Steve Blake | Welcome to Sydney
|Luke Sicari||Nov 11, 2016|
It was never going to be easy for Steve Blake.
A 13-year NBA veteran, Blake’s shock signing with the Sydney Kings meant the 36-year-old had to endure numerous life-changing experiences. Blake had to move to Australia, leaving his wife, Kristen, and three sons – all of whom are under the age of 10 – back home in Oregon. The choice to sign with the Kings was one made after Blake had some serious chats with his family, the former 38th pick in the 2003 draft explained.
“Once the opportunity arose, it took me a good week or so to figure it out,” Blake told The Pick and Roll.
“I was discussing a lot of things with my wife and my agent and just seeing if it was something I was going to follow through with. It took a lot of long talks with my family and then I finally came to a decision.”
Three weeks removed from his signing in Sydney, Blake is praiseful of the NBL, but admits it has been a challenging adjustment period. Blake is averaging 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists after four games, but it is the nuances of the competition, something as simple as knowing your opponent, that Blake has struggled to get accustomed to.
“I’ve played against a lot of the guys in the NBA for so long, I just knew most things about them, I could put a name to a face,” Blake said.
“I come here and I don’t know that. Coach will be like, ‘go cover this guy’, and they say his name, and I’m like, ‘what does he look like?’ It takes some time to figure all that out.”
Not only have those little things caught Blake off guard, but the differences between the NBA game and that of the NBL, have been noticeable to the Florida native. The most obvious being the time differential where the NBL plays under the FIBA 40-minute rules, while the NBA is ran under their own 48-minute game guidelines.
For Blake, who has spent about 44 percent of his life playing in the NBA, the differing rules have been yet another adaptation process in his NBL transition.
“In some ways, yeah, for sure,” Blake said, when asked if the rule changes have been challenging to get used to.
“You can’t use your hands as much on the perimeter. There’s different ways you need to play the post, you can’t use two arms, so it is a little bit of a challenge getting used to that.
“It also affects the spacing of the offences and how they are ran. There are some similarities [to the NBA] but there are some differences in there as far as how the defence can just stay in the key and there is no defensive three seconds.
“The length of the three-point line really spreads out the defences and offences, so it kind of changes things. It is an up-tempo game but in a different way to the NBA.
The Kings enter their round six clash with Melbourne United second on the ladder, with a 6-3 record, already matching their win total from last season’s campaign. One of the main reasons for this has been the chemistry amongst the squad, evident by Josh Powell’s Instagram videos of Sydney singing their team song after victories.
This togetherness has helped ease Blake’s progression, especially being around Powell, as the duo know each other from their NBA days.
“He is a guy that I’ve known and he is a familiar face to me, so it’s always nice to have that,” Blake said of Powell.
“With all the guys, they’ve all welcomed me and it’s a really really good, close tight-knit group, so that’s made it really easy for me as a whole.”
While things are different, one thing Blake acknowledged was the level of competition in the NBL, suchlike the NBA, is one of a high quality.
“The competition is great,” Blake said.
“The guys are extremely skilled, compete really really hard and are physical. It’s been challenging but good at the same.”