Brian Cook was always a bit player in the NBA. So when he dropped out of the league at 31, no one gave it a second thought. Bench players get pushed out of the league all the time, so Cook quickly disappeared into the fog of NBA has-beens.
Or so it seemed. As it turns out, Cook's departure from the NBA wasn't performance-related at all. As the 33-year-old recently revealed to Basketball Insiders, the decision to leave the NBA was voluntary.
"My wife had cancer, so I've had to be at home a little bit the last couple of years," said Cook. "I'm ready to get some competition back in me, so it's been good for me to get out here and be with these younger guys, these hungry guys, because I'm hungry too. I'm trying to squeeze out a few more years."
NBA comebacks typically don't end well even for one-time league superstars -- Allen Iverson is a perfect example. But Cook appears to have a legitimate shot with the Detroit Pistons, which offered him an invite to their training camp after a strong performance in the NBA's Summer League play.
Cook does have a strong background that could make him a positive presence in the Pistons locker room. He is a former Big Ten Player of the Year at Illinois, and made an appearance in the NBA Finals while playing for Van Gundy in Orlando.
A training camp invite does not guarantee a roster spot, but Van Gundy is starting his rebuilding project in Detroit, and establishing a new team culture will be a big part of that. The situation sets up nicely for Cook to have a serious shot at turning his comeback dream into a reality.