THEY say don't judge a book by its cover. In new Melbourne Tigers import Jonny Flynn's case, don't judge a player by his label.

The 23-year-old point guard was the No. 6 pick in the 2009 NBA draft and after an impressive rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves was felled by a hip injury that has since come to define him. Flynn was traded to Houston last season as Spanish star Ricky Rubio, who was in the same draft, joined the Timberwolves and became the face of the team.

In Houston, the former Syracuse stand-out was benched and eventually let go. In Flynn's own words, "the cheerleaders got more time on court" and he couldn't even get court-time during training.

After making around $10 million (before tax) in three years in the NBA, Flynn found himself cut by the Detroit Pistons before the current season and looking at his options.

While he had offers of $1.3 million to play a season in China, Flynn instead opted for a one-season deal with the Tigers for less than 20 per cent of the China offer. His motivation for coming to Melbourne is simple; he just wants to play again.

"People wouldn't understand it and would just be content to be in the NBA," he said. "Yeah, you are making good money and, yeah, you are doing everything first class and staying at the right places.

"But at the end of the day, why did you start playing basketball? Because you love it, because when you were out there on the court, it was your getaway, it frees your mind of everything.

"That is where I'm at right now, just happy to get back on the court and playing."

Flynn also defended his own health, saying he was 100 per cent fit and ready to prove the doubters, both in the NBA and around the world, wrong.

"You come off an injury and you know you are all right but that is the label they give you and you can't shake that," Flynn said. "They sort of look at you as damaged goods and that was the thing that was getting to me."