Dan Oppland is a 34 year old 203cm forward that completed his forth season for the Nurnberg Falcons and 12 professional season. With Nurnberg he played 20 games averaging 13,3ppg, 7,1rpg and 2,6apg He started his basketball career with Valparaiso (NCAA) in 2002 where he played until 2006. He started his professional basketball career in 2006 for Hanzevast Capitals Groningen (Holland). He then played in countries like Poland and Sweden before coming to Bayreuth in 2008. He then played for seasons four Allianz Swans Gmunden (Austria-A Bundesliga) where he won three titles. He also played for Namika Lahti (Finland-Korisliiga) in the 2013-2014 season playing 47 games averaging 15.7ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.0%. He played 119 games with Nurnberg the last 4 seasons and was able to improve his scoring average each season. German Hoops learned the American was to retire and prepared a farewell interview, but he may still continue playing.
Dan thanks for talking to German Hoops. This is our 5th interview since you arrived in Germany in 2014. How has time flown by in your 4 years in Nurnberg with the Falcons?
Time has definitely flown by since I arrived in Nürnberg. It has been a tremendous four years and I have met some great people along the way. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to play here.
You just completed your 12th professional season and last as you have decided to hang up your sneakers. How does it feel now in April shortly after the end of the season that your break now won´t be a few weeks from the court from getting ready for next season, but forever?
It is not certain that I am retiring, so I still have some things to think about. You still might see me on the court next season.
Before we talk about your stellar career, let´s talk about last season with Nurnberg. The Nuernberg Falcons BC finished the season in 12th place with a record of 11-19. How significant was the 2-8 start for the course of how the season went?
It was very significant because we dug ourselves in a deep hole that was very difficult to get out of. We gave away too many games during that span.
You then had a good phase winning 6 of 8 games, but then lost 9 of 10 games, but finished the season strong with a two game winning streak. Why was the team so up and down? Did the team never reach their potential?
I really don’t have an answer of why we were so up and down. I don’t like using the excuse that we were young because as a season progresses, your age doesn’t matter if you’re playing every day. We just didn’t get consistent play from everyone night in and night out.
The team had a lot of talent, had solid Americans and a healthy mix of very talented young Germans and veteran Sebastian Schroeder. Do you feel like the club underachieved or was there 2 more German veterans missing to add a bit more depth?
I personally thought we were good enough to be in the playoffs, but we just weren’t consistent enough. I think we did underachieve and was disappointed with how the season went. But I still think our guys worked hard and gave great effort.
As a team you averaged 71 points per game, but also gave up 76 points as a team. It will never be easy to win games when you give up more than you can score. Why couldn´t the club get a better balance switching around these two stats?
Well, if you look at the numbers we weren’t a good shooting team from outside and we turned over the ball a lot, so when you combine these two factors, it can create those type of stats in the end.
Let´s talk a bit about your teammates. How much of a joy was it playing with top American point guard Virgil Matthews who like yourself has had a long and fruitful career. Did you have conversations with him about possible retirement the last months?
It was a pleasure playing with Virgil. I wish we had him for the whole season. I learned a lot from him regarding how to read and play the game the right way. He really became a mentor for some of our young guys, so it was important to have him here. We had many conversations about basketball over the course of the season.
I was always disappointed that Virgil Matthews never got a BBL chance. What will always stick out in your mind about his competitive nature?
He just played the game the right way, for the right reasons. It was never about his personal accomplishments, it was about winning, and winning the right way. He does whatever it takes to make the team better.
How did you follow the amazing Cinderella story of Van Girard? It took him 6 years to get to Europe after playing semi pro ball in the States. What impressed you most about his path and where will it continue to go?
It was very special to have Van and his family here. They became like family for my wife and me. I was inspired by the work ethic and great attitude he brought each and every day. If he can get a chance to play, I think he has a great opportunity to do something special because he is willing to dedicate himself to get better. Whatever he does in life, he will have great success.
The club has many talented Germans like Moritz Sanders, Matthew Meredith, Nils Hassfuerter and Ben Gahlert. Which German do you think made the biggest step this season in their development?
I really think Moritz and Nils made great strides this year because they were consistently part of the rotation. It was great to see how much progress they made from the previous year. Although Ben and Matthew weren’t around as much, they still have a bright future ahead of them if they continue to work hard.
You played the last 4 years for German coaching legend Ralph Junge. When you look back at the 4 years with him in Nurnberg, how did he help you develop your game in your thirties?
I appreciate Ralph giving me the opportunity to come and play in Nürnberg because it allowed me to play and meet some incredible people.
You turned 34 in the last season and was able to improve your scoring each season. I know you don´t think much about stats, but do you feel like you were getting better with age?
I always pride myself to stay in good shape, so I demand a lot from myself. I think this mindset has helped me improve over the years.
Many guys have to retire due to injuries or a lack of production, but you surely could of played some more years. Why did you decide to hang it up now when your game was going so well?
Like I said earlier, still haven’t decided on retirement yet.
You stated two years ago to me in an interview that you can always improve your shooting. You shot over 40% in your junior year at Valparaiso (NCAA) and in Austria as well. But with Nurnberg, your three wasn´t as strong. Will that three pointer be a part of your game that will remain a work in progress?
My 3 point shooting is something that has been inconsistent during my career, and something that I will continue to work on.
One of my favorite quotes from you in one of our interviews was this. “I am not big into statistics. I’ve had seasons where I scored a lot, but my team didn’t win anything and then seasons where I scored less and we won. The only stat that matters to me is wins and losses”. Even though players will never truly admit it there are enough that have played for stats. What did your 12 year career mean to besides your one Austria Super Cup title when stats were secondary?
