Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NBA Journeyman, Steve Burtt, 34, Banned in Greece, Now Stars in Italy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NBA Journeyman, Steve Burtt, 34, Banned in Greece, Now Stars in Italy

Article excerpt

Steve Burtt is a basketball mercenary, a free-agent-for-life bouncing from league to league in search of the highest bidder.

The 34-year-old's travels have taken him on a ride that peaked with the NBA playoffs and hit bottom with a lifetime drug ban from the Greek League.

His latest stop, with Genertel Trieste of the Italian League, is one of the highlights. He's playing a full 40 minutes per game and averaging a league-high 35.1 points at the season's halfway mark. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound shooting guard is one of a number of American players who have found work overseas, many after NBA careers dried up. Some eventually return to the United States, like Dominique Wilkins, who's now with the San Antonio Spurs after leading Panathinaikos Athens to the European championship last year. "If I have to jump around, it's what I have to do," the soft-spoken Burtt said in an interview in Rome. There, Burtt scored 37 points against Telemarket Roma in a 102-94 Trieste loss. "He's just so hard to guard," Roma coach Attilio Caja said. "He shoots the 3-pointer, plays well one-on-one and is a good passer if you double-team him." However, Burtt's skills never secured him a lasting place in the NBA. "Some guys are blessed with talent and are in the right place at the right time. So - boom! - you get a four-year contract in the NBA," he said. "That gives you more stability. At least you know where you stand. I haven't had that." What he has had is a chance to see the world as a self-described "scorer-for-hire." Burtt's resume resembles alphabet soup - the NBA, USBL and CBA, plus leagues in Israel, France, Philippines and Greece. This is his third year in Italy; he was with Trieste, a city 75 miles east of Venice, in 1994 and with second-division Venezia in 1995. A second-round draft pick out of Iona in 1984 by Golden State, Burtt spent one injury-shortened season with the Warriors. He also was with the Clippers, Suns and Bullets. In 1992, Phoenix plucked him out of the CBA as late-season insurance on the way to the playoffs. Burtt, a native of New York, got a chance to start when Kevin Johnson was injured. "It was where I wanted to be. I remember everything so well because it was a long road back" to the NBA, Burtt said. …

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