Please put me in Coach
My wonderful father thought it was a great idea for me to have as many different coaches as possible growing up for a couple of reasons. The first he believed that everyone has something new to teach his very pale and gangly son that could help him along his basketball journey. The second was his understanding that there are several different coaching styles and I would need to learn how to deal with different types of coaches as I continued to progress as a basketball. I think he was doing his best to get me ready for the working world and dealing with different types of bosses.
I say all of this because with my first two teams I played for professionally I had a tough time getting on the floor. In Jerusalem I played all of 25 minutes for the entire year and Slovenia was a serious struggle only averaging 10 minutes a game. In Malta, the level of play was very low and I was the best player on the island so getting minutes and statistics was the biggest reason for signing. It also did not hurt that it is one of the most beautiful and historic islands in the world. I had a pretty good relationship off the floor with all three coaches but on my first two teams it was difficult to since I was not getting to play, which was frustrating since that had never happened in my basketball life before.
Having a good working relationship with your coach is really important as a pro and can really make or break your season. As foreigner you are expected to be one of the best players on the floor and to put in the simplest of terms GET BUCKETS!!! But some coaches/clubs have agendas like promoting their younger national team players or the son of the club’s GM* and it is not always what is in the team’s or your best interest in mind. Doing anything where money is involved will invariably come with politics especially in the basketball world.
I tell you guys this because on my second day in my new home I went out to lunch with my head coach, Lars Gunnar, and assistant Mark DiGiacomo. Both Lars and Mark are my size and played professionally for several years in South America and Europe. Lars is a native to Norway and Mark grew up in Philadelphia. Mark still has a thick East Coast accent despite living Norway for almost 30 years now. During our lunch we got to know one another by sharing stories of where we have all played and what we have all done. They were interested in my background playing at Wisconsin as well as in Jerusalem.
Lunch lasted about two hours and it was great to get some quality face-to-face time with these my two new colleagues. We covered a few basketball things, and I knew I was going to be able to thrive under both of their direction. They were going to lean on me and my experiences to help out with our very young team. Both of them had a respect for my basketball knowledge, and me, which was great because after one meeting I felt comfortable coming to both of them with any ideas about how to handle anything with the team both on and off the court. It was also great to know that I would need to get myself in great shape cause both of them stated I would rarely be coming off the floor.
After lunch I caught a ride back to my apartment where I crashed hard and enjoyed a long nap periodically interrupted by Suits playing in the background.
On my next blog I will discuss how getting lost in a new city is the best way to figure it out.
* — My team in Slovenia had a young point guard who happened to be the son of our GM. Before I got cut my coach had told me that he was getting some pressure to play this kid a certain number of minutes or else. This happens all the time in Europe and especially in more Eastern Bloc countries who really like to keep their hometown boys on the floor as much as possible.