Joe Asberry is known as a basketball clown, as a streetworker and last but not least as a former professional basketball player. He came to Germany in the early 90s and when his career had come to a close, he decided to stay in Germany. Eurobasket.com had the chance to talk to Asberry about the dream of American basketball players to play professionally in Europe, about the difficulties to start a new life in a foreign country and about the risks and pleasures of playing pro ball: a must-read for young Americans who play or want to play in Europe.
I'm sure, there won't be many, but for those people who don't know you yet, can you talk about your career as a basketball player, how and when you first came to Germany and where you spent your professional career. Joe Asberry: In high school I was All State in Washington and won a State Championship with the German Legend Christian Welp. He was the foreign exchange student at my school. I was heavily recruited on the West Coast. I took all five of my recruiting visits: Reno, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Washington State. But I ended up choosing the wrong school by going to Pepperdine. I fell into coach Jim Harricks doghouse because of my criminal activity off the court, and did not play much. But I can say I played in the big show during march madness and got a dunk in garbage time in front of 20 000 people. That's big time basketball, I love march madness so much! I was frustrated with my playing time, so I transferred to San Francisco State. I played there for two years, I started and was a main guy on my team. I was not the big star in college, I was a role player known for my rebounding, defense, and my bounce. I got cut by a CBA team in Oklahoma City, and by the Golden State Warriors, but I never gave up. I first came to Germany back in 1991, when Marzel Price was playing in the first division in Giessen. We grew up together in the hood in California, so he hooked me up. I want to thank Thomas Andres, he took a chance on me, when nobody else would, and in return, I averaged 30 and broke a backboard playing for him in the oberliga. I was playing against Big Wysocki (Konrads dad) in that game. When I saw his son this year playing in Bonn in the first division, I told him I was mighty proud that he chased down his hoop dream and his brother Kevin too. That was my first job, I got paid 150 marks per game. I also want to thank Harry Kramer, the second half of that season. I played with him in Krofdorf Gleiburg, and my dunk show never stopped. I averaged 30 in the 2nd Regionalliga and had a 50 point game playing with the managers of the UBC Tigers, Mike and Markus Goch. I helped Crailsheim move to the 2nd division, I played in Finland (2nd Division Korinokia), I played on a touring team in Japan and China, and my last stop was in Luxembourg (BBC Nitia), where I also averaged 30, but I fell out of love with basketball, because in Luxembourg they expect you to do every thing. How can I play the point with no handles? I did it though. If you ever play there, when you leave that country you will be a better basketball player, trust me.
What have you been doing after your career as a basketball player and what made you decide to stay in Germany? Asberry: After my playing career I stared working for a drug prevention center in Hamburg (SPZ) and now I work in Bonn as a streetworker in Tannenbusch. I try to save kids' lifes everyday using basketball as a tool to get them to go school ,stay out of trouble etc. I decided to stay in Germany, because it is better then trying to rob banks in California, for me it was a no brainer LOL!
Many players have a dream of playing a couple of seasons in Europe and then making it to the NBA or at least playing in the Euroleague one day. Did you have that dream yourself back then and how likely is it for a young player to achieve that? Asberry: My dream was to play in the NBA and win a championship. I wanted to be two people when I was a young buck: my big brother Mike, and Dominique Wilkens. I stole their games and put it all into my game. My ballhandling was not good enough for the NBA, everything else was good enough, but I still got cut: wrong place, wrong time. I tell young guys: You have a shot, but it will be very difficult. There are alot of great basketball players out there. So chase your hoop dream and give it your best shot. I gave it my best shot for sure.
What are some of the problems, on and off the court, that a player will face, who comes out of college and who spends his first year as a pro basketball player in Germany? Asberry: I am a natural born clown, but I must take this question very serious, Moritz. I had a long talk with Greg Baker last week, the star player playing in Iserlohn in the 1st Regionalliga. After that conversation I know the answer. The main problem an American coming from college will run into here in Germany is called THE CLUB! It is ok to party and have fun. You deserve it, you work hard, you run lines everyday. I know, I've been there and done that. But the problem is: How do I get home now after the heavy partying and drinking with my teammates? I have watched it every year here, some Americans will get into the car the club has given him, and drive it home after the night partying. This is a bad decision. Take it from a guy who's life has been filled with bad decisions. So party on young bucks, and get a designated driver, leave that car at home. Because when your manager finds out, you will be fired. And I dont even want to think about the fact that you can kill yourself, or hurt others driving in that condition. And trust me: They go HARD HERE! LOL! Or better yet, stay out of the club, study film and become a student of the game.
Do you feel that the players who come to Germany or other European countries for the first time are prepared for the different culture, the different life that is waiting overhere? And what can be done to better that situation? Asberry: Players who come to Europe for the first time have no idea what is going on. A different time zone, a different culture. You leave everyone around you that you truly love, you are on your own. Like my big homey told me: It's time to really MAN UP! You are a professional basketball player now. This is not college, this is your JOB NOW! They pay you for a service, basketball, and they want to see the results. If you can't produce, they will find another player easily that will produce. My advice is to ask guys that you know who play in Europe, what it is all about.
Do you think living the life as a professional basketball overseas can go together with living the "normal" life of a young man, who wants to enjoy life? Asberry: I think that professional basketball and a normal life can go hand in hand. You only have to train I would say a maximum 6 hours per day. Get some shots up for 2 hours, hit the weights for 2 hours, and then your normal practice with your team. So you're still not working that eight hour grind of a 9 to 5. So the other time you can spend checking out the city, bonding with teammates, but please, don't just sit in your apartment playing video games the whole day, like I did LOL!
Compared to other places and to other countries: Is Germany a good place to start your overseas career? Asberry: Germany is an excellent place to start your career. When I see the guys who play here in Bonn: Man, for them it must be like paradise. Your first job in the first league! They play in a beautiful Dome. I am so happy for Dre Mangold, he understands the grind here with basketball. He stayed patient, worked hard, and now instead of playing in that little box of a gym in Hannover, where I tore my biceps dunking, he is now playing in that dome.
Does any player, regardless the school he attended or the college division he played in, has the chance to play overseas? And what's the best way of finding a place to play overseas? Asberry: Oh yes. Let me clear that up right now for people who do not understand basketball here. If you can ball, you can ball. It's nice to go with a guy who played Division 1 for sure, that's big time basketball. But there are guys who play Division 2, 3, Juco, even just coming out of high school who can flat out GO! The best thing about those guys who play on a lower level is most of them always have that chip on their shoulder, like they have something to prove. When I played here in cup games, I was like: Ok, I play in the 3rd league, but today we play against a 1 or 2nd division team, so I am going to prove I can play on that level. I never played in the 1st division here, but in every one of those cup games I dropped 20 and 10, so I proved to myself I could play with those guys. So for you guys playing here on the lower levels: Stay ready, you never know who is in that gym watching you. So for the young guys dreaming about playing professional basketball here in Europe: Check the agents page, contact clubs, get your footage together, go to summer leagues and show cases, and give it all you got. I hope this information helps some youngster out there to live out their hoop dream. And last but not least thank you so much Pat Elzie, my former agent!
New German Pro B team SSV lok Bernau have reeled in Timajh Parker-Rivera (203-F-94). Timajh Parker-Rivera (203-F-94) is a 22 year old 203cm forward that brings 235 pounds to the scale. He hails from Milford Conneticut and will be starting his professional basketball career in Germany with SSV Lok Bernau. He played the last four years at Towson (NCAA) and has the most wins in the school history with 75. Last season as a senior he played 33 games averaging 6.5ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.2apg, 1.2bpg, FG... [read more]