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Friday, January 9, 2009

Run The Break

I was talking to a reporter from Five Magazine (a German basketball publication) the other day and the premise behind the interview was to describe my jump from Germany's fourth league to Germany's first league. The reporter was curious as to how I was adjusting this season and how I dealt with the sudden transition at the end last years season. Speaking of transition, the biggest adjustment, like jayvee to varsity or highschool to college, was the speed of the game. My current team is one of the smallest, but fastest teams in the league, although those who have played with me may find that hard to believe. But when I say we get out and run…I mean we get out and RUN. So the play on words from this blog title doesn't deal as much with transition basketball as it does with catching a break in life, taking it and running with it. I thought of that all by myself.

Now some of you reading this blog may know the story but for those of you that don't I'll give you the short version. After graduating from NYU with a decent GPA and zero job offers, I decided my best option was to pursue my lifelong goal of becoming a professional basketball. The only problem was that my dream originally included David Stern at an MSG podium saying "with the first pick in the 2007 draft the New York Knicks select"… followed by me putting on a Knick's cap, eventually getting a shoe deal and not to mention the biggest rookie contract in the history of the league. The reality of it was there was no shoe deal (I'd have to wear the same Nike's I wore in college), there was no million dollar contract (I'd settle for a furnished apartment, a couple of hundred Euros a month, laundry service, a train pass, and a bicycle) and the closest I was getting to David Stern was sitting next to a kid named Dave in one of my NYU Stern school of business electives. One part of my original dream did come true however, and what part you ask? I got my Knick's cap, but it was only because my assistant college coach (and Knicks Legend) Cal Ramsey got me a counselor job at their basketball camp a few weeks before I left.

Saying all of this to say, my dream didn't exactly pan out the way I thought it was. No agent, no connections, and if it weren't for an email I received from Moritz Korff (a writer for the German national page of www.eurobasket.com), I'd probably be somewhere in corporate America right now. The e-mail stated that after seeing some former d3 standouts do well abroad as well as seeing some of my awards and honors during my collegiate career, if continuing to play basketball is what I wanted to do, he would help. Now growing up where I grew up (the Bronx, not Sugar Loaf) people don't usually do something for nothing. Although a bit skeptical I figured I didn't really have anything to lose and we ended up staying in contact. He got my profile and tapes out to a bunch of lower level pro teams and told me I could move up in a few years if I prove myself. My first stop was a small East German ball club right outside of Berlin called Lok Bernau (or the Bernau Locomotives).

Now for all of you that slept through 10th grade World History, East Germany was where Hitler ruled, you remember him right? Nazis, World War II, Concentration camps, the Berlin Wall etc. Well although times have changed, a CULTURE SHOCK is putting, what I went through, exceptionally mild. I struggled both socially and financially. I could have made more friends bartending at a lounge on Christopher Street and definitely could have made more money. If it weren't for skyping with my girlfriend and my roommate/teammate constantly wanting to go on "adventures" I don't think I would have made it. But although social life and salary weren't up to par, I did get a chance to work on my all around basketball game, learn a bunch of German and do a lot of sightseeing. I gained a new appreciation for the German culture and time started to go by a lot faster. Around mid-February I got a call from a former college all star teammate, who was also in Germany, informing me that his team (in the top German league) was interested in having me tryout for a newly vacant spot. After some soul-searching and talking it over with the Bernau coach, management, teammates, and my family, I decided it was the best thing I could do, for me. I've come to realization that that's how you have to look at a lot of things in this business. A good tryout led to an offer and today I find myself with that same team and in an even better situation.

What's Playing in Jason's iPod: Stuedabakerbrown-Pulling Punches

This is not the last time you will be seeing Stuedabakerbrown in this section of my blog…besides putting on the best live show in New York City since "The Desserters" rocked out Josie Woods Pub, this band is made up of some of the coolest guys I've ever met. Two of the members I know closely and the band's success in the music industry is similar to my success on the basketball court. Anytime I think back of how long this road has actually been, or just need a reminder of where I came from…I know I can always play a little Stuedabakerbrown…plus have you ever had more fun saying a bands name? I didn't think so.

YouTube Video of the Week: Hitler sings the Jefferson's theme song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-udKKkEYNoo&feature=related

Videos like this one are the reasons why I haven't decided whether I enjoy or despise using YouTube. All this talk about moving on up had The Jefferson's theme song stuck in my head but when I searched for it this Hitler video was the third result. I know this was meant to be funny, and I actually do find it pretty comical, but I just don't want to be searching for an Obama speech one day and find the chipmunk version…Geez it's too late http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfKtKV-cRGs

German Phrase of the Week: (1)Hallo (2)Wie gehts? (3)Gut (4)Tschüß (5)Auf Wiedersehen!

This isn't actually a phrase but five useful sayings that you'd hear a lot of if you were here in Germany. The first one means "Hello" I bet you could have guessed that one…but the rest are a little more difficult. The second one means "how is it going?" The usual answer to that question is a simple "gut" or "good." The fourth one is how we say "goodbye." Phonetically, the rules will make your head hurt, it sort of sounds like you are saying "cheers" but you have to hauk a loogie in the back of your throat and bite the front of your tongue to pronounce it right. Try it! That last letter is not a capital B but actually a double S…I know, I know. Finally, the last one is a more formal way of saying "goodbye" kind of like a "farewell" or something, it isn't used as much but is a good one to know.

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