Patrick Beverley’s belief fuels 11-year run, from Houston to Bulls

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Beverley’s belief fuels career, from Houston to Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

HOUSTON — Saturday night will mark Patrick Beverley’s 579th career NBA game, coming in his 11th season and in the city and against the Houston Rockets franchise that gave him his first opportunity.

“They took a chance on me,” Beverley said.

In January 2013, Beverley had just taken a nine-hour flight for a road game with his Spartak St. Petersburg team in Russia when he got the call that his lifelong dream was about to become reality. So of course, Beverley hopped another long flight to the United States.

“I was so excited for my first NBA practice that I barely slept,” Beverley said.

Beverley made his NBA debut for the Rockets on Jan. 15, 2013. Did he think he’d be sitting in a University of Houston gym just over 10 years later on Friday, following an off-day practice with his fifth team in the Chicago Bulls?

“Absolutely,” Beverley said. “I knew I was going to be in the NBA since I was a kid. I just didn’t know how to get there.”

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This isn’t revisionist history. In a January 2013 interview with the Chicago Tribune days before his NBA debut, Beverley made clear all he needed was a shot.

“I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said then.

It’s this kind of single-minded belief that defines Beverley as much as his aggressive defense or chatterbox ways. Billy Donovan had seen it from the opposing sideline over the years, first from shared SEC battles when Donovan coached at Florida and Beverley played at Arkansas and then in playoff battles between the Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I have great respect for guys that have this, like, unwavering belief,’’ Donovan said. “He’s got that. There’s an edge and a competitiveness to him and a belief in how he feels he can impact the team. I think he’s really good verbally. He’s got a lot of experience. Even when he’s out of the game, you see him talking to Ayo [Dosunmu] on who he’s guarding, what he needs to be ready for.’’

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Beverley always will hold special affinity for the Rockets and Houston, where his mother still lives. The franchise appeared in five straight postseasons during his tenure, including a trip to the 2015 Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors.

“Ton of winning,” Beverley said. “We had the city lit.”

Beverley rattles off a list of memories, including the time Rockets coach Kevin McHale called him before Game 2 of a first-round series against the Thunder in the 2013 playoffs and told him he’d be starting.

“It was all she wrote after that,” Beverley said.

The Rockets also faced the Thunder in a 2017 first-round matchup in which Beverley averaged 11.6 points and 1.8 steals to help send Donovan and Russell Westbrook home.

“Let’s just call it even because he beat the (expletive) out of me in college,” Beverley said, laughing, of Donovan. “2007 SEC championship. He beat the (expletive) out of us.”

Donovan knows all about Beverley’s competitiveness.

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“He loves the physicality and the competition,’’ Donovan said. “With where we’re at in the season, for him personally, he thrives in that, the adversity, the discomfort, the struggle because I think probably for most of his life he’s had to.

‘‘Considering where he’s gotten to in his career, it probably hasn’t always come easy when you look at a guy that had to go overseas for a few years, then get back, establish himself. It’s been an uphill struggle, so I think he sees the benefit of adversity.’’

It’s part of why Beverley, who will be an unrestricted free agent again this offseason, has no plans on stopping. He has plans to split his offseason training between Los Angeles and Italy, with a brief stop in his beloved Chicago.

“Mind is strong. Body feels good. I feel great,” Beverley said. “I’ll play until my body tells me to stop. I’m very fortunate. And it all started here.”

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