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Jordan Sullivan in China

Former Montana Lady Griz Jordan Sullivan (lower left corner) and her teammates celebrate a win for the team USA during their recent trip to China.

Jordan Sullivan had pretty much accepted the fact it was over between her and her first love.

At least the real serious part.

It was March and the former Montana Lady Griz was back in her hometown of Sidney working as a court reporter, content the final buzzer had sounded on her pro basketball career in Luxembourg. Jordan started thinking like a lot of ambitious 20-somethings, setting a goal to get into law school.

"I loved the people and my teammates in Lux and the country was amazing," she told the Missoulian, "but basketball was losing its fun."

She started her real-world job just after Christmas and was all settled in when her agent, ex-Lady Griz Jeanne McNulty King, contacted her out of the blue. King wanted to know if she'd be interested in playing basketball for a team representing the United States on a two-week tour in China.

Suddenly the tenacious kid who couldn't stay away from the gym and the fierce competitor that still bleeds Maroon & Silver reappeared all at once. Sullivan got permission from her boss to take off work and now she's mighty glad she did.

"We drew awesome crowds, so that was fun and kinda felt like the college days again," said Sullivan, whose team of upstart pros and college seniors posted a record of 9-0 in games against foes from China, New Zealand and Poland.

"People are allowed to smoke in the gyms, which was weird. And we were all struggling with the food. But it was such an eye-opening experience in just a few weeks. The Chinese people are so kind and friendly. It's so funny they treated us like celebrities."

Jordan played the power forward position, fully healed from a knee injury that sidelined her from a championship game when she starred  for a Denmark squad in the winter of 2015. She enjoyed having the green light in China, driving to the hoop even more than she did as a Lady Griz.

It was a storybook ending to Sullivan's playing career. It may also lead to something else since it forced her to re-think her options.

"It's just really hard for me to give up the game totally," she confessed. "And even though I really do want to go to law school, the thought of coaching just lingers in the back of my mind always.

"I would love to be a part of the staff for the Lady Griz. But who wouldn't? I think after spending so much time on the game in life it's just so hard to part ways -- easier for some than others."

An eternal optimist who will forever be remembered for her hustle and grit as a Lady Griz, Jordan was shocked that something so cool fell into her lap. Even the part about finding her favorite cup of coffee in China is a memory she'll carry.

"I was a little nervous to travel on a 15-hour flight to China on kind of a whim of a trip (2 weeks' notice) with no one I knew," she offered. "But these are the kind of experiences I really cannot get anywhere else and I would do it all over again if I got the chance.

"It's amazing the places I've gone and people I've met from something as simple as basketball. ... The girls on the team laughed at me because I was pumped to see a Starbucks over there. But they don't get how in-the-middle-of-nowhere Sidney is."

Middle of nowhere perhaps, Jordan. But between you and your uncle Robin Selvig -- an Outlook native and Lady Griz coaching legend -- I'd say northeastern Montana is pretty well-represented in the world of women's basketball.

 Bill Speltz can be reached at 523-5255 or bill.speltz@missoulian.com

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