Basketball times haven´t been easy in the last year in Hagen. First the club had to step down from the EsyCredit BBL in December on account of bankruptcy, but have recovered and are playing in the German Pro A again, on September 21st long time Phoenix Hagen fan Marco Schmitz who was a walking basketball dictionary had to succumb to a long battle against cancer and this morning the club gave the sad announcement that their head coach Matthias Grothe had lost the battle against Lymphoma. The German was in his first season as head coach of Phoenix Hagen, but couldn´t overtake the duties yet this season on account of his fight against Lymphoma that had put him into the hands of medical care since the start of 2017. It looked like he could take over the reigns at the start of the 2017-2018 season in September for Phoenix Hagen as his treatment was running along smoothly in the first eight months. However suddenly his recovery took a set back and instead of be able to leave the hospital had to remain. The set back struck everyone involved very hard and in respect to him and his family the information concerning his further treatment period in the hospital remained very scarce the last two monhs. The club like everyone else in basketball Germany are shocked with his death and the club kept their first public statement short over their Face Book page. “Unfortunately we have to announce that our head coach Matthias Grothe passed away this morning. For this reason the game between Phoenix Hagen and Rasta Vechta will be canceled. We are speechless and in our thoughts with Matthias family and friends”.
Grothe was born on May 16th, 1978 and started his basketball career at TUS Iserlohn. He played with all the youth teams of the club and also played with German youth national teams and was a teammate in the U-22 team with Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki. From 1998-2002 he played 116 BBL games for Brandt Hagen. He then returned back to his old team Iserlohn for two seasons and just dominated the second Bundesliga as he averaged 25.7ppg, 10.2rpg, 3.5apg in the 2003-2004 season. In 2004 he returned back to Hagen and played with Phoenix Hagen until his retirement in 2010. He showed his consistency by playing 150 games in a row scoring 2,519 points and helped the team move up to the BBL in 2009. He dominated the German second Bundesliga like no other from 2004-2007 averaging 22.9ppg, 6.6rpg, 3.7apg,: 21.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3 apg and 18.2ppg, 5.5rpg, 3.6apg in that time. He was rewarded with playing his last professional season in the BBL and his number 9 jersey was retired at the conclusion of the season.
The German didn´t waste anytime after his retirement and right away decided to get into coaching and took over Regionaliga team Iserlohn in the 2010-2011 season going back to his roots and also that summer got his first coaching experience as an assistant at the U-20 European championships inCroatia. It took him only four years to move up to the Pro B. In the Pro B, Grothe and Iserlohn were able to make an impact right away winning the Pro B south regular season in 2015 and 2016 losing in the playoffs in the semi-finals and quarterfinals. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma in November 2016, but was still able to coach Iserlohn for a third Pro B season. His ex player Terrell Harris who plays in Denmark this season was shocked of the news. “A sad sad day. Matthias was a great coach on the court, who wanted the best for his players. Personally he pushed me to the limits and I will always remember what he taught me. He was even a better person off the court. Family first guy. My condolences goes to his family. Wow life is unpredictable..makes you appreciate the small things”, stressed Terrell Harris.Grothe is a guy that you just had to love as a player, coach and person. He was a big man with teddy bear qualities and probably the best hugger a daughter could ever have. He was also a guy that knew when to be comical and had so many talents in his life. For instance he played in two movies concerning basketball called Hang Time and a great documentary about the team he coached Phoenix Hagen, but when he was a player describing the 2009-2010 season called “Phoenix in der Asche”. His ex teammate Michael Jordan who like him got into the coaching ranks and is an assistant at Colgate(NCAA) was shocked of the tragedy. “Matthias was a great competitor as well as a great teammate. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to have him and his family in my life. He will truly be missed”, stressed Michael Jordan. Matthias was simply a great human being who had the kind of charachter that many would love to have. He will be dearly missed and forever be talked about.