A Proud Journeyman Perseveres

Times Staff Writer

Call Rick Brunson a journeyman and he won’t mind.

He’s proud of it.

Undrafted out of Temple, the 6-foot-4 point guard and would-be Clipper has lasted seven seasons in the NBA, playing for five teams, including two stints each with the Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks.

“To me, this is more gratifying than if I’d been drafted,” he said. “This is my eighth year. I’ve never had a guaranteed contract -- ever. Played seven full years on non-guaranteeds, making the team.

“To me, that’s a greater achievement than somebody giving you a guarantee for three years and [your] sitting on the bench. I had to work for it.”


After what for Brunson, 32, was a typical summer -- “Call all 30 teams and hope one of them says, ‘Come in and try out’ ” -- he is one of four players with non-guaranteed contracts still on the Clipper roster. The others: Trajan Langdon, Terence Morris and Kaniel Dickens. Probably one, at most, will make the team.

None has come as far as Brunson, whose professional career also has included two stints in the Continental Basketball Assn. and a season playing in Australia.

Clipper Coach Mike Dunleavy, who with the Trail Blazers was Brunson’s first NBA coach, calls the left-hander “smart” and “tough,” a versatile guard whose lack of quickness “probably has kept him from being a major player.”

Perseverance has kept him in the NBA, kept him employed.

“You can’t really ever say no to me,” said Brunson, a husband and father of two, “because I’m going to keep knocking.” If the Clippers release him, he said, “It wouldn’t be the first time I’d ever been cut. And it won’t be the last.”


Fred Hoiberg, a long-range shooter the Clippers could use, turned down a better offer from the team last summer to re-sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I feel, in a game where there is not a lot of loyalty, that I owed the Timberwolves something to come back here,” Hoiberg told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Because they gave me a chance when nobody did.”


Family issues and a chance to stay in a winning program also were factors for Hoiberg, who re-upped for two years and $3.4 million.

“It’s not always about minutes,” he said. “I would rather win and not play as much than to be playing 25 minutes a night and not win.”


The Clippers did not practice Monday. They’ll play the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at Oakland and the Phoenix Suns on Thursday at Staples Center to close out the exhibition season.