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Zalgiris sniper K.C. Rivers visits The Crossover, presented by Endesa

JPodcast host Joe Arlauckas finds a kindred spirit in the 2015 champ
They lived in the same state, started their European careers in small Italian cities, won the EuroLeague with Real Madrid and later played in Greece. Those are just some of the things Zalgiris Kaunas swingman K.C. Rivers and The Crossover host Joe Arlauckas discovered they have in common during their lively conversation for the latest edition of the podcast brought to you by Endesa.

The conversation was recorded via telephone from Rivers's residence in California, where he traveled when the EuroLeague season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They opened on that topic with Rivers discussing his journey with his family from Kaunas and what life has been like for him at home.

Before long, the topic moved to Rivers's upbringing. His father passed away from a brain aneurysm when K.C. was just six years old. His uncle, Byron Dinkins, a former EuroLeague player and an opponent of Arlauckas, was the one who put a ball in K.C.'s hands and later helped groom him into a top prospect. In fact, he urged a young Rivers to learn from a promising Greek player whom Rivers would later compete against.

(28:27) "He brought home a tape of Diamantidis and, because Diamantidis is left-handed and he's a smooth lefty and I was left-handed, my uncle was like, 'I want you to watch this guy. I want you to watch how he plays. He's gonna be a star. Watch him,'" Rivers recalled. "So I used to watch tapes of Diamantidis and how he played."

Rivers played high-school basketball at the famed Oak Hill Academy. Despite a gruesome ankle injury, Clemson University offered him a scholarship, and he recovered to spend four years as one of the school's best players. After college, he started his professional career in Italy's second division in Latina, from which he shared the following experience:

(33:40) "First game, I'm out there trying to pass and score. Score [less], I should say. I was just passing to everybody. We were down like 25-8 in the first game, and my coach called a timeout. He comes and looks at me and he's like, 'Hey, I didn't sign you to pass the ball.' He's like, 'I don't care who's on you: score.' So that first game, I finished with 33, 34, because literally every time I touched it I was shooting it."

From that point on Rivers was virtually unstoppable until Benetton Treviso came calling and brought him in as a mid-season injury replacement. After three seasons in the EuroCup, Khimki Moscow Region gave him his first shot in the EuroLeague in 2012 and he has been a regular ever since, playing parts of six seasons for five clubs, including a season and a half with Real.

(44:20) "It was my best year because it's my greatest accomplishments," Rivers said of his first campaign in the Spanish capital. "Winning everything, winning the EuroLeague title. A lot of people back home in the States, they don't know, like the EuroLeague is the second-best league under the NBA. Second-to-none. Nobody can tell you different... However, when you watch regular season NBA games, sometimes there’s not much in it. When you come to Europe, every game counts”.

KC Rivers also spoke about his time in Panathinaikos - where he set the club record for three-pointers made with 71 in his first campaign there, why he stays away from social media, and his plans for the future, which may include "replacing" Arlauckas in the broadcast booth.

The Crossover debuted last season with such current stars as Vassilis Spanoulis and Kyle Hines, coaching greats like Pablo Laso and Zeljko Obradovic, and legends like Nikola Vujcic and Robertas Javtokas, among others. Recent guests include Coaches Xavi Pascual of Zenit St Petersburg and Ergin Ataman of Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Stratos Perperoglou of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade and Tyrese Rice of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.

The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is available on iTunesAudioboomSpotifyDeezerRadioPublicGoogle PodcastsTuneInStitcheriVooxCastBox and other platforms.


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