Even at 34, Darius Songaila is still chasing his NBA dream. However, his dream does not involve regaining fame, leading a celebrity lifestyle or earning a lot of money. For Songaila, it’s all about being closer to his six-year-old daughter Meile, who is living with the player's ex-wife Jackie.
With NBA stuck in lockout mode last season, the Lithuanian veteran decided to head back to Europe and signed a lucrative one-year deal with Turkish side Galatasaray, but finished the season in Spain after not living up to expectations in Istanbul.
NBA – the top priority
After being one of the best players for Lithuania in the Olympic Games in London, where he averaged 11 points and 3.5 rebounds per game and moved to the eight spot in the national team’s all-Time scoring list with 612 points, the power forward is doing his best to position himself for a comeback to the NBA.
“I don’t want to spend the whole year somewhere in Europe far away from my daughter. It would be much better if I could live in the States, where I could visit her without too much effort,” the player told lrytas.lt.
Songaila decided to pass up on better offers from around Europe and agreed to a short-term contract with BC Donetsk in Ukraine.
“The short-term contract was my idea. I didn’t want to just sit at home, because NBA training camps start only in the end of September, while the actual season doesn’t begin until November. We signed a contract that would allow me to leave,” said Songaila.
Ready to adjust
The Lithuanian player, who has played for the Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers during the 8 years in the league, fully understands that he can’t expect a big role, but that does not seem to the Wake Forest alumni.
“My role will probably be different than before. There are plenty of veterans out there, whose main goals are to help the team in practices, work with the young players and to still be able to show some skills on the court if needed. That’s how I’d imagine my comeback,” said Songaila.
“There’s been some interest, but that is no use to me. It is only serious if there’s a contract offer on the table.”
It has been quite an eventful year for the experienced player, who not only announced retirement from international basketball after the Olympics, but also went through a divorce with his ex-wife Jackie earlier in the year.
However, the toughest part is living away from his daughter: “There’s nothing I love more than my daughter. She brings out feelings I’ve never felt for anyone else.”
Songaila is hoping to get his last chance for a run in the NBA, but if it doesn’t happen, he’s hoping to stay with Euroleague qualifying round participants BC Donetsk for the whole season.
“Living in the States would be ideal, but I still want to play. Europe is not a bad option at the end of the day either,” Songaila said.
The quotes used are from lrytas.lt interview with Darius Songaila by Lina Motužytė, published on August 31st, 2012.