Demond Mallet started his illustrious career with McNeese St. (NCAA) in 1997 and had a great 4 year career and as a senior played 31 games leading the Southland conference in scoring at 21.3ppg), 3.3rpg, 2.1apg, StealsSouthland-2(2.1spg), FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 79.6%. He finished his collegiate career at McNeese State as the all-time leader in career three-pointers made (331), and steals (206) and third in points scored (1,941). He started his professional basketball career in 2001 and would spend his first 6 years in Germany. He quickly became a lethal scorer in the BBL with Basket Braunschweig averaging a staggering 21,1ppg in his three years. His amazing offensive talent got the attention of Bamberg who swiped him up and Mallet would play 2 seasons there from 2004-2006 winning his first professional title. In that time, he belonged to the top point guards in the German BBL and in the title season he played 30 games averaging 15.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.3apg, 1.4spg, 2FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 41.5%. He also played 20 Euroleague averaging 13.6ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.0apg, 2FGP: 57%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 64.8%. The next season he moved to RheinEnergie Koeln (Germany-1.Bundesliga) where his winning ways continued with the German cup and played 13 Euroleague games averaging 12.8ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.3apg, 2FGP: 46.3%, 3FGP: 37.1%, FT: 81.8%. In the BBL, he played 43 games averaging 12.7ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 55.1%, 3FGP: 40.4%, FT: 75.7%.In 2007 his path took him to DKV Joventut Badalona (Spain-ACB) where he proved he belonged to the top American players in the best league in Europe helping the team win the ULEB Cup. In both seasons, he had solid stats scoring in double figures in every competition. In his last 8 seasons as a professional, he would play three seasons with Belgacom Spirou Charleroi (Belgium-Ethias League) winning the league title in 2011 as well as being named league MVP. He also played one more season in Germany with the Artland Dragons, had a brief stay in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv and returned back to Spain and played two seasons with his former team FIATC Joventut Badalona who retired his jersey last season and his last basketball station last season was with Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-ProA) ). Some other achievements as he leaves the game was being a 5 time BBL allstar, German Cup MVP in 2007, 2007 BBL Allstar MVP, Spanish cup winner and Israel cup winner. He spoke to German Hoops a few days before his retirement ceremony in Bamberg about his basketball career.
Demond thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome back to Germany. You are in Bamberg as your former club has prepared a special ceremony before the Euroleague game against Crvena Zvezda. What does it mean for you to be recognized for your two great years with Bamberg?
It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of history and to be recognized with this ceremony is just great. I won my first title and then the dynasties started. So to be recognized for my career is very humbling. I´m very grateful to be recognized for my longevity in my career.
Does it feel like time has flown by. It was 12 years ago that you last played here?
For me Bamberg is a basketball haven. When you go to Bamberg, you feel the basketball, love and culture. It is one of the best programs in Europe. I will always be grateful of Freak City.
You stated you always wanted to retire at age 40. Your birthday is Thursday and the ceremony is Friday. Do you feel like you could of still played a few more years?
Yes I feel that I could still have continued playing. But sometimes you just have to let go and move on. Even though it was a tough decision, it is time to do something else. If I hadn´t let go now, I would have competed until I was 50. It was time to move on.
In your retirement letter you start with To the love of my life, at first I thought it was to your lady, but you meant basketball right?
Yes for sure. Basketball is the love of my life. I have been around the game for so long that even when I´m not playing basketball, I´m watching the game. I´m a basketball junkie.
Your ex opponents Derrick Allen, Immanuel Mcelroy and Julius Jenkins are all still playing in their late 30´s and for the same team. Do you see any of them reaching 40 and still playing competitively and which guy was your toughest foe on the court?
I think that all three can play until 40. It all depends if they want to. I played against all three and with Imac. I had battles with all three and had a whole Julius and he had a whole Demond. They are serious competitors. I enjoyed competing against them.
Now that you are retiring has it set in that your normal basketball life is over and that your daily routine will change and you will be having a totally different day routine?
I knew this would come to an end sometime, but it feels weird now. The daily basketball routine has been a part of me for so long that just walking away now is very strange. It is good for me that I have the opportunity to stop now. The time is right now. I will always play for fun and basketball will always be a part of me. Even now I like watching the NBA, college and high school basketball. I am always around basketball in some form.
The ceremony in Bamberg is a surprise as to what will happen. How much are you looking forward to it and how do you expect to be welcomed by the Bamberg fans?
I expect people to be excited to see me back. I missed the 10 year anniversary in 2015, because I was playing in Spain. For me to go back and celebrate my retirement is great. Bamberg is a top favorite of mine. I will always admire and feel honored to have won my first professional title with Bamberg. It will be an exciting night.
Did you talk to your cousin Shaq about retirement and do you expect a call, email or video greeting from him Friday?
I haven´t talked to him yet about it. This whole retirement thing was a decision that just happened. I was also entertaining other offers. I haven´t discussed my retirement with him yet, but I will when I return home.
