Joe Herber(Fraport Skyliners)Is Like Grizzly Adams Surviving In The Basketball Wilderness

Seeing big, bushy, hairy, well trimmed and sometimes unproportional beards that sometimes look as if a  mischievous bird has set up its living quarters on the basketball court is about as unlikely as Paris Hilton buying lipstick in a second hand shop, Christina Aguliera sitting down at the dinner table to get diet tips from rocker Ozzy Osbournes daughter Kelly Osbourne or  Dirk Nowitzki going home to his mothers birthday party in NBA bling bling jewelry, but seeing basketball players with extreme facial hair does happen from time to time. Beards on the court mostly come to mind in the post season, but sporting a beard in the regular season hasn´t been an uncommon occurrence as in the 70s you had ex Gloria Giants Duesseldorf Brendan Winters dad Brian Winters parading around with his ominous  black beard, Portland Trail Blazier Bill Walton dunking with his orange colored beard as if he had just entered the court with the Hells Angels, in the late 80s, you had Vlade Divac who played 9 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers who probably could have gone unnoticed on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and most recent beards that stay in our heads is the unique Muttonchops from Cavalier  Baron Davis who could pose as a dead ringer for rapper Rick Ross or the Gasol brothers Pau and Marc who seem to worry as much about their appearance as Will Smith and Jada Pinket aren´t worrying about their marriage having any riffs. Currently with the German national basketball team, new Fraport Skyliner Joe Herber is sporting a full fuzz which he had already demonstrated last season with The Walter Tigers Tuebingen.

Wearing a beard last season in Tuebingen might not have been so different since Kenny Wiliams also looked like a model for men only hair care products. “I had played against Joe in the NCAA tournament when we were both in school, he had much longer hair and a beard when I saw him in Tubingen. He never said why he wears a beard, I think he just goes with the flow. There were no jokes, we had a team full of beards”, joked ex teammate Dane Watts. This season Herber may have a problem finding some beard companion with the Fraport Skyliners unless he persuades Marius Nolte to join him who always seems good for a laugh.

Herber will be starting his 6th season as a professional. He played at W.Virginia (NCAA) from 2002-2006 where he played a total of 128 games and also with ex beko BBl players Mike Gansey and Frank Young. His best statistical season was his senior year where he played 33 games: 9.3ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.4apg, 1.0spg, FG: 40.6%, 3PT: 25.4%, FT: 79.2%. He had success with the team reaching the Big East Tournament Final and NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2005 and the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006. He wasn´t only a guy that spent all his free time in the weight room, but also took his studies very seriously as he studied political science and was an academic All American. He is a very well educated German and wont be caught reading a comic book on a road trip. “I just remember him always reading the newspaper on the long bus rides. Most guys listen to ipods or watch movies but he was usually reading up some current events or a book”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm forward Dane Watts. After West Virginia, he returned back to Germany and was gobbled up from Alba Berlin. It seemed like he was living in a basketball dream world playing together with ex NBA player William Avery, Sharrod Ford and Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, but his new home would soon be converted into a nightmare as he had 3 ACL injuries limiting him to only 63 games in three seasons.

However, the German from Darmstadt never gave up and continued to battle back in rehab and was able to come back and join the Walter Tigers Tuebingen in February 2010. Last season, he was able to play his first full season in ages playing 34 games: 6.6ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 66.7%. Herber is a big Shooting guard that is a great three point shooter with a strong body. He scores the most of his points from the perimeter, but his bulk allow him to battle inside, and this is why he’s a good rebounder too. He defends well,  because he’s got a great knowledge of the game.  Last season he scored in double figures seven times and one of his stronger games was against the Gloria Giants Duesseldorf where he produced 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists, but he doesn´t need to score in double figures in every game as his worth is seen in other areas. “He was a guy that played for the team and always brought defensive intensity to the wing position”, added ex Creighton player Dane Watts.

Herber is also back with the German national team where he had played from 2004-2008. This summer Herber started slowly, but since the Super Cup in Bamberg, he has been in the starting lineup playing along side future NBA  Hall of famer Dirk Nowitzki and block sensation Chris Kaman. At the European championships in Lithuania, Herber has stepped up playing his solid aggressive defense and hit a big shot against Italy. With the vast scoring power from both NBA players, Herber can concentrate on other important areas on the court. Comparing Herber to ex Los Angeles Lakers Kurt Rambis who won 4 NBA titles and  wore hideous glasses in the 80s, but stayed clear from the facial hair in the look department would be sort of an insult, but both players seem to be in the same type of situation on the court as Rambis was in the starting line up at times with guys like Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Byron Scott and like Herber  not necessarily on the court to score in bunches. “ I am sure that Bauermann respects what he brings to the team, and he is going to make the right plays and passes to set up the stars like Dirk and Kaman. Joe can also score if the defense starts to forget about him”, warned Dane Watts. Watts saw Herber in practice every day last season and knows why the Herber defense is so successful.” It is his effort. You can tell that he is giving his all to stop his man from scoring. He is also helping other guys out with team defense”, commented ex EnBW Ludwigsburg forward Dane Watts.

Herber starts a new adventure after the European championships in Lithuania as he will start his first season with the Fraport Skyliners. Frankfurt isn´t foreign terrain to him as he grew up south of Frankfurt and played with TV Langen from 1999-2002. He will miss most of the pre season, but should return to Frankfurt after the European championships with much experience and a number of Dirk Nowitzki stories to keep Marius Nolte entertained on bus trips. Herber has the right combination of skill on the court and a healthy and strong mentality to make the next step in Frankfurt. “I believe he can make the next step, he takes care of himself and is a true professional. The Fraport Skyliners are very lucky to have him”, smiled Dane Watts. Watts is playing his fourth season in the Beko BBl and continues to have a love affair with the pretty Schwabenland or he simply can´t  get enough of the tasty Spaetzle since he has played in Ludwigsburg, Tuebingen and now will play in Ulm. He will remember Joe Herber with a twinkle in his eyes. “I always enjoyed learning new exercises from Joe. We had a mutual interest in that area. The play of the year was a transition assist from myself to a cutting Joe Herber for the FLUSH! Never thought I would see the day, but he got somebody running under the rim when he dunked it”, joked Dane Watts. Herber looks like he could be the son of American TV icon Grizzley Adams who wore a bushy Santa Claus type of beard and lived with a bear in the wilderness. “I could imagine Joe surviving in the wilderness, he went to West Virginia and looks like a true mountaineer. Strikes me as the kind of guy who enjoys camping for vacation, not nice resorts. You should ask him how his road trip this summer went”, laughed Dane Watts. With or without the beard come October 2011, Herber will be ready for the Beko BBL wilderness on the court.

One comment

  1. “If you have Juice playing for you-it will be the best season ever! “Says a long time Northwestern fan. He is the real deal. A man of character and ability. I have watched him for three years. It you want excitement-he is your man. And you just got to love him.

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