There was an instance in Danilo Barthel´s third season with the Fraport Skyliners where a rumor was leaked that the big man who had found a liking to facial hair in his tenure with Frankfurt was not remotely amused by having any kind of confrontation with the insect that has eight legs and at times franticly moves about as nervously as a Paris Hilton does at home in her walk through closet when she doesn´t find the matching outfit for her nightly engagement at some kind of fundraiser. Even if one would have to be very unlucky to meet a tarantula in the Nord west centrum mall where Barthel lived during his 5 year tenure, the little creature surely could of found bondage to the German´s hairy beard. Sometime in the 2013-2014 season, the 207cm forward who has made dunking a normal daily occurrence as much as it is for an Anthony Davis to get a double double found a spider in his mail box, but it soon was revealed that it was a fake rubber spider and the secret of his dislike for the quick runners was slowly lifted. Who the prankster was that placed the spider in the mail box of Barthel was never revealed, but I would have bet my special George Gervin autograph on prankster Jacob Burtschi or the silent and innocent looking Johannes Voigtmann. One thing that Barthel was not scared to present was his sharp and improving basketball skills on the court as he continued to develop since coming to Frankfurt in 2011. Barthel may be the first guy that will be half way to Siberia by the sight of a spider before a Quantez Roberton can be on the break from Frankfurt to Auburn, but if Beko BBL teams came upon the idea to place a spider on a rim to keep Barthel away, they better think twice, because despite his fear of the little creature, the rim is the best friend of the German on the court. That is probably the only place where Barthel will forget how disgusting a spider really is because nothing in safe around the rim when the 25 year old German is on flight. Barthel has made some crashing dunks over his years as he continues his career with FC Bayern Munich this season, but before he could sign on the dotted line and be able to meet Uli Hoeness on a more regular basis and pick his brain about FC Bayern Munich basketball, one has to remember that there was a reason why he was able to move to the charming city of Munich and woo fans there with his skills and that was his development with the Fraport Skyliners from 2011-2016.
Since he came to the Fraport Skyliners in the 2011-2012 season nothing seems to have changed with the demeanor of Danilo Barthel even now with top German club FC Bayern Munich as he is still the calm quiet big man from Heidelberg that at times can glide past you in a hall way as if he was trying to avoid his house doctor from getting scolded for not having made that next checkup, but his appearance in no way is any disrespect, but just how he is. He may still come over as reserved as a person, but his game is anything but restrained, but became a real force on the court and a few years ago was among young Germans as one of the best candidates of making the big breakthrough as according to ex top Beko BBL rebounder Larry Gordon from ex team Phoenix Hagen. As a rookie in the 2011-2012 season, he had to play for Muli Katzurin who wasn´t known for giving young Germans a chance as he had coached Alba Berlin to the 2011 Beko BBL final without ever really letting German national players Lucca Staiger get positioned in the corner to have fans chant “bombs away” or letting Andreas Seiferth get nasty in the paint. However on a cool rainy autumn day in Tubingen in October 2011, Katzurin put Barthel into cold water as the club was hampered with injuries and attitude problems as his eight points were less remembered than ex NBA player Jermario Davidson sitting at the end of the bench having conversations with his mobile phone. “I was very surprised. I played little minutes in the preseason and then to come in and score so well was like a dream for me”, stressed Danilo Barthel. In his first year the Heidelberg native played 13 Beko BBL games and averaged a very respectable 8,33 minutes per game averaging 2,8ppg and 1,1rpg. It wasn´t simple getting ample playing time that season as four man Jermario Davidson was the work horse of the team and one of the main factors why the team almost made the playoffs. As a rookie, he got valuable experience in Eurocup play playing four games and continued to be able to work on his game in the German Pro B playing 16 games averaging 13.1ppg, 7.2rpg, 2.7apg, Blocks-4(1.6bpg), FGP: 57.4%, 3PT: 22.7%, FT: 71.4%. Having current NBA player Jon Leuer as a teammate for three months helped his game mature as well at the start. “Playing against such a strong offensive player like Jon Leuer that is so versatile really helped my game. My 1-1 defense was helped with his play. I also remembered some of his spin moves to incorporate into my game”, stressed Danilo Barthel.
