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We Were North: Joey Dorsey, from Bmore to Barca

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Let’s look back at some old Raptor friends and ask: where are they now?

NBA: Houston Rockets at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Elmer Dorsey was born on December 16th, 1983 in Baltimore, Maryland. Richard was a wild child in a wild city. As a kid he'd bounce off walls so much his mother called him Joey, after a baby kangaroo. As 'Joey' grew (on his way to looking like Luke Cage's body double), he found it harder to control himself. Good luck to anyone who thought they could control him either. Baltimore's public school system tried, and failed. Dorsey got expelled from middle school, forcing his mother to enroll him at New Foundations, an alternative school which at that time had 35 students, ranging in age from 10 to 21.

Dorsey decided a new school was the right place to become a new kid. His behaviour improved greatly and he began to focus on what would be his life's work — basketball. In 2001 Dorsey re-entered the public school system, this time with Frederick Douglass High in the city's north side. There he became a Mighty Duck. Dorsey shone brightly on the area's number one high school squad, thanks in part to his incredible bulk. Dorsey's time with Douglass high was short lived, though. Big colleges were keeping tabs on him and to prepare for recruiters Dorsey took his talents (and size) to North Carolina, and the Mount Zion and Laurinburg Institute prep-schools.

In 2004, the 20-year old 6'9" and 260lb Dorsey joined the University of Memphis and wore number 25, after his hometown hero Carmelo Anthony. Dorsey's four years as a Tiger were frustrating. His size was daunting in college ball and he knew how to defend and rebound, but the offensive side of the game escaped him. But the question that hung over Dorsey's head was whether he had the guts, intensity, and aggression to succeed at the sport. It was this kinda thing that got him kicked out of school, which he worked to temper down, now he had to learn how to unleash it — albeit responsibly.

Being a gentle giant in the classroom served Dorsey well, but John Calipari didn't want to see that on the court. Dorsey worked on bringing more intimidation to his game, and it worked enough for him to scoop Defensive Player of the Year honours for the 2006-07 season, a season in which he was also selected for his conference's All-Defensive Team. In 2007 Dorsey tried to bring intensity off the court too, chirping at rival big Greg Oden and calling him overrated — only to see Oden overpower him at that year's NCAA tournament. The following year Dorsey and his Tigers (featuring Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts) made it to the NCAA championship game, but fell short to Kansas 75-68 in a thrilling overtime game.

When Dorsey declared for the NBA draft, scouts were lukewarm. He was big, but not enormous. Strong, but not Herculean. A good defender, but little else. Few considered him having much of an upside. Despite this, his rebounding, and improved intensity, helped him make it to the show. In 2008, with the 33rd overall pick he was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers, and then flipped to the Houston Rockets for 25th pick Nicolas Batum.

In Dorsey's first NBA season he played in three games. He scored two points and grabbed a single rebound. Much of that time was spent with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League, where he did OK. On February 18th, 2010 Dorsey was sent to Sacramento in a trade that saw Tracy McGrady make it to the New York Knicks. A month later Dorsey was waived. On April 4th, he crossed the border and took his first job outside the USA, signing a non-guaranteed contract with the Toronto Raptors.

Dorsey came to a Raptors team in flux. Chris Both had just departed for South Beach, Andrea Bargnani had been designated the team's 'star player' and sophomore DeMar DeRozan was just trying to figure out his game. On the depth chart Dorsey was placed behind power forwards Amir Johnson and a rookie Ed Davis. The team would finish dead last in the division with a 22-60 record in the 2010-11 season. On this bad team, during this bad season, Dorsey — in 12 minutes per games — put up career high averages in points (3.1), rebounds (4.4), assists (.6), steals (.6), and blocks (.4). Dorsey featured in 43 games that season, starting nine. That season he also featured on one of Paul Pierce's best ever posters.

Dorsey's time in Toronto, and the odd fondness some may hold for him, is yet another product of Raps fans desperately looking for something to make the ordeal of post-Bosh-pre-Ujiri basketball that little bit more tolerable. No-one was blown away by Dorsey's skills, but his enthusiasm and occasional spark of ungodly power made him an entertaining reserve. But this wasn't enough to convince anyone to keep him around.

When his contract lapsed, Dorsey saw his North American market value dry up. With no NBA suitors vying for his services, Dorsey was forced to look outside the association for another shot at playing pro. That shot came from the Basque Country, wedged between Spain and France, and their most historic club — Caja Laboral (now known as Saski Baskona: Andrea Bargnani's current team).

