Alaska's Trajan Langdon was never one to stand still -- on the basketball court or in life. So it’s no surprise that he’s going back to work just a year after retiring.
The only difference is he’s trading in his Jordans for a Sharpie.
Langdon, 36, has been hired as the Eastern Regional Pro Personnel Scout for the San Antonio Spurs, one of the top professional sports franchises in America and winners of four NBA championships since 1999. Otherwise known as an advance scout, Langdon’s job will be to size up the Spurs’ upcoming opponents. He will travel around the East Coast to watch games, reporting back to Spurs general manager R.C. Buford.
As a player, the former East High and Duke star who became the first Alaskan selected in the first round of the NBA draft was the quintessential teammate. Dubbed the “Alaskan Assassin,” Langdon seemed to always take the right shot, make the right pass and play hard-nosed defense. Those are the same winning principles preached by the Spurs.
“It’s interesting when you step back and look what they do,” he said. “I spent a week down there and they have a high level of integrity. They work hard. (You hear) a lot about team and respect. I’m very fortunate to be there, and I think they are the kind of people I have always wanted to work with. It’s a very good fit.”
Langdon was a champion his entire playing career – with the T-birds at East High, at Duke and throughout his international career in Italy, Turkey and Russia.
Now he works for a Spurs team synonymous with winning.
Scouting for San Antonio should prove to be a much different experience than his playing days with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1999 to 2002. Those were the pre-LeBron Cavs that averaged 51 losses a season.
Langdon’s signature shot was his jumper, but his best move was leaving the NBA for the Euroleague. It was there he became a champion again, winning eight titles in nine years. He even won his last game.
“The European League is great, but everybody knows that the best basketball league in the world is in the NBA,” he said. “It’s been cool (being back).”
He quickly realized that no matter how far he got away from the NBA, he was still on the map of basketball. He was still Trajan Langdon, the high school and college All-American and former NBA lottery pick.
“I wasn’t forgotten,” he said.
Langdon had always known he would stay involved in the game; the only question was in what capacity. Initially he thought about coaching but then ruled it out because of the extreme time commitment.
“You immerse yourself right back into the game,” he said.
The most viable option was scouting, a position that keeps him involved at a high level but also provides a flexible schedule that allows him to remain in his Virginia home with his wife and two kids.
“I’ll be analyzing talent and making assessments one way or another on how I feel, … what they do, and hopefully help others in the organization make decisions,” Langdon said.
Langdon may end up scouting fellow Alaskans Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat and Carlos Boozer of the Chicago Bulls at some point; both play in the Eastern Conference.
Don’t expect him to play favorites, though.
“Even if you like a player, you still have to be objective,” Langdon said.
Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, blogs on the accomplishments of Alaska athletes for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Used with permission.