Matt Gibson is a 32 year old 195cm forward from Oklahoma that will be starting his ninth professional season and first in Germany with the Nuernberg Falcons BC (Germany-ProA). Last season he played with Vendee Challans Basket (France-NM1) playing 22 games averaging 9.0ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 57.5%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 63.5%. He has played in countries like Romania, Venezuela, Belgum. Mexico, Finland and Hungry. He played college ball at Hawaii (NCAA) and as a senior played 25 games averaging 17.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.8apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 46.6%, 3Pts: 30.9%, FT: 80.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball earlier this summer.
Matt thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer going?
I am in Oklahoma for the moment. I haven’t been home very much the past few years so I am just enjoying the time I get with friends and Family.
One could really call you a basketball world traveler. You recently completed your 8th professional season and in this time you have played for 10 teams in six countries. Your 32 years old that just seems to love to move around. Has this lifestyle gotten harder with Age?
Yes it does get a bit older with age. But I love to travel and I love to be involved in the game of basketball. And now I am looking forward to experiencing both in Germany.
Not only did you start your professional career two years earlier than your good buddy Jacob Burtschi, but are still playing as he retired in 2016. Was it so difficult to infect him with your basketball world traveler gene to continue to Play?
Ha. Jacob Burtschi I have known since I was 10 years old. His career and my career have taken very different but very same paths. I saw him this summer and he told me to enjoy it as long as I can.
This will be your first time playing for a German organization called the Nuernberg Falcons BC (Germany-ProA). What were the main reasons for you coming to extend your career in Germany?
I have always been interested in playing in Germany. I have played against teams in BBL and Pro A but never during a season. I have heard only good things about both leagues and the country. Another part of my decision is because my long time girlfriend Anni Makitalo signed early this summer with TH Wohnbau Angels. I did speak with Dan Oppland, and Josh Young who were both very helpful in my decision.
What do you know about the country Germany and it´s basketball. Do you have any other friends playing basketball here?
I visited Berlin in the summer of 2014 and Stuttgart in 2016 so I am not completely a stranger to Germany. I have enjoyed very much both visits and I am looking forward to getting the full experience this season in Nurnberg. And yes I have very long list of basketball brothers who played here before me and some will still be here.
Guys Like Josh Young and Burtschi all played here and come from your area in Oklahoma. You will be playing for one of the best German coaches in Germany that is great with developing young German talent. Do you see yourself being a type of mentor for the younger Players?
I am very happy for the chance to work with coach Ralph. I have heard about his success with young players and I am happy to be apart of this organization. And yes I believe that coach would expect some kind of role like this for me.
You will be turning 33 years old this season and are a guy that can fill up the stats sheet. At times in your career you were a scorer and playmaker for your teams. What part of your offensive game will help your new team the most?
Since this will be my first time in Germany I will need to get a feel for the league because every league in every country has its own way and style. I will try to use my experience and play making ability to create for my teammates and take responsibility to score when its needed in the beginning. Adjustments always happen over the course of the season.
You have never won a professional title. Is this the main thing that is still driving you to play today?
Yes of course I am still chasing the dream of a championship but also I enjoy playing and experiencing different cultures of basketball. As for France nm1 I am very proud to have the league in my resume . France is a very demanding league. Players on every roster were athletic and physical and played with high energy all season.
You played two seasons for Kouvot Kouvola (Finland-Korisliiga) and ex BBL player Jason Conley. What memories do you have of this very talented player that you will never forget?
I enjoyed all my time in Finland. In Kovout I learned a lot about reading the game under coach Jyri Lehtonen. I played with Coop Conley two different times in Finland and both times was an enjoyable experience. Coop could ball. But more important he was always a good leader and teammate on the court. And congrats to a good player on a good career.
After a strong rookie season in Europe in Romania, you then moved to Lappeenranta NMKY (Finland-Korisliiga) where you played 22 games averaging 15.4ppg, 4.8rpg, Assists-4(3.7apg), Steals-1(3.1spg), FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 80.2%. You were able to make the next jump at a higher level. How vital was a guy like American Clifton Jones who was playing his 11th season in Finland and knew the ins and outs of everything there?