Let´s talk a little about your Bamberg days. You came to Bamberg after having been a prolific scorer for Braunschweig for three years averaging 21,1ppg. How did you develop as a player with Bamberg and how vital were these two years for you in becoming a top player?
I had always been a scorer and had been that in college. When I came to Europe I had to adjust to becoming a point guard. Coach Bauermann really helped me. He always got on me and quickly instilled a mental toughness in me that helped me play a better way. He really helped me a lot. I´m grateful and honored to have been able to play for him.
What will you remember the most from the battles against Frankfurt. Where do they rank up with your most intense games you played as a professional?
That was one of my first head to toe battles which will always be at the top my list. Both final series went to five games and I still talk about these battles today. I remember in 2005 I thought it would be easy at first. We won the first game and I scored something like 30 points. But Frankfurt made good adjustments and we lost some games. But we overcame adversity came back and won the title.
Frankfurt Skyliner legend Pascal Roller named you as one of his toughest opponents. Where do you rank him in your all-time toughest opponents and what do you still have those clear blue eyes in your mind when he was staring you down?
Pascal was a silent assassin for me. He was such a nice guy, but on the court he would kill you. You couldn´t let that nice look distract you, because he would throw you off. If you didn´t respect him, he would destroy you on the court. I loved playing him then and would love to go back to the young days and do it again. We had some tough battles back then.
Which Bamberg player was personally for you the most important in your first season That guy that was like a mentor for you?
All players kind of mentored me. I remember Chris Ensminger and Steffen Hamann welcoming me with open arms. But one guy that really helped me was Uvis Helmanis. He was like a tough big brother for me. I knew when I got hit, he would come and hit him back. He was a real reliable teammate and great guy. I still have contact to him to this day.
In your farewell letter you name all the coaches you played with. How much did Dirk Bauermann push you? Did he ever tell you the truth about something any player may not have liked and what do you remember being the most key thing he was able to teach you as a developing player?
I had a lot of respect for him. He would tell you the truth even if you didn´t like it. As a young adult, I wasn´t used to it. He really woke me up and made me a tougher player. What I always will remember was when he told me I was sensitive. After he said that I got a lot tougher.
Germans fans not in Bamberg always liked to tease Steffen Hamann calling him Steffi and naming him the long lost son of Dirk Bauermann. Did you ever feel like there was a sort of favoritism and just how tough was Hamann as a player that fans just didn´t want to understand
I don´t know and never understood why the fans were like that. I played with Steffen and for me he was a tough and hardnosed player that never backed down. I don´t know why fans gave him a hard time. Players and coached respected him. I think fans didn´t like him because he was a winner.
You won titles in Spain, Cologne and Belgium, but would it be wrong to say that your two years in Bamberg weren´t your most enjoyable?
They rank high. Winning the ULEB Cup is also up there. That was all of Europe. Also winning the Spanish cup is up there.
A year later you moved to the RheinEnergie Koeln (Germany-1.Bundesliga) winning the cup. What was so special about this team? It seemed like the team character was extra special?
We had a lot of great guys and it was a great season for me. I really needed a good season, because it was tough coming back from an ACL injury. We really wanted to win so bad. Coach Obradovic worked us so hard. We were in the gym all day and it felt like I ate and slept basketball that season. At times we had no breaks. In a way we underachieved not winning the BBL title. We should have won the title that year. It was one of my hardest working years in basketball as a professional.
You then played two seasons with Juventut Badalona. How often did you think about playing for FC Barcelona one day? You played 4 seasons in the ACB. Would a contract with Real Madrid or FC Barcelona have topped off your career?
I didn´t really think about it playing for those top teams. I wanted to play for the rival Badalona. All want to play for the best team, but I´m one of those guys that wants to play and win against the best. It would have been nice to play for a team like FC Barcelona, but I was happy playing with Badalona.
How proud were you that you were the lone American on that 2008 ULEB cup winning team? Was that your biggest title or was it the Bamberg one?
I was the only American, but to be honest, I never thought about that. We all felt like brothers and came from the same place.
There you played for head coach Aito who is doing a great job with Alba Berlin this year. How do you remember your relationship with him and how did you benefit from his coaching philosophy?
Playing for coach Aito changed my career. When I got to Badalona, I didn´t understand his drills. I usually never had any difficulties adjusting to a system, but with his I did. Aito is a coach that really is strict with details. He watched the small details and I had to adjust to that. He really helped me adjust and understand his system. He taught me the game better and and how to understand certain situations and to never panic. Be resilient and all will pan out. He is a legendary coach and one of the best in Europe for sure.
You played two seasons with one of the greatest Spanish point guards Ricky Rubio who would later go to the NBA. What is something about him that few know?
He is like my little brother. He is one of the hardest working teammates that I have ever played with. He was like a man in a kid´s body then. He had all the tools at an early age. I used to call him the blessed child. With age 16 he played with guys twice his age. He was a great teammate and we always pushed each other in practice. We also built a relationship out of basketball and are good friends.
