Ronald Ross is a 34 year old 188cm point guard from Hobbs, New Mexico playing his 13th professional season and third with Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-Division A) winning the league title last season. He returned back in January and has helped the etam to a 4-2 record in the country league averaging 10,5ppg, 3,5rpg, 3,3apg and is shooting 42% from outside. He played at Texas Tech under legendary head coach Bobby Knight. He started his professional career in 2005 and played in the States in the CBA and USBL leagues and in Europe in countries like Italy, Israel, Germany, Croatia, Greece and Romania. In Germany he reached the 2007 BBL cup final with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and also played with the Artland Dragons and Mitteldeutscher BC. German Hoops felt it was time to catch up again with the American in Cyprus.
Ron thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how did you spend the Christmas season this season?
Christmas was great! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend it with my family, but I made the best of the day reflecting on the things I’m grateful for and having gratitude towards the smaller things in life.
You have spent Christmas in countries like Germany, Italy, Israel, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus. Where in your opinion did you enjoy it the most?
My perspective changed when I started a family, but each of the countries had something special to offer in their own way. From Christmas markets, carnivals, and team gatherings I shared a lot special moments with some great people over the holidays.
The last time we spoke was in the summer of 2013. Times has really flown by for me. Does a season go just as fast for you now in your mid thirties like it did at say age 27 or don´t they fly by as quickly anymore?
Time definitely flies! I think as the years past you understand more and become more patient with the process. I think for vets it’s more about getting through that “burn” in preseason, but once that’s out the way it’s go time!
Your turning 35 years on February 11, 2018 and your still going strong in your 13th season. What is your secret to still being able to play now in your thirties? It has to be more than just discipline and taking care of your body?
You’re right, it’s more than discipline and taking care of your body. I would say it’s because I absolutely love basketball! Although it’s hard work, mentally I haven’t worked a day in my life because it’s something I’m truly passionate about and don’t take it for granted!
After playing three seasons in Croatia, you played the next two seasons in Romania with BCM U Pitesti (Romania-Liga Nationala). You put up very strong stats. Did you never in the last seasons get offers from teams in higher leagues?
Yeah, I was always fortunate and blessed to a have other offers. I stayed in Croatia longer than expected though because there was a passport agreement that unfortunately never worked out. You know very well basketball is a big business and you got to have the right timing, right opportunities and the right people representing you! Sometimes you can have all that, but it just doesn’t work out! I knew my hard work wasn’t overlooked though when the Dallas Mavericks invited me to minicamp when I was 30.
With BCM U Pitesti (Romania-Liga Nationala) you were reunited with Radenko Pilcevic who you played with MBC in the 2010-2011 season. What memories do you have of the second time around and did any of those old MBC stories surface?
Yeah, I have a huge respect for Radenko and we still keep in touch from time to time! The memories definitely surfaced! He’s a the perfect teammate to have! He’s work ethic and attitude is parallel to what it takes to win and being the competitor I am I have a huge appreciation for that!
Last season you played with Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-Division A) winning your first professional title. How much of a relief was it finally winning the first title and what made this team and run so special?
It was a big relief after losing cup championships in France, Germany, Israel, and Cyprus! It was finally nice to bring the gold home! It was a special journey to the top with Keravnos because everybody was super humble and the team chemistry was bar none!
Talk a little about the competitiveness of the Cyprus-Division A). It is a league that is quietly growing in skill level. How would describe the skill level and how it compares to other leagues that you have played in?
Cyprus is a very small country, but the love for basketball is definitely present here! It’s not so many teams in the league, but like anywhere else anything can happen! The league definitely has ambitions to get bigger and better as a country!
You led the league in steals in Cyrus and are still a very strong defender in age. Do you still have a good amount of that athletic ability despite being older or does a lot of your play on the defensive end have to do more with IQ and experience?
Haha! I still got some athletic juice in the tank, but the IQ doesn’t hurt to have! I loved defense since I was a kid so I think it’s something that I naturally take pride in coming from Hobbs High school in New Mexico!
