With a single, devastating shot, Ali Farokhmanesh became the face of the NCAA basketball tournament in 2010.
He nailed the 3-pointer that propelled the ninth-seeded Northern Iowa Panthers to a major upset victory over the tournament favorite, Kansas Jayhawks. It also put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
After the season ended, Farokhmanesh was passed over in the NBA draft and instead went to play professionally in Europe. He spoke with Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin about life after March Madness, and why he feels he’s still living out a dream.
On waiting for an offer
“Your agent’s telling you that, ‘Oh, you’ll be fine,’ and the months are passing and then your mom’s like — every other day my mom was asking, ‘So, any news? Any news? Any news?’ And every day it was nothing, nothing. I still had a degree in finance. I had something to fall back on in case basketball didn’t pan out. But, luckily enough, all those workouts in the summer paid off, and I got a job offer Aug. 10 probably. And I was on the plane 10 days later flying out to Switzerland on my own.”
On the expectations of American players in Europe
“When you’re an American, you’re getting paid a little more, but also you’re expected to score, to kind of lead the team. You’re playing between 30 [and] 35 minutes a game, somewhere in there, and you have to produce or else there’s 25, 35 people waiting back home ready to take your job.”
On dreams of the NBA
I kind of understood that for an NBA team, they weren’t going to really take a chance on a 5’11″ white guy that plays the two guard. So, it wasn’t ideal for me to be in the NBA at the time, but now I’m playing in Europe. I get to see things. My first year I went to Rome and visited that. I’ve seen Prague. I’ve seen a lot of great things and all the while I’m still playing basketball, and I’m getting paid to do it, so I can’t really complain at all about that. Yeah, the NBA would be the ultimate goal, but I’m still living out a dream, I guess.