My most fond memories during my career are the relationships I built with people on and off the court. I have been blessed to cross paths with some very special people over the years. But also winning a championship and 3 cup titles in Austria was incredible, along with the success we had in Bayreuth and my first year in Nürnberg. It is always more fun when you are winning.
You stated in our very first interview in 2014 at age 30 that your quickness and perimeter defense were two things people never noticed. Do you feel like at least your defense was appreciated a little in your last years or will it be forver be off the radar?
I hope my defense is something that people took notice of, but this really doesn’t matter to me in the end. What´s most important is whether or not I had a positive impact on my teammates and the people around me. That´s what matters most.
When you look at your career and game, did it bother you that you never played in the German easyCredit BBL? Did you follow the path of your ex teammate Shawn Huff at Valpariso in Germany?
It used to really bother me that I never got a chance to play in the BBL, but over the years I have excepted it because there are lot of people who would probably love to be in the situation I am in right now. I have been blessed just to get the opportunity to play professionally for the last 12 years. Playing in the Pro A is the reason why I met my lovely wife 10 years ago as well. I do follow Shawn and am very proud of what he has accomplished in his career thus far. He is a great player, but an even better person who deserves everything that has been given to him.
Talk some of your highs with Nurnberg. Was the 5 game series against the ETB Wohnbau Baskets in 2015 one of your fondest memories?
Yeah, grinding out that series win against Essen was very special. My fondest memories are playing with guys like Basti Schröder, Braydon Hobbs, Josh Young, A.J. Calvin, Virgil Matthews, etc. The list can go even further with names because I have built some great relationships on and off the court over these last 4 years.
You played the longest with the Allianz Swans Gmunden (Austria-A Bundesliga) and Nurnberg with 4 years each. Is it too difficult to pick which time was more memorable?
Looking at the basketball side, Gmunden was a very special time for me because we had so much success on the court. It was like a second home for me and my wife because we made so many friends there. But Nürnberg has become a second home for us as well, and I have met some great people here too.
You lived in Nurnberg for 4 years right in the heart of Bavaria. What did you learn to appreciate the most about Germany?
Living in Nürnberg made me realize how much I missed Germany. The city itself is perfect for living with so many sights to see in the surrounding area. I always love having visitors come, so I can show them around this special city.
You witnessed the early Cinderella story of Braydon Hobbs when he came to Germany and went from the NCAA 2 via the Pro A to FC Bayern Munich. We all knew he was talented, but if someone had told you in April 2015 that Hobbs would be going for a possible second BBL title in 2018 what would you have thought?
I wouldn’t be surprised at all because Braydon is that special. Like I always tell people, there is nobody that plays like him on the basketball court. With his IQ and skill set, he is so fun to watch. I am proud of what he has accomplished, and am a huge Bayern fan now that he is donning their uniform!
You played two seasons with your brother Mike in Bayreuth. What was your fondest memory with him in Germany that you will never forget?
I actually played two seasons with Mike in Gmunden in Austria. These were my 2 favorite years of playing because we got to share the court together after thinking we never would play together again. It was a special time, especially when we won the Cup title together in 2012.
As a rookie you played with Hanzevast Capitals Groningen (Holland-Eredivisie). You were teammates with a young John Turek who was a year older than you and retired in 2015. What memories do you have of your rookie season with him and if someone would have told you then that you would have such long career´s what would you have thought back in 2006?
I enjoyed playing with John back in 2006. He really helped me adjust to the European game being that it was my rookie year. He was a great friend and a pleasure to play with him. I never would have dreamed that I would still be playing 12 years later.
Who was your toughest opponent on the court and who were your best teammates? Obviously it is never easy picking just one best teammate so I will let you chose as many as possible.
I have had many tough opponents over the years, so it will be difficult to name just one. My best teammates were the guys previously mentioned like my brother Mike, Basti, Josh, A.J., Braydon, Virgil, Jaivon Harris, many teammates from my Gmunden years, Roope Suoni, Reggie Arnold and Storm Warren from Finland. But this list can go on as well, because I have been fortunate enough to play with some great teammates who helped me grow not only as a player, but as an individual as well.
What would you like fans to remember the player Dan Oppland?
I hope fans remember how hard I worked and that I did whatever it took to try and win.
What is the next step for Dan Oppland. You have a German wife. Could you imagine staying in Germany or is the States the primary option?
The next step for me is to possibly play another year or so and focus on my family. I will stay here in Germany with my wife for the time being. We will see what the next step is for us.
How did you experience the 2018 NCAA March Madness? What was the most spectacular upset in the tournament?
I always watch March Madness, its a religion in the United States, so you have to watch it. I wasn’t as updated on the teams and players as in the past, but I was impressed by the run Loyola made. I loved the way they played defense and grinded out wins. The most spectacular upset had to be #16 UMBC over #1 Virginia. No one saw that coming.
Deandre Ayton seems lie he could be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. But having been in Europe this season you must of seen some highlights of Real Madrid´s 19 year old stand out Luca Doncic who belonged to the best players in the Euroleague. Should a guy like that be the automatic #1 pick just from sheer experience and talent?
Although Doncic is a once in a lifetime player, I don’t think he is an automatic #1 pick because Ayton might transition better to the NBA game. We will see who’s game translates better to the NBA style, but I think you can’t go wrong with either pick.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
Nothing Lebron does surprises me anymore. He could probably average close to 15 assists a game if he wanted to.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
The last movie I watch was the Count of Monte Cristo. But the last movie I watched at the theater was Black Panther. Good guess!
Thanks Dan for the chat.