Omari Knox is a 27 year old 188cm guard from Brooklyn, New York that is starting his fifth professional seasona nd first with the Rhein Stars Koeln (Germany-Regionalliga). He started his basketball career with Bloomfield (NCAA2). In 2009, he started his basketball career in Germany with TSV Dachau Spurs (Germany-Regionalliga) where he played until 2014 playinga total of 99 games and last season played 24 games: 27.5ppg, 9.5rpg, 4.2apg, 2.6spg, FGP: 52.0%, 3Pts: 34.7%, FT: 81.0%. In the last three seasons he averaged 26ppg. He spoke to German Hoops about his new team and game against FC Bayern Munich in Cologne.
Omari thanks for talking to German Hoops. How exciting have the last five days been? You arrived in Cologne at the start of the week and 5 days later you played against the most famous German sports team FC Bayern Munich. How did the last days feel for you?
The last few days have been really exciting. Everyone had been talking about the upcoming game against FC Bayern and preparing for it. All of the talk and anticipation definitely made me anxious to play. It was an awesome experience to play against last year’s German champion in front of a huge home crowd.
You were one of the top players in the German Regionaliga the last three years for TSV Dachau Spurs averaging 26 points a game. I guess you didn´t have to think long about signing on the dotted line. Even though you are still in the Regionaliga, I bet it feels like you are playing for a club in a much higher league?
Yes, I definitely wanted to play in a higher league this season. Once I heard that we would be playing against FC Bayern, I realized that this was not the average Regionaliga club and I wanted to be here.
Recently you played your first pre season game against FC Bayern Munich losing 97-60. Back in college you played home games for Bloomfield (NCAA2) in a small gym seating 1000 people. The Laxness arena holds 20,000 people. There were about 6000 people there, but all in all was this the biggest arena you have ever played in and how did you like the atmosphere?
This was definitely the largest crowd I’ve ever played in front of in my career. There was a great atmosphere. The fans were great and they had a lot of energy. It seemed like they were up on their feet until the final buzzer sounded.
When you look back at this result, what early impression do you have of the RheinStars Cologne. You played against the best German basketball team with mostly young German players and one veteran German Bernd Kruel. Marian Petric didn´t play and the only other veteran was new player Gytas Pakalniskis who arrived that morning. I think the team can be very proud of this result or not?
We have a very talented team with a variety of experienced players as well as talented youngsters. I was proud of the way that everyone fought the entire game. I think we can definitely be proud of this result. FC Bayern has beaten teams in their league just as bad, so I am not too disappointed with the 97-60 end result.
How tough was the adjustment from Regionaliga style of play going against FC Bayern Munich?You had 10 points, but registered seven turnovers. What was the toughest thing you had to adjust to?
The major adjustment for me was dealing with the size and quickness of the players at that level. The toughest thing when playing against FC Bayern was their pressure defense. Not so much, on the ball as away from the ball. Their size and length made it difficult to make the simple wing/post entry pass, or ball reversal to run our offense.
Dachau is only about 30 kilometers away from Munich. Did you go to the Audi Dome the last few years to watch some games and against which guard Tyrese Rice or Malcolm Delaney do you think could you control best in a game if you ever were to compete against each other?
Yes, I’ve been to quite a few games at the Audi Dome the last few seasons. I’ve seen both Tyrese Rice and Malcolm Delaney play for FC Bayern, as well as in college. If we ever matched up. I think I would contain Delaney better.
The RheinStars Cologne have many very talented young German players. What is your early impression of the German core of players. Which German player impressed you the most on your team out on the court against FC Bayern Munich?
I think this a very talented group of guys. I was impressed by all of my teammates’ efforts against FC Bayern. The two players who stood out the most were Lennart Steffen and Tim Van der Velde.
You are on a team of young Germans and what else besides supplying massive scoring and leadership will be your role on the team?
Setting the tone defensively will be a major role for me this season. If we want to win the league championship then we’ll have to be able to defend and rebound the ball and these are areas where I believe I can really help.
It is obvious you can score and rebound very well at 188cm having averaged 9,5rpg in the last two seasons in the Regionaliga. However what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away?
A hidden strength in my game that doesn’t always get noticed right away is my ability to make key plays when the game is close. Whether it be: a basket, an assist, a defensive stop, a deflection, or an offensive charge.
You played the last four years for TSV Dachau Spurs putting up massive stats. Was there ever a chance to move up to a better league or even move to a different country? Was there any particular reason why you played 4 years for the same team?
I had some teams interested in the Pro B. At the time, I had refused offers because the money wasn’t what I had hoped it would be at a higher level. I also had a few opportunities to play in France but I have to admit was a bit nervous about changing countries after getting used to playing in Germany. Each season, I decided to wait a few months to see which higher league teams in Germany would contact me to play for them before signing back to Dachau. I knew I was always welcomed to play in Dachau so when I didn’t receive an offer I liked I decided to return.
You were the CACC Player of the Year in 2009 at Bloomfield(NCAA2) and a CACC Tournament Finalist in 2009. When looking back at your senior season what was missing from the team winning it all?
My final game as a college senior, I played arguably one of the worst games of my career. I finished with 0 points, 13 rebounds, and a few assists and steals. Some might say that isn’t a terrible game. However, I had been the leading scorer of the league as well as the Player of the Year. In that game I shot 0-10FG. It’s tough to say, but I believe if I had a better performance we would have won it all that year.
You played your first two professional season with Anthony Pettaway who has gone to have a very solid career having played in Mexico and other teams in Germany and now will play for the Windsor Express in Canada. You both put up big stats, but how important was it having him as a teammate when you were a rookie? You both were rookies and how did you guys make each other better on the court?
Playing with Anthony was a really good experience. As rookies we were able to impact the rest of the guys with the way challenged each other to work harder and compete.
If you had the choice to share a cafe table with native Brooklyn players Stephon Marbury, Vinnie Johnson or John Salley who would you chose to talk basketball?
I would probably choose Stephon Marbury mainly because I grew up watching him play. He was definitely an inspiration for me as a Brooklyn guard.
Where will the NBA journey of the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets end this season?
I’ve been a die-hard Knicks fan all of my life but I’ve also liked the Nets as well. Especially in the years of Jason Kidd. With the move to Brooklyn I’ve grown to like them even more. I think the Knicks will make the playoffs and the Nets won’t.
What was the coolist ALS ice bucket challenge that you saw this summer?
I think James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers had the coolest/craziest ALS Ice bucket challenge I’ve seen this summer.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The last DVD movie I’ve seen was The Hunger Games:Catching Fire.
Thanks Omari for the chat