With Laboral, Dorsey played only a dozen games, averaging just a pair of points. On January 10th, 2012, after just three months, he parted ways with the club. A day later he signed with Athens' Olympiacos. The Greek side have consistently been one of Europe's most dominant sides. In his first season, Olympiacos lifted both the Greek League title and the prestigious EuroLeague championship.

In that season Dorsey averaged over five points. But the real story was his rebounding and defensive play. Dorsey downright bullied his European foes. This lead to him being crowned the Greek League's Best Defender in 2012. Keen to repeat the success Dorsey and Olympiacos agreed to a new two year contract. However, the two sides would fall out just a few months later.

On November 7th, 2012 Dorsey was released by Olympiacos, two weeks after he criticized the club and refused to play for them. The animus from Dorsey seemed to stem from interest he had received from an NBA team, leading to a desperation on his part to get out of his Greek deal. However, after leaving the Greek and EuroLeague champions, Dorsey failed to make it onto an NBA roster. Instead he crossed the Greek-Turkish border to play for Gaziantep for the remainder of the 2012-13 season.

After an unremarkable run in Turkey Dorsey found himself on the door of one of the world's grandest (and most profitable) sports franchises — Barcelona. On July 17th, 2013 Dorsey signed a one year deal with FC Barcelona Lassa of the Spanish League. Dorsey's early Olympiacos form carried over to Barca and he proved that he was an elite defender (by European standards) and an above average player overall in both Spanish and EuroLeague competitions. During this spell he lifted the Spanish League title and the Spanish Cup. Dorsey's European experiment was a success, and people back home were beginning to notice.

On July 19th, 2014 Joey Dorsey got his second crack at the NBA, when he returned to the Houston Rockets. In the 2014-15 season Dorsey got into 69 games with the Rockets, and started 17 (career highs in the NBA). His maturation in Europe had improved his game (especially his limited offensive repertoire), but it was still not enough to cut it in the ruthless NBA. The following year he was traded to Denver, who then bought out his contract.

On August 29th, 2015 Dorsey flew back to Turkey and signed a one year deal with storied Istanbul club Galatasary. Although after just half a season he decided to bail in favour of Spain. That following February he signed with Barcelona again. In that shortened season Dorsey was true to his European form, though his field goal percentage reached a career high 74.1%. In the 2016 offseason Dorsey fielded offers from a number of top European clubs, including both Galatasary and Barcelona. Just like he did previously, he opted for Barca. On August 17th Dorsey signed a two-year contract extension with the Catalan super club.

Dorsey and Barcelona's domestic season started on October 2nd with a win over Manressa, that was followed by an overtime victory over Bargnani's Baskonia. After five games played, the team are 3-1-0-1 (wins-overtime wins-overtime losses-losses), which is good for fourth in the 17 team league. Barcelona's first EuroLeague game was a win over Russian side Kazan on October 14th. After losses to Fenerbache and Crvena zvezda mts [Ed. note: that’s the name of the team?] and a win over Bamberg, Dorsey's team find themselves ninth in the EuroLeague standings.

Dorsey may never play in the NBA again. But this former Raptor (who helped us a smile during a really crappy season) has shown that, if you're willing to go out — and sometimes travel far — to get them, there's way more opportunities out there to do what you love than you might think.

Elsewhere

- Andrea Bargnani's Saski Baskonia are currently fifth in the Spanish League with a 4-0-1-1 record. In EuroLeague play he poured in 26 points (going 10-for-13 from the field) versus Anadolu Efes Istanbul and scored 17 versus Zalgiris Kaunas (6-for-10 from the field).

- Maccabi Tel Aviv and Sonny Weems also beat Zalgiris in EuroLeague play this week (their 10th straight win over the Lithuanians). Weems scored 16 points and had three steals, two assists, and two rebounds in that game. Before that Weems scored 23 points on Galatasary and 15 on Real Madrid. Weems will face Dorsey's Barcelona on November 2nd. Maccabi are currently 6th in the EuroLeague standings and are leading the Israeli league after a 3-0 start.

- Linas Kleiza is still yet to be healthy enough to sign with a new team. He has been healthy enough to start up a new business endeavour, though. Last month, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he founded a car company called Baltic Arrow.