Clifton Jones is from Hawaii where I went to college so we connected very easy. He definitely showed me a lot out there. He was an easy guy to be around always laughing. He made my time there much more enjoyable.
In January 2010, you suffered a tough injury and returned back to the States and didn´t return back to Europe until 2012 to Finland. In your time back in the States you played semi-pro ball with the Oklahoma Impact. How difficult was this time and did you ever think about hanging it up?
It was definitely a major set back. Very disappointing time because I was young and entering my third year of pro basketball and playing at very good level. I broke my arm and it took six months just for the bones to heal. So I committed to coaching at my old high school Putnam City for a couple seasons while I waited to heal. When i was able to play again almost 10 months later I played for a very good program in Oklahoma called Onpoint Hoops. The semi pro team in this program at the time was Oklahoma Impact. Big thanks to Jonathan Reed for all work that goes into that program.
You played your rookie season with Univ Mobitelco Cluj Napoca (Romania-Div.A) playing EuroChallenge: 2 games: 10pts, 5.0rpg, 2.0apg; Romanian League: 31 games: 16.9ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.5apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 61.5%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT: 80.5%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Oklahoma?
When I first arrived in Romania the obvious things I noticed first language, architecture, and the fashion was all very different. Thankfully I had great Romanian teammates to take care of me. But on the basketball court I knew it was much different because of the physical style and level of IQ you need to play in Europe. There are small rule changes and different calls with traveling also. So adjustments to your game are key for survival.
You played at Hawaii(NCAA) from 2004-2008. How did head coach Riley Wallace prepare and groom you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Riley helped me in numerous ways during my time at UH. He helped my understanding of the game and gave me the chance to become a point guard after being recruited for the 2. He also showed me the tough love I needed to prepare me for how tough things can be playing overseas.
You had your first taste of Germany being teammates with Julian Sensley who grew up in Hawaii.and has had a long career last playing for the Hawaii Swish (ABA). Was there anymore German in him or was he already so americanized at that point?
We all knew he had a German side of the family and that he had a duel citizenship. But thats all.
You played two seasons with Dominic Waters at Hawaii(NCAA), He recently won the Euroleague title with top Greek team Olympiakos. Did you know back then in school that he could go so far as a professional?
Yes Dom and I worked out together during the summer with some other people in the Portland area. He was a true point guard and very good decision maker. Perfect style for Europe and a leader on the court. It was a real battle for me as the older player during the two years he was at UH and congrats to Dom for his newest accomplishment!!
Who was the toughest guy you battled in the NCAA that later reached the NBA?
I played against Sheldon Williams my whole life and that guy was a beast. In college I would say Javelle McGee of the GS Warriors. He was really dominate at Nevada while he was there.
Jacob Burtschi had a very solid professional basketball career playing mostly in Germany. You played with him in high school at Putnam for his dad. What did you respect most from his game and how would you describe him in one sentence concerning his character?
Jacob Burtschi is a warrior plain and simple he always was. He would sacrifice his body by giving hard fouls fighting for boxouts take charges, really anything to help his Team.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Bird, Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Oscar Robertson, Julius Erving,
Where does Lebron stand currently in the never ending debate about who is the greatest of all-time him or Michael Jordan?
It really comes down to titles at this point. Both are the best of their era and both will be remembered in basketball history forever.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
Kevin Garnett career salary was the highest of any player in the NBA. So I would say for now he is the most successful.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
That was an incredible performance in my opinion. It showed how efficiency is so valuable. Players don´t need the ball in their hands all the time to score points and effect the game in a major way.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
Russel Westbrook is a machine. He is 100% energy. I don´t agree with how the NBA gives assists, but doesn´t even matter when you have those kind of numbers. He had an incredible season and deserves the MVP this year. Also I am from Oklahoma so maybe I am a bit bias.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
If his teammates are trying to inflate his stats then that is a team decision and probably has something to do with team chemistry. They want him to break records and succeed. And yes I am sure Russel was going for numbers sometimes but he was still the most valuable player to have on the floor.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Going in style.
Thanks Matt for the chat.