Alston Hoping Teams Understand Why He Disappeared
Alston, 33, knows how badly he blundered when he abruptly disappeared from the Miami Heat last spring, leaving behind nothing but a vague text message to explain his actions.
After 10 days of not hearing anything else from him -- and failing to return any phone messages left for him -- the Heat suspended Alston March 6 for the rest of the season.
"Looking back, I probably would do the same thing again. I don't regret leaving the team, but I do regret not communicating better what was happening. For that I was sorry,'' Alston told FanHouse Friday from his home in the New York area. "I had to leave.''
Alston left the Heat suddenly to be at the side of twin sister Racine Alston, whose personal depression in Houston had her contemplating, and talking about, suicide. It shook up Alston to the point where he shut out everyone -- including his mystified employer -- but his family.
"I just wasn't going to take the chance of going back and forth to Houston worrying about her,'' he said. "It was not something I could compromise, then worry about what might happen.''
Alston has been part of his sister's recovery the last four months, joining her for numerous counseling sessions, giving her the kind of support she needed to get well again. He has spent this summer traveling back and forth from Houston, where she lives, to New York, where his daughter lives.
Although he understands that teams might be reluctant to sign him now as a unrestricted free agent, he is determined to play at least one more NBA season. After 11 years in the league, he doesn't want to be remembered only as the guy who went AWOL.
"I don't expect everyone to understand what happened, but it only takes one team to want you. And I can still play. I've kept myself in great shape, and I can serve about any role I'm asked,'' he said.
Alston started 25 games for the Heat last season after he received the buyout he wanted from New Jersey. It was just before he disappeared, though, that he was replaced in the starting lineup by Carlos Arroyo, which led to the speculation over his departure. With Mario Chalmers also expected to get the backup minutes, Alston was being benched in the midst of the playoff chase, which didn't help his disposition, either.
"People said a lot of things then, but it (his disappearance) was 99 percent family-related,'' he said. "It was just something that couldn't be helped.''
Alston averaged 6.6 points and 2.9 assists in 26 minutes for the Heat in those 25 games, sharing the backcourt with Dwyane Wade. It was his second stint with the Heat.
The previous season in Orlando, he replaced the injured Jameer Nelson, and guided the Magic to the 2008 NBA Finals under Coach Stan Van Gundy, who had coached him previously in Miami.
"Stan is like an uncle to me,'' Alston said. "I could play for him again, but there are a lot of coaches I could play for. I think they like my unselfishness with the ball.''
The Magic traded Alston to New Jersey after losing in the Finals as part of the package that brought Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to Orlando. He had gone from the best team in the East to the worst, and it wasn't a happy time for him.
"I've still got some good basketball left in me,'' he said. "And my sister has gotten better. Thanks for asking. I'll have to wait now until some of the big free agents sign, but I think I'll be back in the league somewhere next season. But even if not, my family is doing well.''