Chris Hortman is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that played this season with the EN Baskets Schwelm averaging 18,6ppg, 7,7rpg and 3,9apg. Last season he played for the TVI Basketball SWAP Ballers Ibbenbueren (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 26 games: Score-1(25.0ppg), 9.7rpg, 5.1apg, 2.9spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 76.9%. He got vast experience in the states before turning professional playing at various schools like Milwaukee Area Tech JC (JUCO), Missouri Valley (NAIA), Wisc.-Stout (NCAA3) where as a senior he played 27 games averaging 14.7ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 85.5%. He also played with the Gold Coast Rollers (Australia-SBL) in 2014 averaging 28,6ppg. He spoke to German Hoops about his current season with the EN Baskets Schwelm and dismissal from the team.
Chris thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Hey Miles, thanks for having me. I’m currently in Germany and basketball life is teaching me one of its many lessons.
The EN Baskets Schwelm have released you, but you asked for your release. How disappointed are you by this decision and how it came about?
Yes. I am very disappointed about having to make this decision. A lot is put into a season. Tons of hard work. Hours in the gym. Sacrificed time, that you just can’t get back and to have the season for me to be ended, the way it all happened was just tough.
Before we talk about your situation let´s rewind back a bit. The season started off so well with 6 wins and everyone was raving about the EN Baskets Schwelm. Now the team and since then are 3-8. If someone had told you that the club would have such a radical turnaround after the win against FC Bayern Munich what would you have thought?
The start we had was great, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted the drastic change of the team. Unless they also predicted I would get injured.
I remember how down you were after the loss in Rhondorf where you got hurt. It was the second loss in a row. Did you have a feeling then that the fortunes of the club and you would turn drastically then?
Yes. After that game I was very down because I already knew. Days before the game I got hurt in practice. Just had the strangest pain in my leg, so I asked to see a doctor. I was given an x-ray and was told that I was okay to play in the game, but during this game it was clear I no longer had the same explosion or lateral movement. I personally knew something was wrong. I asked for a MRI after the game and the next day I learned I tore my meniscus.
You then were injured and missed 5 games where the club went 2-3 without you and you came back and won against Dresden with your services. Since then the team has lost two of three games where you played two games. Would it be fair to say that with a healthy Chris Hortman this team would be somewhere totally different in the standings?
I think it’s completely fair to say that. With the team missing scoring and rebounding. The things that I contribute to the team, they would be in a different standing.
Now let´s talk about your situation. You were injured were rehabbing, but didn´t feel that you were 100% ready to play. However, you played again. Did the club force you to play?
It was a very tough situation. The team had begun to lose several games in a row. The management became very needy to get back to the winning side. The situation turned from me waiting until I was 100% healthy to play, to me playing and not being 100% healed. This is where me and the club had difference of opinion.
You state the club has tarnished your reputation by questioning your character. Please describe what kind of experience you have had being harassed and just not being treated right and the way a player under contract should be treated?Was it really a living hell?
Simply put, making false statements pertaining to me. It came to a point where I no longer felt welcomed, very simple things became complicated and I knew I had to do what was best for me.
Do you feel that a middle ground could have been found where both sides would have been satisfied? They wanted you to play and you felt you weren´t ready yet. Could you have been ready say by February had you not played the three games during your injury period.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for a middle to be reached. The team continued down the struggling path without me but the pain in my leg had not gone away and was starting to get worse. I’m not sure when I would have been ready but I think if we stayed with the advice of the team’s physical therapist and not followed the words of management, I would have eventually reached 100%.
It is never good to point fingers and you are professional enough not to, but what has disappointed you most during the last few months?
For me the entire situation has been a tough one but the most disappointing part has been me having to sit and watch my team struggle. Even with the 3 games I came back to play, it was clear I wasn’t 100%. It was just not being able to help during a time of need and desperation.
Your still a young player that is developing and want to continue to play in the future. What have you learned from this experience that will help you down the road should you be confronted by this again?
Well the main thing I’ve learned is to not get hurt!! But the main thing I’ve learned is to care for your body. Don’t expect others to care, but to take matters into your own hands and ensure you’re doing everything to protect your future.
The club is still in the playoff race, but where will the journey of the team go this season? Do you feel like they will be to turn it around and be a force in the playoffs?
Anything is possible. They need one more win to make the playoffs and once you are there anything can happen. I just wish them the best.
You have some very nice teammates and a lot of veterans. How did they help you cope with your situation?
The teammates that I talked to just gave me their opinion on how they would handle the situation if they were in my shoes, I took it all in and then made my decision.
What was your nicest experience that you had wearing the jersey of the EN Baskets Schwelm? You had very good stats through 11 games averaging 18,6ppg, 7,7rpg and 3,9apg. The stats are misleading if one didn´t know you were playing hurt in the last three games. How content were you with your game? You must have been content with the first 6 games as you were leading the team to wins.
Best time in the jersey had to be the comeback win against Munich, but the first few games were great. I was excited because I knew I made a lot of mistakes and had plenty room for improvement but was also able to get good stats.
What is the next step for Chris Hortman. Do you feel like you still have a future in Germany as a player or might you go elsewhere and give it a try?
Next task for me is to completely heal my leg. My health is my most valued goal. Once that is complete I definitely believe there is a future for me in Germany. I am open for other markets, but I do believe that I’ve showed that I can be a player in the German basketball community.
What is your opinion of Lavar planning a new league and can his sons make the NBA one day?
Lavar is a genius. He’s done for his kids a lot more than my father ever helped me with. So, I hope he can do everything he says for his sons.
Where will the Tom Brady stand as the best player of all-time in sports if he wins a sixth Super Bowl
For me Tom Brady is the most accomplished QB ever.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Chris for the chat.