As a well-known journeyman across the world, Duke has left imprints on various countries:  Ukraine, Austria, Mexico, Japan, Uruguay, Macedonia, Qatar, Bahrain, Venezuela, Philippines and now Indonesia, a nation he calls his second home. Some of you may not know, but Duke was, in fact, both an All-American in the class of 2006 and a top-25 prospect coming out of high school, which led him to the University of Tennessee. Growing up as a kid with huge basketball potential, his mother Madam Louise and brother Terrence, have been nothing but supportive, allowing him to continue shining during his professional career.

There’s a player who watched him grow up and play every single game, a player-God to him: the great Allen Iverson. Interestingly, Duke formed a special bond with A.I while he attended Bethel High School (A.I went to the same high school), whereby Iverson coached and guided Duke as a mentor. For Duke, Iverson is not only one of the best who ever played the game, but also a big brother who he can learn from on and off the court.

In comparing the ABL to other leagues that he has played in before, Duke pointed out that the quota of two World Imports makes the regional league more competitive, and players get to travel more than any other domestic league, such as the PBA, where players barely leave Manila. At the same time, Duke appreciates the opportunity to be back in Asia again, where he finds the fans and basketball here are so much more passionate. According to him, the collective efforts of culture and fans make Asia generally a hot spot for many American professional players to play in.

PHOTO CREDIT: PBA IMAGES

No stranger to the frequent and heavy road trips of the ABL, he is still excited about every aspect of it despite his recent injury. As he describes, each country in the league represents their own unique individuals and culture. The food could be very much different from country to country, and this is one of the beauties of the ABL; a priceless experience for most overseas players here.

The CLS Knights welcomed Duke with open arms since the ending of last season’s IBL competition, as club management treated him with love and respect, helping make his transition to the local scene so much easier. Additionally, the fans from Surabaya have been showing him a lot of support, enough so, that Duke can proudly call Surabaya a home away from home. Despite the team adding a few new recruits during the off season, all of the locals train and play together as one team with a type of bonding that has been great between imports and locals alike. He even used their first home game as a perfect example of conveying just how good their locals really are.

PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS GRAYTHEN // GETTY IMAGES

Many long-term ABL fans may know that Duke played together with the Knights’ other world import Brian Williams in college, and that they’ve known each other for more than 10 years, so the chemistry between the two on the court is something that they would consider unbreakable. Duke even sees Williams as a real brother, the blood-brother-type where they vow to have each other’s backs, regardless of the circumstance.

On the other hand, Crews only knew about Knights heritage-import Freddie Goldstein through some video clips from the ABL and TBL while he was scouting for heritage imports with his coaches. As soon as Freddie signed with the team, Duke took care of him as a little brother, acknowledging Freddie as a great basketball player, but more importantly, a great person. With the already established chemistry between himself and Williams, along with the addition of the flashy Goldstein, fans can expect CLS Knights Indonesia to be a tough team in the ABL.

As far as the season goes, Duke believes that every match against every team in the league will be harder than ever, especially the defending champions, Hong Kong Eastern. However, he remains optimistic that his team can beat anyone in the league. It’s an us versus them mentality.

After picking up a tough injury during his season debut against the Formosa Dreamers, he remains positive about the incident, knowing it’s just an ugly part of the game. He promises to stay disciplined as usual, attending physiotherapy sessions for a speedier recovery than initially expected, and to “never cheat the process.” While off the court, Crews pledges to do anything possible to help the team, such as attending film sessions with coaches, motivating young locals to train and pushing themselves harder just to name a few..

Perhaps Duke will not be able to display his on-court fighter’s mentality temporarily, but he will act as a leader now, more than ever, by guiding and leading the team to their ultimate objective, the ABL Championship. He says the team has been showing him tremendous amounts of support since day one, especially the past few days when he first sustained the injuring, so he will return those favors and love to the team, and to the city of Surabaya.

PHOTO CREDIT: ONVISA THEWPHAINGARM // ASEAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

It’s good to know that Duke chooses to remain positive in light of what has happened, turning an unfortunate setback into good energy towards the team. It’s surely an honor for CLS Knights Indonesia to have a player like him as their leader, and certainly as a fighter, back to the ABL.

We can’t wait for you to be back on the court Duke! #IStandWithMyKnights #TrustTheProcess

Fun Fact: Freddie Goldstein is just 4’11, according to Duke Crews.