Center Tarik Black has been one of the top performers for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in his first season in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. At the start of the summer, leaving his native United States was not even on Black's radar. However, now settled in on and off the court, Black feels his horizons have expanded from the move and he and his family are richer from the experience. Black has agreed to periodically share his feelings during his first season with Maccabi with fans on EuroLeague.net. Here is the first post from the Tarik Black blog.
Sitting in our West Hollywood home's kitchen, my wife Kennedy and I were uncertain of our future. With our soon-to-be 1-year-old son napping in his room and our cousin's life in the balance, we anxiously spoke with my agent Micheal Lelchitski of Sports International Group about the options we had for playing this season. The NBA door shut more and more as the summer progressed with team after team presenting opportunities to earn a spot on the roster. Each phone call began with hopes of stability, but ended with despairing odds of that happening.
At that point, we began entertaining opportunities to play outside of the United States. We vetted the cities in the various countries that were showing interest. Honestly, the city life meant more than the basketball opportunity for us. Why you ask? Because, in the beginning, I didn't mention that my wife and son were coming wherever I went, our cousin is our live-in nanny who travels with us, and our chef was looking forward to taking the journey and moving wherever we moved. With that many people who are not reliant only upon basketball as a means to move, but in need of security, well-being, and lifestyle to be comforted, the only concerns with basketball were: if it pays well and being sure I was getting ample playing time. The rest of the criteria that needed to be met aligned with my family's comfort and ability to transition to our city of choice.
"He brought up playing in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv... It caught my ear right away."
Rewinding back to the kitchen, we were on the phone with our agent and he brought up playing in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Kennedy and my trainer, Dan Connelly from Be More Basketball, weren't too enthralled by that idea, but it caught my ear right away. It was not my best offer in terms of finances, but after hearing about Tel Aviv and researching the club, I felt it was the best option considering all the factors that went into the decision. A week or so went by, and the NBA door had settled at being wedged open where it was and other negotiations were not picking up much traction, so I reiterated how intrigued I was by the idea of Tel Aviv. It ﬁt every category we were looking to check off to decide which situation was best.
With my agent's help, we all agreed that Tel Aviv was best and we finalized the deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv. It was such a relief and pressure release. I had been fasting on behalf of receiving this deal. I went the whole summer vegetarian in honor to pray over our next chapter. So how did I celebrate? With steaks and seafood. That wasn't the best idea, if you know what I mean.
Within a week Kennedy and I were on a ﬂight to Tel Aviv. We signed pretty late and needed to head over right away for physicals and to get situated. Upon our arrival, full of anxiety and excitement, we encountered immense peace as we traveled to the arena and to our hotel. We were expecting to feel many different emotions and have to calibrate everything, but it felt as though it was where we were meant to be. Kennedy, being someone on high alert to dangers around her, said she felt very safe and at peace. That was my greatest concern and I was so relieved that she felt comfortable. I was worried about how my family would transition above anything else, and when she told me that I was set free.
We got acclimated with the city relatively quickly. It didn't take us much time before we were driving around trying different restaurants and venturing into the city. Then I began practicing with the team once I cleared physicals and was able to adjust to the time difference. I was blown away with how much talent we had and enthused about being able to work with the guys and seeing how great we could actually be. A few weeks after the preseason, our chef decided to stay home, but my family made the transition and we settled into our apartment. Now the move was complete!
"It took a lot for us to come to terms with living abroad, but because of that decision I have been expanded beyond borders; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually."
With our transition elaborated in this post, my purpose was to provide context for this main point: We love living abroad! The journey enriched the destination. Since being out of America, our perspectives shifted so much. It's been three months or so of being in this new chapter and it has been such a blessing. America has a way of boxing our minds in. We don't truly understand what's out there and appreciate the fact that there is a lot to respect about different nations. My family and I were stuck on being in America and we built up so much anxiety and nervousness. In the end, I wouldn't change a thing. I have grown through this transition and am able to think further now. I have made great friends and doors have been opened for me to expand my brand and business portfolio internationally.
It took a lot for us to come to terms with living abroad, but because of that decision I have been expanded beyond borders; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My foundation (Tarik Black Foundation) has the chance to further its reach to provide mentorship and aid the next generation. The foundation's work is my life journey and with this move, we may continue to push our vision and mission of building ethnic and socioeconomic bridges.
Lastly, this is the story of a lifetime for my family. How many families from the US have lived in another country; especially from humble beginnings? My son is at the age that he is learning to speak so he may learn another language in his time here. Our lives are being ﬁlled with stories and experiences that nourish generations. This kid from Memphis is blessed beyond measure.