Since he first came to Europe to play basketball in 2012, Jordan Theodore has made the most out of his professional career. Theodore embraced the culture and especially the passion European fans bring to basketball. He always made sure to share these experiences with those close to him. His life took a critical turning point in the 2016-17 season. After a great year with German powerhouse Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt, Theodore returned to Turkey to play for his third team in that country, Banvit Bandirma, after previous experiences with Antalya and Mersin.
Theodore was named MVP of the Turkish Cup final after leading Banvit to the trophy with a 66-75 victory over Anadolu Efes Istanbul. He tallied 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in that game. Theodore was later voted MVP of the Basketball Champions League after taking Banvit to the title game; he topped that competition with 7.5 assists per game and ranked fourth in scoring with 16.2 points per game.
Despite his many on-court successes, Theodore will remember that season for something much greater: he found true love. Theodore began a relationship with Tugba Tasci, a well-known Turkish basketball player.
"Becoming a father has been amazing, one of the best things I have ever done in my life."
They had actually met years before, as Theodore described: "I was down near the Mediterranean Sea. She was in Besiktas at the time and we met. I saw her one day and I just couldn’t stop staring at her. But she didn’t pay me any attention. I introduced myself, but I think she was in a relationship at the time and she just didn’t pay me any attention, which was okay. I was a rookie, I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend at the time."
Four years later proved to be the right moment for Theodore to make a move. "We ended up running into each other when I was in Turkey last season and I had to tell her, 'I’ve had a crush on you since I first met you… And I’m at a point in my life now where I think it’s time," he told EuroLeague.net in 2018.
Jordan and Tugba are together and stronger than ever. In fact, they have a growing family.
"Everything with me and Tugba is great. We are married now. We have a beautiful little girl. She's going to be one next month. It hasn't been easy traveling so much like I do, but for the most part, my marriage has been great. Becoming a father has been amazing, one of the best things I have ever done in my life, and I'm looking forward to the next!" Theodore said.
Jordan and Tugba's daughter, Lila Jordyn Theodore, was born on May 7, 2020. Tugba changed her surname and is now Tugba Theodore.
"The wedding was amazing. We had it in Istanbul, right on the Bosphorus. It was a beautiful ceremony for about 200 people, all family and friends," Theodore shared. "My family flew in from the States and everybody from her side was there. It was really amazing."
Tugba had a long career and finished in style by lifting the EuroCup Women trophy with Galatasaray in 2018. She decided it was time for the next chapter in life.
"She retired from the game after she won the EuroCup with Galatasaray," Theodore confirmed. "She was like, 'my body's done mentally. I'm done with all the traveling'. She just wanted to be with me and for us to get started on our family."
Tugba has followed Jordan to each of his stops ever since. He played for AEK Athens and joined Besiktas, a team his wife knew well: Tugba played for that club for six seasons. For the better part of the last two seasons, Jordan and Tugba have been in Kazan, Russia. Understanding the game so well - Tugba also played point guard - has given Jordan an extra boost off the court.
"She has a tremendous IQ. She was really good at what she did out there on the floor. She could really play, so it's very important for me to have her in my life because sometimes things are not easy, you know?" he explained. "This season, it might seem like it, we have been winning a lot of games, but in my past and I have had some down times and she would definitely pick me up."
Of course, living with someone who understands the game so well can be dangerous sometimes.
"Trust me, she's not easy to please, man. She is my toughest critic. I used to be myself, but now it's definitely her. She has taken over that responsibility," Theodore joked. "Sometimes it is annoying because it's like basketball doesn't stop. You know, home is supposed to be a place where you go, relax, get away from work. But for me is with work 24/7 because the things that that I don't do well in the court, she lets me have it. Even the things I do well in the court, I need to do more!
"It's a beautiful thing. I mean, sometimes you don't want to hear it, especially on the down days. You might lose a game or you might just have a bad day at practice, you know how it goes. But for the most part, it's been amazing. She is very helpful and keeps me grounded."
"She is my toughest critic. I used to be myself, but now it's definitely her."
Returning to Kazan this season was important for the Theodore family. First, Jordan believes he had to finish the job and win the EuroCup with UNICS, playing alongside one of his best friends, the freshly-crowned EuroCup MVP Jamar Smith.
"Kazan is a great place and I love the management here. I love the coaching staff. I was here last year with Coach Priftis before COVID struck, so me and him and all the rest of the guys have a great relationship," he said. "And it was important for me to come back and play with Jamar Smith, he is somebody that's like a brother to me. Congratulations to him for being named EuroCup MVP! He has been great all season. We had unfinished business last year. We felt like we could have won the EuroCup, and that's why when I got the opportunity to come back, I definitely looked at it as me and Jamar being able to finish what we started."
Tugba already won the EuroCup Women, and Jordan now has the opportunity to lift this trophy. What Jordan cannot do, however, is see Tugba play while he is in the stands with their daughter.
"No, it never happened. And I am kind of disappointed a little bit that she stopped playing because I want it to be there. I wanted to have my 'Love and Basketball' moment where I am with our daughter on the sidelines sitting courtside, cheering for mommy! But I don't think I'll ever get that."