Ryan Gomes hoping to silence the critics in his NBA return

AP Photo/Don Ryan

AP Photo/Don Ryan

Editor’s note: This article was written for, which covers local Connecticut sports and is run by yours truly. So check it out.

He’s already a Connecticut basketball legend, the source of remember-when stories and press clippings and this legendary rant from UConn head coach Jim Calhoun.

(Editor’s Note: Like most Calhoun masterpieces, it contains strong language). 

And now, Waterbury native Ryan Gomes is getting another chance in the NBA. After a year sabbatical  in Germany, Gomes signed a one-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder for 2013-14.

It’s a little bit of basketball justice–because his NBA career wasn’t supposed to end that way.

With him rotting on the bench in L.A., buried behind less-talented players and seemingly being held hostage by an inexplicably contemptuous head coach. Vinny Del Negro didn’t merely banish Ryan Gomes to the dog house–he took a shovel and buried him underneath it.

The former Wilby High School star played in just 32 games in 2012, and averaged just 13 minutes per contest. Gomes spent more time in sweats in his two years in L.A. than Richard Simmons did in the entire 1980s.

Gomes' career appeared to be on the rise in Minnesota in 2009. (AP Photo)

Gomes appeared to be a player on the rise in Minnesota in 2010. (AP Photo)

Before his arrival in Hollywood, Gomes appeared to be on his way towards a breakout season. He averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 boards in four productive years with Boston and Minnesota from 2006-10. When he signed with the Clippers for three years and $12 million in 2010, it was hailed as one of the better free agent deals of the summer.

But things went south when Del Negro soured on Gomes midway through the 2011 season. He couldn’t get on the floor, and the Clippers finally threw their arms up and amnestied him in 2012.

He spent last season playing for the Artland Dragons of the German Basketball Bundesliga.

But now, Gomes has the chance to prove that the Clippers–and the rest of the NBA—was wrong about him. He’s done this before.

In high school at Wilby, Gomes was considered overweight and undersized. Jim Calhoun wouldn’t take him at UConn–but he turned into an All-American at Providence.

Coming out of college, Gomes slid into the second round because NBA scouts didn’t think he was big enough to play the 4, or quick enough to play the 3.

Now, scouts think he’s washed up; his skills atrophied and his confidence gone.

But like Sweet Brown’s bronchitis, Gomes ain’t got time for that. He’s ready to play ball for one of the league’s legitimate championship contenders.

“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Gomes said at the Hartford Pro-Am tournament in Waterbury. “They have a good team with two All-Stars, two great players. Hopefully, I can come in there and do what I’m asked to do,” he said.

“I’m disappointed with what happened in Los Angeles, with the adversity I battled there. But I’m ready to show [Oklahoma City] that I am the player they think I am,” he said.

Gomes should have more a chance to play with the Thunder, who could use more rebounding help down low. He may earn decent minutes coming off the bench as an extra small/power forward. Either way, he’s thrilled to be playing for a team that has a chance to win the NBA title.

“Hopefully I can provide a spark and do what I do best…rebound, run the floor, and try to be a leader, ” he said.

“Hopefully, I can fill the void that they need.”

If he can, Gomes will prove to the NBA what he proved to college coaches, Jim Calhoun, and the NBA scouts who thought he’d fade into the basketball ether after leaving L.A.

Maybe he’ll even give Vinny Del Negro the chance to hold a ranting, raving press conference where he tries, through gratuitous f-bombs, to explain why Gomes was once again overlooked.

It’d be just another story to add to the legend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *