Anish Sharda is a 35 year old 188cm Us/India point guard that is playing his 12th professional season and fifth with ASC Theresianum Mainz (Germany-Regionalliga). He started his basketball career in 2001 with Moorpark JC. He then finished school at University of Mary (NAIA) in 2005 and as a senior averaged 15.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.8apg, 1.8spg, 45.9% FGs, 38.7% 3-pts, 83.2% FTs. He came to Germany in 2007 and played two seasons for ASC Theresianum Mainz (Germany-Regionalliga) helping them move up to the German Pro B in 2008. He then played a season for USC Freiburg and for Hanau from 2010-2014 helping them move from the Regionaliga to the Pro B in 2011. He also played with TV Langen and last season with ASC Theresianum Mainz (Germany-Regionalliga) played 24 games averaging 19.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 4.6apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 37.9%, FT: 86.0%. He recently joined Weller Sports & Entertainment agency and spoke to German Hoops about basketball in January before the second half of the Regionaliga season.
Anish thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you spent the holiday season?
How are you Miles? I’m actually in Los Angeles for a few days with family.
It has been a little more than three years ago where I last interviewed you. Has basketball time flown and do is your passion and game still where it was then or has it changed?
My passion is still the same. I love to compete and love to prepare and of course love to play this game.
You recently got the German citizenship. Was that a difficult process and what advantages will this have for you with basketball down the road?
The process of obtaining the German citizenship was an interesting one. A lot of studying and preparation for the language exam but a fun one. It reminded me of college. I hope it helps as far as opportunities go. Time will tell.
You have played in German places like Hanau, Freiburg and Langen, but what makes Christmas so special in Mainz?
Mainz is special because my wife and her family are from there. But also for me because this is where my career all started.
You started your professional career in Mainz and are back now for a second time and playing your fifth season. Would it be fair to say that Mainz is your true home in Germany now?
I would definitely call Mainz my home away from home. I have family here and the people have helped me tremendously and always treated me well.
You are 35 years old and still playing very strong. How much longer do you still want to play the game that you love?
I would love to play as long as I love the training for it. That’s the part that has actually become more fun but challenging as I have gotten older. The lifting, ball handling , footwork , conditioning and shooting. All of those things to prepare for a season.
Who will retire first you or Ricky Easterling. You are older, but he is one of those guys that probably will play until he is 40 or above.
Ricky will be able to score for the rest of his life. He was born to do it! We will see what happens.
You recently battled against Easterling where he beat you with Saarlouis with 31 points, but you scored 34 points. Would it be fair to say that he has been the greatest Regionalliga player in the last 10 years?
You would have to ask the coaches. He is a tough player to play against.
Three years ago you stated this about Ricky Easterling. “I feel that Easterling is just the same. He is just buckets. He doesn´t shoot three pointers, but just finds his spots. I think that when he is 40 that he will still be able to score. He isn´t overall fast, but explosive. When he needs to get to the free throw line he does and doesn´t miss much”. Is he still the same or has he lost a step in his game?
He’s still the same. He’s buckets.
Three years ago you stated this about your ex teammate Patrick Heckmann who was at Boston College then. “The two lasting memories I have of him was that he was a great kid and he loves to play basketball. The first time I saw him play he wasn´t so tall, but the next time he had grown and was more athletic. The sky is the limit for him. He has euro steps and sees the floor so well. I have worked with him over the summer. He needs to get stronger and work on his shot, but he can play in the BBL”. How has he developed further in the BBL with Bamberg in the last few years?
Patrick is playing in the EuroLeague, so he has developed really well. He plays on a great team and for a great coach. So I’m happy for Patrick he’s a good player and good person.
It hasn´t been the best of seasons for Mainz. What have been the main reasons for the team not having a winning record?
We had a coaching change really late in the preseason and with that there is a new style of play and a different way things are done. That being said Chris Zander the new coach has been great ! The guys are learning and improving. Sometimes these things take time.
When you look at the usual Regionalliga rosters, there will be 1-2 Germans that have had experience in higher levels. That isn´t the case with Mainz. Is depth a problem with this team?
We have a lot of new players but players that are willing to learn. I would not say depth is the problem, experience can only be gained by playing.
The biggest problem is the defense as you simply give up way too many points with 87 per game. On what areas on the defensive end needs the most work?
A lot of the time we have a slip up on a game plan. Again some of this is new for guys but we will get there.
How confident are you that the team will make new positive strides in the second half of the season?
The results aren’t there yet but we have taken steps towards improvement. We just have to be ready to practice and prepare and things will work out.
Have you been sort of a mentor for young American Kewan Beebe? He came from the same type of school back round playing in lower levels like Juco and NCAA 3. How have you been able to help his game most?
Kewan is a great person. He’s got a lot of energy, he’s quick and can shoot it. He’s improving every week. It’s always an adjustment playing in Europe and he will get there. I’m just trying to help him with the style of play in terms of the physicality and the shot clock and the pick n roll game.
Let´s talk about your game. Your having another very strong stat season. What has been the secret to being so consistent in your career?
I would have to say playing for good coaches. Every team I have played on I have a good coach, that helps a lot as a player. Then it’s just about fitting in their system and finding your role.
You are turning 36 this summer. Despite being so consistent even at age 35, on what things on the court do you have to be more aware now in your game that wasn´t the case 7 years ago?
On the court nothing , it’s all of the court. Nutrition, recovery, training. Those are the things that are different from 7 years ago but they actually help a lot.
You are still a very potent offensive player. What part of your game do you feel is your strongest now and on what things are you still working on now to improve?
Not sure what is the strongest now, but I can improve on finishing through contact. Also quicker reads on the pick n roll.
You stated three years ago that defense is a hidden strength in your game. How much more challenging does defending get as you grow older? Do you see yourself doing things differently on the court that you wouldn´t have done when you were younger?
Well I have never been explosive so that’s not different now. It’s really just about doing your job. If a coach wants to ice a side pick n roll, just being quick mentally in terms of taking away the middle is something that whether you’re old or young you can do. It’s just about executing the game plan.
In our last interviewed you stated that you will want to get into coaching after your playing career. How have your thoughts and coaching focus grown through the years?
Coaching is the goal when I’m finished playing. I love helping players and sharing the things I have learned from the great coaches I have had. I love the game and want to help as many players as possible.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Lebron James.
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
Lebron is a great player. What he’s done throughout his career has been amazing. But Magic was great, Larry Bird , Kobe. There are a lot of great players and too many to say one is the greatest, it’s still a team game and all of those players needed the team just as much as the team needed them.
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?
I’m not sure what Westbrook is focusing on when he’s playing. Numbers really don’t matter all that matters is if the team wins, he looks like he’s competing though.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
The 2 that standout are Mitchell from the Jazz and Kuzma from the Lakers. They are playing at a high level and were not even top 10 picks.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
Chris Paul is a great player and will take pressure off James Harden. But the Rockets will not win because they do not play defense. Their best player never plays defense.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
Kyrie is an amazing player! Boston will win in the long term because Kyrie is younger and Thomas wants a max deal after this season, and no one knows what Lebron will do.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
Paul George and Westbrook are tough. Carmelo can still score but this will not beat the Warriors.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Trolls with my daughters.
Thanks Anish for the chat.