When E'Twaun Moore was drafted 55th overall by the Boston Celtics last June, his native East Chicago beamed with pride and the region cheered.
It was a lifelong dream come true. The jubilant Moore was walking on air.
And then, a few days later, the NBA went on strike.
"It's frustrating but I can't really control it so I've got to keep a positive attitude and make the best of it," said the former Purdue star.
Players can't use team facilities or talk to their coaches, trainers and medical personnel during the work stoppage. They have no income or insurance.
Moore had been working out daily in Indianapolis but after meeting with his Chicago-based agent, Mark Bartelstein, decided to sharpen his game and prove he could handle the rigors of pro ball by going overseas.
The 6-foot-4 guard leaves in two weeks after signing to play for Benetton in Treviso, Italy.
"It'll definitely help my game instead of sitting out and going to the gym on my own," said Moore, who has spoken to former teammate JaJuan Johnson, also with Boston, but doesn't know his plans.
"They've got our rights. Whenever they want us, we got to report with them. But no one can sign until (the strike) is settled."
The NBA strike in 1998-99 lasted 204 days and 464 games were lost. Moore said there are "rumblings" this lockout could linger until February.
Regardless, it's been a storybook year for the No. 3 career scorer in Purdue history.
"Getting drafted by the Celtics was a huge step for me in going from college to the pros. I'm still trying to soak it all in," Moore said. "But I still feel I'm an underdog and have got to prove myself at this next level."
European player agent Dave Maravilla, a 1982 Lake Central grad, recently returned from the NBA Euro Camp in Treviso. He said Benetton will be a good fit for Moore even though it has experienced hard times, financially, and has eliminated the million-dollar contracts it once handed out like candy.
"It's still a good job. It's still Benetton. I think it'll be great for him," Maravilla said. "He's going to experience European basketball at its best.
"More important for E'Twaun, he's got a chance to really step in and be an impact player. They'll be counting on him to contribute."
Sienna, Milano and Rome are the premier Italian teams with Benetton in the same conversation.
"Without a doubt, E'Twaun's going to have to bring his 'A' game to compete over there," Maravilla said. "He'll be challenged every game, every day in practice."