Rodrigue Beaubois, Efes: 'Everything went so fast'

Dec 08, 2020 by Igor Petrinovic, Print
Rodrigue Beaubois, Efes: 'Everything went so fast'

Turkish Airlines EuroLeague players come from many places around the globe and most have been faced with high odds and forced to overcome many obstacles in their basketball journeys. Count Anadolu Efes Istanbul guard Rodrigue Beaubois among them.

If it seems as though the 32-year-old scorer has been around for a long time, that's because he has. Beaubois has a dozen professional seasons under his belt, mostly at the elite level, including four in the NBA and now his sixth in the EuroLeague. The way Beaubois even got into basketball and later got his opportunity to play professional basketball is, at the least, improbable.

He was born and raised in Pointe-a-Pitre, the largest city in Guadeloupe, a French-governed archipelago in the Caribbean. Beaubois had a lot of energy as a kid and loved watching and playing soccer with his friends in the neighborhood. Soccer is the favorite sport on his island, so his mom found him a club to go and practice. But the 7-year Rodrigue saw something on TV that ended up changing his life.

"Maybe a week before I was supposed to start practicing soccer, I saw an NBA game on TV," Beaubois remembered. "It was my first time seeing basketball on TV."

"By watching basketball I started to be interested, and then by trying it, I loved it."

Though he does not remember which teams were involved, Beaubois said he liked it right away. Coincidentally, a day or two later, his neighbor dropped by to ask if he was interested in trying to play basketball.

"He started a club for young kids," Beaubois said. "I was seven at the time and he asked me if I wanted to try. I tried it and I loved it. So ever since, I've been playing basketball."

That coincidence prevented the young Beaubois from starting one sport and led him to try another. It did not take long for him to fall in love with basketball: "By watching basketball I started to be interested, and then by trying it, I loved it," he said.

Beaubois learned the basics among his peers who never played, just like it was an initiation for him, too. In the coming years, he started competing, but for an entire decade, it was just playing youth leagues at home, where the competition was not all that great.

What Guadeloupe always had was talent and there is plenty of proof for it with several former EuroLeague players including Mickael Pietrus, Mickael Gelabale, Florent Pietrus and Jerome Moiso – the last three of whom all won the EuroCup - and current Boulogne Metropolitans 92 guard Davide Michineau, who all were either born or grew up there. That is pretty impressive for an island with a population of less than 400,000.

"I am very proud that an island as small as Guadeloupe had this luxury," Beaubois beamed. "For an island that small, that's pretty amazing and pretty impressive. We had a lot of athletes from this little island that were able to become professionals, not only in basketball. But basketball is just one example."

However, being out of sight in a place not famous for basketball does make it very difficult to succeed. Beaubois was not even noticed until 2005 when he was 17 years old, and thanks to a basketball camp Mickael Pietrus organized on his home island.

"I think that one was the first edition of his camp and that's when pretty much everything started for me to be known a little bit more outside of Guadalupe," Beaubois explained.

His coach made some contacts with Cholet Basket in France. Beaubois said the club sent a person, who was on his way to French Guiana, to stop by Guadeloupe and see him play. They liked what they saw, but there was still some convincing for the then-17-year-old to do – at home.

"In Guadalupe, I was practicing two, maybe three times a week maximum."

"I had to convince my parents because they wanted me to graduate from high school before doing anything. My parents were not so convinced that it was going to work out with sports", Beaubois smiled. After all, France was 6,700 kilometers away from home. "It was tough, but finally they accepted it."

When he arrived and joined Cholet's youth team is when the real shock struck:

"When I got there I was impressed by the level. It was guys 15 to 18 years old and everybody was already so strong. I was never strong, I am still not strong", Beaubois said. "Then it got even worse. I was very skinny, so when I first got there and I saw how physical everybody was, I was thinking: 'wow, how am I going to do this?'

"Even practicing. In Guadalupe, I was practicing two, maybe three times a week maximum. And I got to Cholet and it was practice every day, especially in the preseason when it was twice a day, and my body gave up. So I had injury after injury. The first three or four months I was injured… Slowly but surely I get used to it. My body get used to it and I was finally able to compete and play at that level."

He spent four years with Cholet, from 2005 to 2009, and his talent surfaced quickly. Beaubois could shoot, he had blazing speed and athleticism: the same traits he still possesses today. He played the first two years with the youth teams and then got his first real chances in the French League his third year there, before grabbing his opportunity in the 2008-09 campaign.

Averaging 10.0 points as he was turning 21 years of age in the French League, now suddenly all eyes were on him. After one full professional season, he was already drafted and in the NBA.

"Today I see how that was insane, it was pretty crazy", he said. "I left Guadalupe at 17, my fourth year with Cholet was my first full professional season. I played, and boom, I got drafted. I was happy, obviously extremely happy, but shocked. I was shocked and surprised that everything went so fast."

Beaubois's four-year NBA career with Dallas was plagued by injuries.

"Clearly, my body wasn't ready", Beaubois said his jump to the NBA, only four years removed from playing in Guadeloupe. "I had a lot of unlucky injuries, but the experience was good."

There were many positives. He showcased a scoring ability that earned him the nickname "Roddy Buckets". He helped the team win the title in 2011 and gained experience – on and off the court – that helped him become a better player. Beaubois sounded like he would not change that experience for anything.

"I was in Dallas with a lot of great guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. It was amazing to be part of winning the title in 2011, and see players that that had such big careers like Dirk, Kidd or Shawn Marion, get together and make sacrifices to find a way to win the championship. And it was great to be part of it."

"When you get so close to a title, the only thing left - is to win it."

Beaubois returned to Europe in 2014 and made his EuroLeague debut in the 2015-16 season with Strasbourg, which he helped reach the 2016 EuroCup Finals. After two seasons with Baskonia, Beaubois joined Efes in 2018.

As a cornerstone piece, Beaubois has used his title-winning experiences to help the club turn into a powerhouse and the EuroLeague contender that it is today. And Beaubois, just like the entire Efes organization, embraced the challenges and high expectations that followed the team after reaching the 2019 EuroLeague championship game.

"People know who we are. It's extremely hard, but we want more. When you get so close to a title, the only thing left - is to win it."