From Russia to Phoenix: Iffe Lundberg eager to get back to basketball
The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind for new Phoenix Suns guard Iffe Lundberg.
Lundberg became the first Danish player to sign an NBA contract back on March 12, agreeing to a two-way deal with Phoenix. But Tuesday marked the guard’s first practice with the team after leaving Russia as the conflict with Ukraine began. It was his first taste of organized basketball in five weeks.
The decision to leave Russia was much more than basketball for the 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 9.1 points and two assists over 21.1 minutes per game with CSKA Moscow in the EuroLeague this season.
“At the end of the day, the way I am as a person, I always — my priority is the safety of my family,” Lundberg told reporters Tuesday. “That was the sole reason for us departing Russia, because we were afraid the airspace might get closed, which it did once we finally arrived back home in Denmark.
“So I’m happy I made that decision. … There was just so much uncertainty going on and when you’re in an environment where you don’t really know how to tackle and how to handle things, it’s easy to take the secure way. Not only talking from a player standpoint, but also for my family and how they see and handle the environment.”
From Russia to Denmark to Phoenix, Lundberg, 27, now turns his focus on getting integrated with the best team in the NBA as the regular season winds down.
While playing time remains up in the air, Lundberg is happy to learn from his new teammates and coaching staff, calling it a dream come true.
To head coach Monty Williams, picking up the team’s culture, how hard it plays on a daily basis and acclimating Lundberg into the Suns’ system are the first steps in the guard understanding his new squad.
“He’s got a great body for a guard and he really shoots the ball better than I anticipated,” Williams said. “I didn’t know much about him and when he first got into the gym I saw how he easy he shot the ball. … He’s got a strong build and that means he can take a pounding when he’s going to the basket.
“I haven’t had enough time to really dive into him in film, but (general manager James Jones) spoke so highly of him and we wouldn’t have him here if we didn’t believe that he could play. We’re excited to have a Danish player on our team but especially in the NBA.”