BOSTON -- Shane Larkin’s expectations playing internationally weren’t all that different than his days in college at Miami or during his stints in the NBA, the last of which was two years ago with the Boston Celtics.
He wants to compete; and in doing so, wins usually follow.
That was indeed the case for Larkin, who played with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes squad, which had its sights on being this year’s EuroLeague champion.
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But those dreams were dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which was at the heart of the EuroLeague cancelling the remainder of this season, one in which Larkin was the league’s top scorer and his team had the best overall record prior to the season prematurely ending.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Larkin said on the CelticsTalk Podcast. “We were in first place. We had a great season going on. So, I felt we had a great opportunity to win a championship. But at the end of the day, sometimes things happen like that with a bigger purpose. This virus came around and impacted people in so many negative ways. I just think right now, health is more important than chasing a championship. At the end of the day, I think it’s the right decision. Health is the most important thing and that’s the reason they canceled it, so it’s cool with me.”
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Larkin had an Instagram post recently that included his thoughts on the league resuming play while indicating that a “large majority” of players did not want to resume playing under the current status of the COVID-19 virus.
Knowing that would mean an abrupt and premature ending to this fairy tale of a season for him and his teammates, was a tough pill to swallow.
“We were all dying to get out there and play,” he said. “We’re all disappointed that we won’t have a chance to fight for a championship but we’re all good with the decision because health is the most important thing.”
Larkin, who was with the Celtics during the 2017-2018 season, became an international star this season.
He led Anadolu Efe in scoring with 22.2 points per game while connecting on 53.0 percent of his shots from the field, 50.9 percent from 3-point range and 90.3 percent from the free throw line.
Larkin’s numbers in Boston -- 4.3 points while appearing in 54 games -- weren’t nearly as good as they were overseas in large part because he was playing behind Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart.
He looks back on his time in Boston with fond memories; well, most of the time, anyway.
“I used to think about it (that season) a lot,” Larkin said. “Especially the way it ended for me; it was kind of unfortunate.”
Larkin’s season ended in Game 4 of Boston’s playoff series against Philadelphia when he suffered a left shoulder injury while trying to go underneath a Joel Embiid screen.
“I was done for the rest of the playoffs,” Larkin recalled. “So I always think about how I could have maneuvered that screen a little differently to try and help the team out. But it was an unbelievable run. I saw a lot of guys take their careers to another level in that series.”
The same can be said for Larkin with what he has done overseas.
His numbers this past season validate him as arguably the best player in the EuroLeague, which is widely considered the next-best professional basketball league in the world, behind the NBA.
Larkin will be a free agent this summer and is open to pretty much whatever comes his way be it in the NBA or picking up where he left off overseas.
“I don’t know when any of my free agency stuff will start,” Larkin said. “So, I’m sitting around, waiting for that to happen; stay in shape, keep my body right and see what happens. In this current state, nobody knows what’s going to happen anytime soon. So, I have to stay prepared for any opportunities that come across and see what happens."