From the worst team in the history of the NBA to a two-time EuroLeague champion

EuroLeague Basketball
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

The professional career of Cory Higgins started in a peculiar way. His father Rod, former NBAer with a great career in Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors, gave him the chance to play for the Charlotte Bobcats.

His father was the president of the basketball operations for the Bobcats and when Nuggets waived Higgins, he gave him the chance to play.

He played 45 games with Charlotte averaging about 3.7 points per game on 34% field goal percentage and 20% from the three point line.

His first professional career experience was a “nightmare”. The Bobcats went to down to history as the team with the worst winning percentage(10.6%) on a shortened regular season, after a six month lockout, finishing on a 7-59 record.

Higgins was waived the next year and started to look on his options overseas. Cory was an iso-dependant scorer who was not so focused on the defensive end. The American took his chances on European basketball and changed the story of his career.

First of all, he went to Russia and played for  BC Triumph Lyubertsy averaging about 20 points on 48 Field Goal percentage and 37% from above the break.

The guard from Danville,California averaged 17.9 points per game and drove his team to success that year as the best scorer of the squad.

Photo: V.Mayorov

As a result, Triumph Lyubertsy was the finalist of the EuroChallenge that season. A third-tier European competition in which, the winner and the runner-up would compete on the Eurocup the next season.

Next stop for explosive guard, the Turkish Basketball League. Higgins had an effective impact on his team’s offensive play making a name for himself in the European basketball.

He played for Gaziantep in the Turkish League. On a mediocre season for his team, Higgins improved his game and proved that he was ready for the “next step”.

That next step was the European basketball “giant” Cska Moscow, who was monitoring the American from the first year of his career in Europe and made a move for him.

The ex-Charlotte guard became the first man coming from the bench of his team averaging about 21 minutes per game and playing an important role in coach’s Itoudis system.

Cska won the EuroLeague that year after two incredible “fights” with Lokomotiv Kuban and Fenerbahçe on the Final-four that took place in Berlin.

Initially, Higgins won on the biggest stage of European basketball and was vital in the success of his team, since he averaged 9.2 points per game on 50% field goal percentage and 54% on three point attempts.

Euroleague Basketball
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

After a period of two years of two consecutive defeats in Final-four’s semi finals, this season was a crucial one for him and his team.

So, Higgins took his game on another level being “instrumental” on both ends of the floor. He averaged a career high on multiple categories that include minutes and points per game among others.

In particular, Higgins averaged about 15 points per game on 49% in both field goal and three point percentage, while shooting about 90% from the free throw line.

Also, he played about 25 minutes per game(career high) and averaged 14.4 on index player performance rating.

Photo: abn-cbs.com

In addition, he played an all-important role in his team’s offense effectiveness (128.7 per 100 possession, per RealGM), since he averaged a career high usage rating percentage of 24.63 in this year’s EuroLeague,per RealGM.

On the Final-four that took place in Vitoria, Higgins was one of the best players of his team having a great impact on Cska’s victorious run.

Cory Higgins’s career had not started on a best “note” playing in a “bad” team which was unable to win, but after coming to Europe his winner mentality was shown.

That’s the least you can expect from a man, whose godfather is one of the greatest basketball players ever, Michael Jordan.

*Stats from Euroleague.com, RealGM.com

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