Through the first eight games of the current Turkish Airlines Euroleague season, only three players had lined up to shoot more three pointers than Laboral Kutxa Vitoria forward Davis Bertans. Shooting simply comes naturally to the 22-year old, but his career was nearly over before it started.
As a child, basketball was very much a part of the Bertans family’s daily life. The father, Dainis, played professionally and the oldest brother Dairis would go on to pave the way for Davis as a pro; he has already played seven Eurocup seasons for four teams. However it was a day not spent playing basketball that changed Davis’s life.
When Davis was 13, the boys were doing some wood work with their father when tragedy struck. “My father and brother, they were putting the big parts on the big electric saw and I was just taking the small ones off,” Davis said. “And it started to rain and I started to rush and somehow the glove was a little bit too big and it got under the saw and somehow it got pulled in and I lost that finger.”
Though the accident and resulting missing finger could have destroyed his promising career, the young Bertans simply brushed it off and refused to let it get in his way. “It just took one month for me to recover and after that month I was in the gym already shooting and practicing with the other guys.
Bertans was fortunate to have some strong supporters in his corner. In fact, his doctor sometimes used a different form of laughter to help get Bertans back in the game: humor. “My surgeon said, ‘you’re going to see, after a couple of years when you’re going to play and everyone is going to know that you don’t have the finger, they are going to come to me and ask, ‘take it off, I want to shoot like him!’’”
Where Bertans was most lucky was that the finger he lost, the ring finger on his right hand, was not key to his shooting stroke. “In basktball most of the time you use only three fingers, that’s the main thing that I have those and it doesn’t really matter. “
It’s been nearly a decade since the accident and it has not impacted Bertan’s career. He debuted in the Euroleague as a teenager with Union Olimpija Ljubljana and later played two seasons with Partizan Belgrade, though an ACL injury in his right knee in 2013 caused him to miss much of the following season.
This season is Bertan’s first with Laboral and he has made the most of it. Bertans has started seven of the team’s first eight games and is averaging 11.3 points. He’s tied his Euroleague career high with 20 points against Neptunas on opening night. Bertans has made at least 1 three pointer in all but one game and has multiple threes in six games so far. Altogether Bertans is shooting 17 for 51 (33.3%) from downtown and is perfect in 9 tries from the free throw line.
Bertans signed a three-year deal with Laboral in July and figures to be a key piece in the club’s drive for success. The club is on the verge of making it to the Top 16 and if it does so, Bertans will likely continue drilling threes at an impressive rate all season long, even if he is playing with one fewer finger than the other nine guys on the court.