At 34 you signed with Aries Trikalla BC (Greece-A1). You returned back in a top league in Europe.But it was only a short stay for you What has been the most challenging for you on the court?
Yeah, I signed there, but it wasn’t what I expected it to be! I should have thought about that decision a little more, but I was thankful for the opportunity overall! The most challenging thing for me would probably be accepting losing! Even if all the odds are against you you can never lose that competitive edge!
There were four American rookies on the team. Was one of the reasons for your signing to be a type of mentor for the young guard Shawndre Jones?
Yeah, that was my idea going into it, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way!
Your averaged only 4,0ppg, 2,4rpg and 2,0apg in 16 minutes. You had a very different role than usual. Was the limited role a reason you left the club?
Yeah, my role there was definitely different! It was too limited and it just wasn’t a good fit for me there to be honest! That was a first for me in my career, but I understood that so I didn’t overthink it too much!
You lost both games against top Euroleague teams Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, but dueled against some of the best guards in Europe like Brian Roberts, Marcus Denmon and KC Rivers. What do you feel was separating your game with theirs when you were younger? Is there so much difference or really just having the luck of getting the right opportunity?
Big respect for those players! One thing you can never do is never hate on another man’s journey because they are where you are not! All players have different skills, but yeah I definitely could have played at that level when I was younger.
You have returned back to your old stomping ground Keravnos that are battling for the title and playing Fiba Europe Cup. How excited are you to go for more titles? It looks like it will go down to the wire with AEK
Yeah, I’m pretty excited to be back! I just have to quickly get adjusted to the team and get back to doing what I normally do! The team has ambitions with no limits so hopefully we can make it a very successful year!
The club is stacked with Americans including ex BBL veteran Anthony King. On paper is this team stronger than last season?
Yeah, I think the team is better for sure, but not only because the Americans, but the Cypriots as well! The team is very well coached too!
In our last interview you stated “I hated getting nailed by one of Flo’s ball screens. He used to kill me! lol But the most impressive thing about Flo was he had these 5’3′ arms on a 6’9′ frame, but accomplished so much. It was hilarious, but beneficial because we were on the same team. His son Isaiah was drafted by the Houston Rockets and is on the jump to the NBA from the G-League. What memories do you have of a 11 year old boy running around the Artland arena?
Haha! Yeah, Flo was my guy! I think Isiah was taller than me when he was 11 though! What I remember most about Isiah was his relationship with his father! He absorbed his father’s words and valued the lessons when he was being taught! Outside of basketball I think that’s the kind of kid any father would be lucky to raise!
It is now 6 years since you last played in Germany. What losing the 2008 cup final to your future team Artland your biggest disappointment in Germany? What memories do you have form that final game?
It was really tough losing the cup championship in 2008, but I would say my biggest disappointment would be not having more success as a team during my time in Artland! We had such a great team, great coach, and great management! Knowing what I know now I would have taking more advantage of that opportunity!
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Jordan, Kobe, Bill Russell, LeBron
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?
In my opinion Michael Jordan is the best of all time, but regardless of Lebron’s success or failure he’s still writing his chapters and is definitely already one of the greatest to ever play the game! I’m curious to see where he stands when it’s all said and done.
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 disagree! Westbrook is a beast and he leaves his heart on the court every night!
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers was hands down the most slept on in the draft! You also have great rookies like Donovan Mitchell! This draft was great and it’s going to be interesting to see where they are in a few years!
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?
You never know! I’m definitely not counting the Rockets out! They have a special team!
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 Irving is definitely the steal in this trade! He’s an instant impact which I think Isiah might need a little time to find his role with the Cavs!
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?
OKC obviously has a powerhouse roster, but they have yet to prove that consistent dominance everyone is waiting for! I’m not sure if they can make a big run in the west though! That’s just my opinion! I’m not sold on them yet!
What was the last movie that you saw?
I actually started watching the series “Walking Dead”. It’s not typically my type of show, but so far so good!
Thanks Ron for the chat.