In the 2009-2010 season you played your only season in Turkey with Turk Telekom. At the end of the season you were teammates for 13 games with Ricky Davis who played many many years in the NBA and only a few months in Europe. When you saw a guy like that what do you feel was missing for you to get there?
Getting to the NBA is all about timing and it just wasn´t my time. I had the skill set, but there just weren´t enough positions in the NBA. That season with Turk Telekom, we had many great superstars and talent, but we were no team. It was difficult, but still a great experience.
You also thanked Rick Carlisle head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. What dealings did you have with him?
He coached me in Summer League when I came in as a professional. He was a tough guy. I remember when he saw me coming out of college, he said “who is this guy”? I was a rookie and trying to establish myself and wanted to make a name. All on the roster had potential, but it was all about numbers and timing and I wasn´t able to stick. But that was ok. I knew I would have options overseas
You played two and a half seasons with Charleroi. What did it mean playing for this organization and winning the league title and MVP in 2011?
That was a great experience. We had a very good team. We had veterans that knew how to win and it was easy to fit in. The veterans gave me the key to lead the team.
You played 2 and half seasons with Charleroi lifer Justin Hamilton who was two years younger than you and hung it up in 2015. You were both experienced players, but could a Demond Mallet learn something from him?
For sure I could learn from him. Justin is my guy. He was quiet at the start. He really knew the game and how to play it. When I first met him, he was very quiet and I didn´t know what to expect. But I´m a funny guy by nature and soon he opened up to me. Sometimes we would be roommates on road trips, but that switched around, because that is how the team did it. We started to hang out, go to dinner and became real close.
You came back to Germany in 2012 to play with the Artland Dragons. What memories do you have of seeing a young big kid growing with Isaiah Hartenstein. How focused do you remember his dad Florian being with the career of his son?
I knew that Isaiah had potential with his height and body. He was a quiet kid, but blossomed quickly. He had to work very hard, but I was rooting for him and I´m very happy for him that he was drafted. His dad lived for his career.
You played half a season with Maccabi Tel Aviv. After experiencing head coach David Blatt, did you ever ask yourself why the Cavs didn´t give him more of a chance?
I never understood why he got fired, but there is so much you can´t understand in this business. We will never know what the real situation was and why it happened. He is a good coach that has had success everywhere even with the Cavs. He is a great coach that will always have great jobs.
You played with Baby Shaq Sofoklis Schortsanitis. How would he do against the bigger Shaq in a one on one duel?
He is one of the biggest guys and most skilled and quickest guys that I ever played with. Everybody thinks he is a big fat guy, but he has very quick feet. Everybody thinks that he is a big mean giant, but he is a gentle giant off the court. We would always play and wrestle. I´m really glad that I was able to play against him. He wouldn´t win against Shaq in one on one.
What did it mean going back for two more years to Badalona. Who was Demond Mallet the player in 2014-2016 in comparison to 2007-2009?
The Demond Mallet in 2014-2016 was more of a leader, role model and coach. I was a guy that led by example and took young guys under his wing and showed them how to be successful and build a culture and keep winning. I wasn´t worried about scoring, but just winning.
You played with Brandon Paul. Did you have any idea that he had the game to get to the NBA?
Yes I did. He was the most talented kid that I saw play. He does a little bit of everything. He is a good kid. I think that he has a very good chance to stick in the NBA for a very long time.
Your last team was Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-ProA). It was a tough season as the team was losing a lot. How do you remember your last months?
It was near the end. It was the most toughest situation that I had been in. It was tough because I got there so late. The season was my pre season. I had no rhythm. I was in shape, but not in game shape. The team had many struggles with trying to stay in the league, injuries and guys getting fired and coming in. It was hard to lead and produce while trying help others. It was a good experience, but we just needed more time with the new guys that came in.
What is the next step for Demond Mallet. You always came over as a character. Any plans of getting into the entertainment business?
I´m not going into the entertainment business. At the moment, I just want to be around basketball and enjoy being retired. I will watch basketball and see what happens.
Your best all-time teammate and toughest opponent as a professional?
Jason Williams aka “White Chocolate”. I played him with Mcneese State when he was at Florida. You never knew what to expect when you played against him. He was a very awkward player and hard to defend. Every teammate I had was my favorite teammate.
How would you like fans to remember Demond Mallet the basketball player most?
I want fans to remember me as a good teammate, good person and winner.
I have covered you since 2004 and remember the breathtaking final Bamberg-Frankfurt as well as interviewing you in 2008 in my radio program at Radio Fortuna after you won the Uleb cup. I also remember post game interviews in Frankfurt, Bamberg and Cologne. What was your nicest memory with me?
What I will always remember about you was how cool you were and how comfortable it felt talking to you. I always thought you could be an ESPN reporter. The way you interact with people makes guys want to talk to you. I feel much respect and love for the work you do. You’re a good person and do a very good job. The best is yet to come for you.
What was the last movie you saw?
Black Panther. It was a very good movie.
Thanks Demond for the chat. All the best for you.