Jawai hopes Perth Wildcats move will bring better luck
AUSTRALIAN centre Nathan Jawai hopes a change of scenery will bring a change of fortunes this season after a cruel run of bad luck.
After several seasons in the NBA and Europe, the 28-year-old has signed with the Perth Wildcats, one of a host of big names returning to the NBL for the 2015-16 competition.
Jawai, who grew up in Cairns and rose to prominence with a breakout season in the NBL for the Taipans in 2007-08, was taken at pick 41 overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers, before before traded to Toronto.
That was where his misfortune started.
Before he had even suited up for the Raptors, Jawai was diagnosed with a cardiac abnormality that showed up in a routine test, but he was eventually cleared to play a couple of months later without needing surgery.
He ended up playing one season for Toronto and another for the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading to Europe in 2010 where he lined up for Partizan Belgrade.
Stints followed in Russia and Spain, before he linked with Turkish club Galatasaray where trouble again struck. In October 2013 he sustained serious trauma to his neck and back after an incident in a game, as well as temporarily losing sight in one eye.
More frustration was to come, however, Jawai eventually leaving to play in Spain again after Galatasaray allegedly refused to pay him.
"It's been very frustrating and not very professional," he told APN.
"I took pay cuts (to stay for a second season). My agent is still looking after it and I'm hoping that money will still come through.
"That's another reason why I've come back to Australia."
Not only is Jawai looking to make his mark in the NBL, he also played a key role for the Boomers in the recent Oceania Championship, where victory over New Zealand saw the team qualify for next year's Rio Olympics.
He will form part of a formidable roster at the Wildcats who have also re-signed star American guard Jermaine Beal and 2014 leading scorer for the Florida Gators, Casey Prather.
"It's exciting the talent we've got here and we feel we can do something special," Jawai said.
"Jermaine and Casey in particular are real talents."
With plans to return to Europe after the NBL season, Jawai admitted he needed to drop a few kilos, but said he wanted to "bring my physical game and get back to being the old me".
Hopefully that will include a run of good luck, and maybe even an NBL title.