Q: As an American, how did you become a professional basketball player in Germany?
A: It’s a combination of being good and being lucky. I played well enough in college to be recognized by an agent who has contacts all over Europe. He approached me after the season and asked if I would be interested in playing overseas for a year. I was still in school and was finishing an internship at a real-estate firm that might have led into a job, so it was a tough decision to make.
Q: Are there lots of Americans playing basketball there?
A: Yes and no. Would the average person be surprised at how many Americans are playing basketball in obscure leagues all over the world? Yes. But considering how many college players and kids in America play basketball, are there a lot of Americans doing this? No.
I know a lot of people who have tried to play, wanted to play, or played for a little bit and got cut or got in a bad situation and just came home.
Q: What does that mean, “got in a bad situation”?
A: In some leagues, you don’t get paid on time. If they don’t pay you, you have to commit to waiting it out and continually demanding pay, or commit to calling it quits and trying to find a new team.
Then there are always the typical problems that anyone would have in moving to a new location, like how well will you adjust to the new culture or will you get along with your roommate? Will your new surroundings arouse a burning desire to break the law? This is probably the No. 1 reason for players finding themselves in “bad situations.” Sometimes I think having a criminal record is a prerequisite for playing professionally and I somehow slipped below the radar.
Q: Is your league like the German version of the NBA?
A: No. Definitely not. I’m not sure what you’d call what I’m doing.
I’m playing in what appears to be a recreational league with random professional players interspersed. I have friends playing in the top leagues in their respective countries—they have more of what I’d call a legitimate career.
Q: So they don’t sell jerseys with your name on it?
Q: What’s the name of your team? (If you can’t/shouldn’t tell me, it’s OK.)
A: BG Leitershofen/Stadtbergen. The Red Kangaroos. I don’t think I’ll get in trouble, but I also highly doubt many pro basketball players are going to be scouring literary websites on the Internet.
Q: Do you have cheerleaders?
A: There is a group of 15 girls who show up to our games and perform cheers at timeouts and during halftime; however, I’m still not sure if they are technically our cheerleaders. The majority of the girls have not hit puberty. The “captain” or “coach” of the team is a girl closer to the age of the players (22 maybe?) but has not clued her young protégées in on the amazing invention of the strapless bra. This is important, considering the uniforms are cut in a strapless design. The poor little Red Kangaroo cheerleaders look more like young prostitutes in training.
Q: Are there any girls who are groupies of the team?
A: We go to the same bar every Saturday after home games, and if the same group of girls happens to hang out with us more than a couple of weekends in a row, some of the guys will try to call them groupies. They are not groupies. They don’t come to the games.
Q: Are your games televised?
A: No way. We’re in the newspaper, though. The articles are about as long as your standard obituary.
Q: What’s your basic week like?
A: We only practice three days a week, and practice is late at night. We have one game every Saturday.
Other than that, I don’t have any obligations. The first couple of weeks, I just wandered around the city and took pictures of the statues and the tourist attractions.
I guess I’m pretty boring. I have a German class every morning (paid for by the team) and then I go to the university library and just kind of hang out—like those old or homeless people that you randomly see on college campuses, just kind of mingling in with the student body. Except it’s easier for me, because I’m still young and don’t smell.
Q: What are your teammates like?
A: Very German. They are good guys. The ages range from 17 to 30-plus. They all have other jobs or are going to school.
Q: Do you take steroids?
A: Am I under oath?
Q: What would happen if you were injured while playing?
A: Germany is a good place to play, because health care is mandatory for everyone working or living here. The club I’m playing for set up a health-coverage plan while I am here. It covers everything. I have a health-insurance card that came in the mail, so I’m hoping it’s legitimate and not something my coach made on his computer.
Q: Do you wear sweatbands?
A: As many as I can fit on my body at one time.
Q: Is the pay enough to cover your rent?
A: We are sponsored by a bank and they own a flat just outside the city, so my roommate and I (another American) live there for free.
The pay is actually not that bad. I save about half my paycheck every month. A big incentive to come over here is that most everything is paid for. My flight here and flight home, as well as a flight home at Christmas, are all paid for by the club. I only pay for food, drinks, and my cell phone. Although, an entry-level job in America would pay better than this.
Q: When you’re done with this job, are you going to go back to real estate?
A: I’m going to law school.