bigger and better things will happen in the future."
As for the dream of a call-up, Gansey is both realistic and hopeful. He's just hitting his stride in Erie, and like he said before, finally feeling completely healthy for the first time.
"Anybody that's been through what [the infection] we [he and LeCharles Bentley] have been through -- you just look up and realize you're lucky to be playing, let alone alive," he says. "I talk to my agent a lot, obviously, but I'm a realist. If it happens [a call-up], then it happens. I control what I do everyday in practice. That other stuff worries about itself.
Gansey is now also delving into the blogging world. His first guest post for the fantastic and essential D-League blog Ridiculous Upside is up today.