Then five years removed from a memorable run with the St. John’s Red Storm, his only previous shot uncontrollably evaporated when the team he previously signed to switched coaches mid-summer, and the new coach brought in one of his own guys to take Boothe’s place.
One year after telling his story, he can now add a new chapter, which will begin with the Halifax Hurricanes of the National Basketball League in Canada, where the 28-year-old Boothe officially signed his first pro deal earlier this month.
The Queens native is a long away from his playing days at St. John’s and Christ the King High School, but Boothe has kept himself active playing in a number of tournaments and showcases ever since.
We caught up with the former Red Storm point guard and March Madness alum to discuss this new opportunity north of the border.
BQE Media: How did your deal with Halifax come about? What were the details that led to the signing?
Malik Boothe: Cliffy Clinkscales, who has been the point guard for them the past four seasons, told coach he thought it’d be a good idea to give me a look during last season. That didn’t go as planned but Cliffy kept pushing for me and coach kept me in the back of his mind. Coach came to visit New York, saw me play and was willing to give me a shot on his team.
BQE: What was your initial reaction upon getting signed?
MB: I was happy but wasn’t overly excited because I hadn’t played a game yet. I think I’ll be more excited when I get out there and the season gets started.
BQE: You had previously mentioned not getting a deal, so was this like, “finally”? Did you feel like the game owed you?
MB: Like I said previously, I was happy but not too excited. No I don’t feel like the game owes me or anyone anything.
BQE: How long will you be out there? What’s the team like?
MB: I think I get out there in early November and hopefully will be there until then end of the finals, which I think is in May. The team has been to the finals each of the last three seasons and won a championship in 2016, so I’ll be joining a team who accustomed to winning and has nothing but winning on the agenda.
BQE: Watching a bunch of your fellow St. John’s classmates from back in the day get pro deals over the years, even now, did you feel like it was only a matter of time?
MB: I’ve always felt like it was a matter of time, never because of where my guys were going but because I truly believed my time was coming. I’ve always been happy for them, and when they heard about me signing they were happy for me.
BQE: By now, a lot players may have given up on getting a pro contract. Simply put, what kept you going?
MB: I haven’t given up on myself because playing basketball is what I’ve always wanted to do.
BQE: What are your thoughts on playing pro ball in Canada?
MB: I’m honestly happy with it. It’s not as far from home as other places and the guys I know who have played where I’ll be said the town really loves and supports the team.
BQE: Not to look too far ahead, but in terms of building yourself and things of that nature, where are you expecting to go from here?
MB: I don’t want to think that far ahead either. I just want to get to Halifax and be a player who can help bring more winning.
BQE: What are your goals and expectations while with Halifax?
MB: Only expectations I have are to win.
Boothe and the Hurricanes will begin their season against a new NBL team in Canada, St. John’s NLFD, on Sunday November 19 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.