Nearly finished with his rehab and already back on the basketball court, an idea hit Charlon Kloof’s heart and mind.
The former St. Bonaventure basketball standout tore his quad completely while playing for the Netherlands men’s national basketball team this past February. At no point of his decorated basketball career had Kloof been sidelined from a devastating injury. Surgery and the grueling process that is recovery had been afterthoughts for him to that point.
But that was reality. For seven months, Kloof worked incessantly to get back on the court. And near the end, he wanted to take his experience and give it meaning. He wanted something on file that would motivate and inspire people beyond just the basketball sphere. Kloof’s goal was to let people know — near and far — that tough times don’t last forever.
That’s why he produced “The Story Continues,” a five-part docuseries that premiered last week.
So far, Kloof has released four episodes, which can be viewed on his Instagram page and website. The first episode serves as an introduction and sets the stage for the series while the second episode highlights his family, specifically his close relationship with his mother. In the third episode, Kloof discusses his upbringing in Suriname and how the experiences have shaped him into who he is today as a person and basketball player. The fourth episode focuses on his mindset and his constant quest for balance and consistency in anything that he does in life.
“I wanted to be able to let people know that hard times really don’t last. Keep working and keep having faith because you will get through it,” Kloof said via phone with TAPinto Greater Olean. “A lot of businesses are struggling right now [due to the coronavirus pandemic]. First it was just for the younger generation, but as I was telling the story and talking to people, I realized that this is for everybody. Everyone has ups and downs.”
And nobody knows that better than Kloof. To really comprehend “The Story Continues,” one must understand that Kloof has had more than just a devastating injury stand in his way.
Kloof’s challenges of the past fall in line with those of the present because of the approaches he has taken to get through each and every one of them. For Kloof, that approach is a mixture of a relentless work ethic and unmatched toughness.
Growing up in Suriname, Kloof had no blueprint to look at. He had to pave his own way out of South America’s smallest country, which also is one of the world’s poorest nations. According to the Borgen Project, 70 percent of the country’s population lives under the poverty line.
As a teenager, Kloof would read SLAM Magazine, a popular American basketball publication. He read all about the best high school, collegiate and professional basketball players in the United States.
That’s when he started to train like he was “the worst player on the court,” a mindset he still carries to this day.
“One of my friends became my trainer, and he said, ‘you can’t get tired right now because there’s this guy in America that is outworking you right now. He’s got a bigger chance because he’s right there, so you better keep working.’ I had to work five times harder than everyone else.”
And it’s true. No matter how hard Kloof worked to be noticed, he never seemed to find anyone willing to take a chance on him.
He went to multiple junior college tryouts in the United States. And in most cases, he said, coaches would predetermine his fate. In other cases, he would try out with large groups of players for one opening on a roster. He never made it.
But with every last penny and dime to his name, he bought two more plane tickets to the United States. His breakthrough at last.
“I will never forget it,” he said. “I flew to Florida, I had some tryouts there, and nothing happened. I had a friend who lived in North Carolina. It was literally the last money in my pocket to get the plane ticket to North Carolina. We took a phone book, looked at the zip code, and picked the school closest to where my friend lived.”
That was Guilford Technical Community College, where he played one season (2009-10) and averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor in 24 games.
But one breakthrough did not give Kloof an excuse to move away from the mindset that got him there and through his quad injury. Kloof would be the first one to arrive at practice, and the last to leave. When someone would ask why he worked so tirelessly, he didn’t have to think twice about his response.
“At some point, everyone is really good,” he said. “It takes the one person that boxes out that last box out. That one person that goes on the floor for that loose ball. It’s that extra little thing that you don’t want to do that gives you that slight edge. For me, coming out of Suriname, I trained myself to take any type of advantage that I could get.”
From Guilford Technical, Kloof went to Canarias Basketball Academy, a prep school in Spain's Canary Islands. One successful season later, he earned the opportunity he had longed for when he least expected it: a chance to play Division I basketball.
Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt came to the academy in search of a center. He found that in one of Kloof’s opponents, Ogo Adegboye. He also found another point guard in Kloof.
“Schmidt is the guy who took a chance on me,” Kloof said. “What people outside of sports don’t always see or know is, sometimes it’s just that chance. You have to be at the right place at the right time. Coach Schmidt came for two or three days. He saw Ogo. He was like, ‘well, I do need a point guard.’ ”
As a 21-year-old, Kloof arrived at St. Bonaventure in the fall of 2011. Over three seasons in the brown and white, he played in 94 games and started in 74 of them. In 2,506 minutes played, Kloof scored 751 career points while dishing out 310 assists and pulling down 236 total rebounds.
In his first season, Kloof, then a sophomore, helped the Bonnies win the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament for the first time ever and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000. He played in 32 games with 27 starts and finished second on the team in assists (87) and steals (27). He made 22 of 59 of three-point field goals, finishing third on the team in percentage (37.3).
He had his best statistical season as a senior (2013-14) when he played and started all 33 games. He scored in double figures 20 times that season and averaged 11.8 points and 4.9 assists a game.
Currently, Kloof plays professionally for MoraBanc Andorra, a team that competes in Spain’s top professional basketball division, Liga ACB. He also plays for the Netherlands national team.
In between graduating from St. Bonaventure more than seven years ago and the injury last season, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard has made plenty of successful professional stops around the globe. He led Istanbul DSI in scoring as a rookie in 2014-15 with 19.8 points per game. He played so well with Rethymno Crete in Greece in 2015-16, Fiat Torino in Italy signed him in the middle of the season. That success spilled over into his time with MZT Skopje in Macedonia. He led Skopje to a championship and earned Most Valuable Player Honors afterwards.
He played for Spain’s UCAM Murica in 2017 and became the first ever Surinamese player to compete in Liga ACB. He returned to Turkey in 2019 to play for OMG Ormanspor.
His top priorities at the moment lie with the Netherlands national team, which competes in a bubble-like environment in Istanbul, Turkey. His goal is to help the Netherlands qualify for the European Championships for the second time since 2015, when it qualified for the EuroBasket for the first time in 20 plus years, he said.
But there's also something more.
“When athletic guys get injured, the biggest thing is, ‘oh they’re not athletic anymore, he will have a big drop off,' ” he said. “Basically, I always find an excuse to keep working.”
He got through the quad injury because he’s been down on his luck before. He has learned a thing or two about perseverance. He documented his recovery because he wants people to know it’s okay to struggle.
After all, the story always continues.
“I want to show the basketball world that I am healthy,” he said. “ I didn’t lose a step. I am still me. As far as basketball wise, I would say that I am better than I was before the injury.”
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