I’ve always liked unorthodox players — guys who don’t “pass the eye test,” yet can flat out ball when it counts. So it’s safe to say I’m a huge fan of Brazil’s Alex Garcia.
Listed at 6’4” and 225 pounds (and likely a bit shorter and stouter), Garcia is well past his prime and doesn’t have a true position on the floor, but simply finds ways to help his team win.
A little over a decade ago, Garcia was a lock down defender and an explosive high-flyer who got to the hoop off the bounce and finished above the rim with enough flash and fury to snag some time in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs (2003-2004) and New Orleans Hornets (2004-2005).
At age 36, Garcia can’t run and jump the way he used to, but unlike so many he’s evolved his game and mindset as his body has started to betray him. A member of the Brazilian national team since the early 2000s, Garcia has gone from young gun to elder statesman, and willingly accepted a role of glue guy and instant energy off the bench.
Built like a bulldog, Garcia relies on guts, guile and physicality to get the job done at both ends. Offensively, he’s extremely adept at posting up and bullying opposing guards on the block, and has a knack for making the hustle plays that don’t show up in the box score. Defensively, Garcia still routinely draws the assignment of covering the opponent’s best perimeter scorer. He’s been able to compensate for losing a step or two by using his tremendous strength to body and beat up opponents. On both ends, he looks to initiate contact at every opportunity – exactly my kind of player.
Amazingly, other than his two stints in the NBA, Garcia has only played one other season outside of his native Brazil, spending 2007-2008 suiting up for international power Macabbi Tel Aviv in Israel. In his homeland, Garcia has been nothing short of a superstar. Among his accolades are three Brazilian League Championships (2010, 2011, 2012) a South American League Championship (2010), two FIBA Americas League Champion: (2009, 2015), four Campeonato Brasiliense de Basquete Championships (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), two FIBA Americas League Grand Final MVPs (2009, 2015), five Brazilian League Best Defenders (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), four Brazilian League 1st Team (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and a South American League MVP (2014).
Through the first two games of what is likely his last Olympics (he’d be 40 in 2020), Garcia has averaged 16.8 minutes, 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and an assist, all down from his career averages. But his savvy play and defensive intensity played a key role in Brazil’s shocker over Spain and near upset of Lithuania.