Gabe York is back in the NBA, playing for himself and something much bigger: his mom
York was grateful for a second opportunity with the Pacers to end the season. The 29-year-old guard kept his head down and kept working for a shot in the NBA.
It was déjà vu last week for Gabe York.
Having just completed his second season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers’ G League affiliate, he was about to turn the page to the offseason when the team waived Trevelin Queen. That created an open roster spot and, as I first reported here, they intended to use it on one of their own.
They used it to reward York by signing him to a two-way contract for the final week of the season, just like they did at this time last season.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity and thankful to the Pacers organization for giving me another chance,” the guard said. “I just look forward to getting out there and being able to play.”
He’s available to play in the final three games. Not only does this provide him with a five-figure salary bonus to end the season, but it also gives him real minutes against NBA competition.
“Loyalty and consistency should be rewarded,” said Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle. “So this is a decision that came down, obviously ownership has to approve it, but management and the coaching staff were completely in agreement that Gabe deserved this opportunity. It’s great for him, it’s great for us.”
York is a 6-foot-3 guard. He’s a sharpshooter, a sniper and he averaged 21.4 points per game this season in the G League and shot 40.1% from range.
York’s love for the game, his motivation and his perseverance were all tested as he tried to make it. He’s worked and worked and made sacrifices that not many are willing to make. Like playing overseas, playing for seven different teams, and playing in NBA summer league as a 28 year old.
For more than a decade, back when he was a high school phenom and a YouTube sensation, his focus has been on playing in the NBA — where there are only 450 roster spots each year. So by signing for the rest of the season, it’s once again realizing his dream, albeit in the short term, and it represents progress toward his end game.
Last April, fresh after signing his first NBA contract, I asked him where his perseverance came from because it’s been critical to his rise.
“My mom, 100%,” he said, without hesitation. “She’s worked as a server for 23 years now. Never quit, never gave up, two sons. My dad left when I was two so she had to provide food for me and him. Worked two-to-three jobs at times, left at 7 a.m. and came home at midnight and never complained. That’s why I keep my head down and keep moving with the punches.”
His mom, Deborah York, cared for Gabe and his brother, who is three years older, by herself. York immediately thinks of her with each new opportunity.
“I was supposed to have her done working a long time ago,” he said. “Hopefully that’s my next step with having an NBA contract for a little bit. Now next season, it’s to stay in the NBA for a full season so I can get my mom to stop working.”
Among the punches York referenced was getting passed over for opportunities. Like early on in his career in Charlotte after being with them for summer league. They ended up going with Mike Tobey over him.