In his second season with the Fraport Skyliners, management made it clear early with the arrival of further German wunder kids Konstantin Klein and Johannes Voigtmann that they would go a totally new route by taking advantage of the 6-6 rule and giving young Germans playing time. The concept of signing talented Americans and reaching the playoffs was first put on hold as rebuilding and looking to the future was first on the agenda. In the 2012-2013 season, Muli Katzurin noticed the talent level of the Germans and gave them minutes. The role of Barthel increased from his rookie season as he played 30 games and averaged 17,3 minutes per game. Just like in his rookie season he had a another work horse in front of him with Zach Peacock, but what better way than to learn from him the way he did from Davidson the year before. In the 2012-2013 season, Barthel averaged 4.3ppg, 2.9rpg. He scored in double figures four times with 15 points against Bayreuth being his best points effort In his second season in Frankfurt. He also found a new relationship to the rim besides just hitting shots, but getting a better feel for what they feel like and how soothing a dunk is when one rams the ball through the netting with authority. His dunking breakthrough came in the first month in a home game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn where he flew through the air making a fierce penetrating two handed dunk over Patrick Ewing junior and Johannes Wolfarth-Bottermann feeling the breeze of the German as he was too late on transition defense. That dunk seemed like that special basketball release for him. From then on dunking had become a big part of his basketball repertoire. If you were to have told NBA legend Larry Bird that he could jump, one would have been lying, because he grabbed rebounds more through effort than athletic ability and that white men can´t jump is more of a cliché, because Danilo Barthel could star in his own movie called White men can jump. He proved that he was given that special jumping ability, He continued to play in the Pro B in his second season getting extra game time practice as well playing 12 games and averaging 12.7ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.3apg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 67.7%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 75.6%. He ended the season with massive back problems, but worked hard over the summer and came into this season fit.
Barthel who´s favorite player is Dwight Howard and likes to mold his game around 63 point man Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks had his real BBL break out season in 2013-2014 playing 34 games averaging 11.3ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 57.4%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 78.4%; That season, ex Toronto Raptors assistant coach Gordon Herbert had given the big German three of Voigtmann, Klein and Barthel more responsibility and were inserted into the starting lineup each weekend. All three were averaging plus 20 minutes per game. If one had predicted this the season before that this could happen, many might not have thought it happening so quickly, but a lot of the credit goes to the Skyliner coaches of Gordon Herbert, Klaus Perwass and Eric Detlef who put in countless hours of teaching the kids how to get better. A big reason for his breakthrough season is the immense confidence that Gordon Herbert had given the German. Barthel showed more and more that season his unending killer instinct to want to get to the bucket whenever possible and just finish off the play with a monster dunk. However a criticism in his game that season at times had been his hesitation of taking the three ball. From a span from December first until January fifth, the German was 0/10 in six games including two games where he didn´t even attempt a three pointer. But in the next two games, he took on more responsibility from downtown and with the absence of injured Andrew Rautins and Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi, Barthel had to take more of the bulk of the shooting as he was 5/9 in two games making three against Alba Berlin and two in Artland. His passing gets underestimated, but there isn´t a better passing combination of four and five men in the Beko BBL than with Johannes Voigtmann and Barthel as he had improved his passing with the daily practice with the German center. He worked on his one on one defense which improved from the previous season as blocks became more of a standard in each game for him. His mobility is a strong suit which has helped him mature better the last years on the defensive end. There was a span in his third season where he registered five blocks in four games and was getting less fouls as his timing and IQ on one on one defense continued to improve. His ex coach Thorsten Daume at USC Heidelberg always preached to give all he has in every minute on the floor and that is what Barthel has always done as he is that relentless fighter that never gives up and that is exactly what every coach wants from his player. He made his debut at the 2014 beko BBL allstar game in Bonn and held his own scoring eight points and showing his usual aggressive play and blocked ex Euroleague player David Logan. 1993 German European champion Henning Harnisch who won just about everything with Leverkusen in the 90s and was general manager of Alba Berlin had nothing but praise for Barthel after examining his play in Bonn at the Beko BBL allstar game.
