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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Julius Hodge's basketball career in Australia comes to an end in bizarre fashion

Julius Hodge Quits Adelaide 36ers

After a stellar career at State and four arduous years trying to get back into the NBA after a shooting incident in 2005, Julius Hodge, on the advice of his agent, has asked to be released from his contract with the Adelaide 36ers of the NBL.

The ongoing rift between Hodge and his team stems over a payment issue. Hodge claims the 36ers are behind on their payments...the 36ers claim they took Hodge to the bank to prove that the funds were there:

"I met with Julius yesterday and we went through any concerns he had," said 36ers owner Mal Hemmerling. "We shook hands and it was all resolved.

"We then physically took him to the bank so he could see he'd been paid til the end of the season.

"We expected him to front (last night) after the handshake with me and our agreement."

Instead Hodge went to ground, refusing to answer phone calls as the club waited to see what had occurred.

Hodge was advised by his agent not to play.

This was the final straw in a rift that seems to have been growing over time between Hodge and his teammates and coaches. The video at the AdelaideNow link above has some particularly scathing comments about Hodge, his work ethic and the way he's carried himself as a teammate of late.

His play on the court hasn't been in question. He dropped 31 points and pulled down eight rebounds in a 109-91 victory to earn NBL Player of the Week just two short weeks ago. In true Hodge fashion, he was filling up nearly every column on the stat sheet, averaging 25.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game through the end of 2008.

For him to walk away, after playing so well, seems so out of character for Hodge, a player most State fans will recall being one of the most ardent defenders of Herb Sendek when times were tough. He may have been one of the more hated Pack player by other ACC teams and their fans, but it was his akin to the hatred folks have of Tyler Hansbrough--you hate him because he's good and crushes your team on the court, but you respect the way he gets after it and would love to have him on your own team.

I can't help thinking there's more to this story than just what we've heard from the 36ers camp. But Hodge isn't talking, yet, and until he does it'll just be their side of the story out in the press.

I don't think many folks, State fans included, thought Hodge would be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. But to see the path his pro career has taken thus far--with this being the most bizarre chapter of them all--is saddening and puzzling.

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