Before starting the 2014-2015 season with the Fraport Skyliners, Barthel had the huge opportunity to play NBA Summer league with the Miami Heat in Orlando and Las Vegas. This was a grand opportunity to show his skills and test himself against the other rising stars of the world. He played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando with Miami playing 4 games averaging 4.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.0apg, 0.5spg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 31.6%, 3PT: 9.1%, FT: 75%. He then moved west to Las Vegas with Miami and played 6 games averaging 4.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 39.1%, 3PT: 20%, FT: 69.2%. He had some stiff competition with guys like Larry Drew, James Ennis, Shabazz Napier or Justin Hamilton fighting for minutes, but he held his own and did the most out of minutes mixing it up from outside and as well as showing his game inside which had some GM heads turn in both locations. As time flies so does one´s memory, but current Brooklyn Net Justin Hamilton remembered who Barthel was even a year and a half after they were shortly teammates. “I remember Danilo having a very good shot and being very athletic for his size. He impressed the Miami Heat very much. He showed up and turned heads at the NBA Summer League. I didn´t have much conversations with Danilo. In the Summer League you get thrown together for a couple of weeks and it´s hard building relationships. I remember him telling me where he was from and where he played. He was a very good guy. He was very competitive and spirited”, stressed Justin Hamilton. Another guy that was also his teammate was Larry Drew II who currently plays for Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania-LKL) couldn´t quite recall his time with the German. Recently before a Champions League game in Oldenburg, the American had to think hard and long when hearing the name Danilo Barthel completely blanking his memory. “Honestly I don´t remember him. I would have to see his face. He must have been very skilled to have been invited by the Miami Heat”, stressed Larry drew II. Barthel returned back to Germany and in the 2014-2015 season and played 30 games: 9.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 74.1%; EuroChallenge: 10 games: 10.4ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 81.0%. In the BBL he scored in double figures 12 times and had two double doubles and in the Eurochallenge scored in double figures in seven games. He had a serious injury that kept him out for two months at the start of 2015 and when he came back at the end of March put up some solid games in the BBL, but had misfortune in the Eurochallenge semi-final where Frankfurt met a very hungry and energy driven French team Naterre who had a superb day put up the big goose egg in 14 minutes. All in all the injury hindered his development a bit. At the end of the season he had racked up another BBL allstar game appearance and made the Eurochallenge Top 4. In his last season, Barthel won his first professional title with the Fiba Europe Cup and played 32 BBL games averaging 9.6ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 68.3%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 83.8%; and in the FIBA Europe Cup played 14 games averaging 8.6ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 78.6%. He had another injury at the start of 2016 that kept him out for a month, but overall it was another solid season for him. In the BBL he scored in double figures 17 times and in the Fiba Europe Cup scored in double figures five times. He probably could of improved his scoring and rebounding tremendously in his last two seasons with the Fraport Skyliners, but the club had added the perfect parts for success. Two seasons ago, the trio of Justin Cobbs, Sean Armand and Aaron Doornekamp combined for much points and last season Jordan Theodore and Aaron Doornekamp supplied much fire power. The German twin towers of Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtmann obviously were hindered more in their production. The Fraport Skyliners played team basketball and stats were put on the back burner. Barthel became more of an inside animal going to places where most wouldn´t want to venture to. How many times Barthel got elbowed in the face, got his nose rearranged or had traces of a bloody nose are hard to pinpoint, but his mom who sat a few rows up behind the Frankfurt bench probably had a better recollection of her son´s trauma under the hoop. Barthel´s outside shot is still a work in progress, but his inside game definitely developed further in his last two seasons in Frankfurt. After winning the Fiba Europe Cup and standing high and mighty on the balcony of the Frankfurt council house during the celebrations, a big ugly spider could of found a new home on the trophy and Barthel may have forgot his spider phobia for at least a moment while holding the shiny silver award.
This season Barthel has moved on to FC Bayern Munich and has become part of a team that has a 12 man roster where each guy could be a starter for any other BBL team. He can be proud to call guys like Bryce Taylor, Maxi Kleber, Devin Booker, ex NBA player Nick Johnson and ex Bamberg sniper Anton Gavel his teammates. It is obvious that when you are on a team like this, minutes will be as desired by each guy as is that 5th Super Bowl ring that Tom Brady is striving for to finally be called the greatest quarter back of all-time. Even if some may call having German Maxi Kleber as his main competitor at the position four a tough pill to swallow, having battles in practice each day will make the German only better. So far this season, Barthel is averaging 15,6 minutes per game, 8,2ppg, 2,6rpg, 1,3apg and shooting 33,3% from outside. He has scored in double figures in four games and netted 15 points against Tuebingen and 14 points against Wurzburg. In Eurocup action is averaging 7,6ppg, 4,1rpg and 1,3apg. Barthel really has only two main goals on his mind which is winning to sooth the heart of Uli Hoeness and being as effective as possible in his minutes which will keep head coach Aleksandar Djordevic ready to keep penciling him in. FC Bayern Munich is definitely on paper and in their play so far in the BBL an upgrade from last season, but getting by Bamberg will be a giant hurdle and challenge. But Barthel knows that the season won´t really start until May 2017. The sky is still the limit for Barthel at the age of 25 as his time with FC Bayern Munich will help him further in his development. When Barthel returns back to the Fraport arena on Sunday, he will surely take a look up at the rafters for a moment and look at the 2016 Fiba Europe cup banner and reflect on the closing moments in Chalon as the buzzer sounded and teammate Jordan Theodore took the ball and threw the ball to space and the German let out a fierce roar after the title win like a black bear in Colorado who needs his daily fish rations. Jacob Burtschi might not be around as a possible prankster this season but Barthel may just have to check his space in the visiting locker room especially closely on Sunday just in case a Quantez Robertson didn´t enter early and place something very hairy and undesirable there for him to meet.