Even though I have hardly any free time with my seemingly endless basketball work, one day I decided to organize my player photos a bit better considering that with my new book concerning my basketball life in Germany will be released soon, I will want to add some of my memories with players to spice it up. I may not be totally accurate, but I believe my first picture that I ever took with a player in Europe dates back to the summer of 2004 and the BBL final series between the Opel Skyliners and Bamberg where I had to fight my way past security to shyly ask Tyrone Ellis if he could pose with me as nobody knew me then whereas today when I´m in the Fraport arena, I perform small talk with a majority of the security personal as that place has become like a second home to me. Over the years I have continued to take photos with players simply because I´m one of those guys that enjoys to have those memories for a lifetime. My fascination and craving of photos actually dates back to my childhood when I began to collect autographes and take photos with players as back then I just loved sports, played it after school with my friends and like so many other young kids was dreaming to be like a Larry Bird, Jim Rice, Peter Mcnab or Stanley Morgan all great Boston sports figures when I was growing up. My most cherished basketball photo from my childhood is with the great Bernard king who didn´t hesitate to pose for with a kid right after suffering a brutal seven game series loss to the Boston Celtics in 1984 where he almost single-handely disposed the green machine averaging 34,6ppg in the exciting series. Since basketball became a big part of my life in 2003 in Germany and I have been reporting about German basketball since then, I continued to take photos all through the years and just as I have recorded over 1000 player interviews in my 15 year career, I also have taken probably just as many photos or even more and have a very nice collection. The quality also has very much improved over the years as I have always been old school and probably was one of the last guys on earth that moved from a normal camera that only produced print photos to a digital camera not too long ago, so there are numerous photos that have very bad quality, while others are of better quality as they were made after I made the switch. With this vast collection of fine basketball player photos that I have, I decided it would be a neat idea to share those prints and add a little story about the career of the player with the heading “The Miles Where Are They Now Player Feature”. This is a feature that I will bring regularly and not necessarily every week, but moreover when I have some time to be able to invest some good spent time to looking back on a players career. It will most likely always appear on a Thursday in conjunction with the famous throw back Thursday term. Some guys that will be portrayed here, I had no personal relationship with except taking a photo, while other guys I had a personal relationship
With all the photos that I have, I could have made it real difficult to pick that first candidate, but when I found out only a few days ago via social media that Ronald Ross had decided to hang it up, I decided he would be a very good guy to start with. When I first found out that Ron retired, I thought, hmmmm already, but then again the man is already 35 an age where most professional players aren´t even thinking about hitting the gym anymore or hitting the track for a workout, but I guess I always made him younger than he was, because he just always came over as younger than his years. Perhaps also his strong passion for music in which he has been moonlighting since years as a rapper/singer kept him younger. With Ronald Ross, I can say I had a personal relationship. He was a guy I saw play live for numerous teams in Germany and also continued to follow after as he played in countries like Croatia, Romania and Cyprus. From the year 2009-2018 I conducted 16 interviews with him with the last being only six months ago. I asked him then what his secret was to being able to still being able to play into his mid thirties and added it had to be much more than just discipline and taking care of his 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”, stressed Ronald Ross. The way he spoke in our last interview, I would never have thought he would have hung up his sneakers for good since he was still in great shape and his zeal for competing was still at a very high level. Sometimes though things happen in life and things change and before you know it your life outlook starts to look different. What exactly made him want to retire and start a new chapter in his life I don´t know, but he had his good reasons and all I can do is congratulate him on a long career, a duration that most players don´t achieve playing in Europe. Perhaps he wanted to quit now when his body was still functioning properly and having won his first and only title in 2017. Why not step down when your on top and before you are a semi cripple on the court. He also had started a family which is about as good as any reason to hang it up.
Ross played 13 professional seasons that took him to Italy, Germany, Israel, Croatia, Greece, France, Cyprus and he also got experience in the D-League and USBL. I don´t exactly remember when I first met Ronald Ross, but it was in the 2007-2008 season which was his third professional season and first in Germany with Ludwigsburg. I remember that I interviewed him at least once in my weekly radio show and also after a game in Frankfurt where I made a few photos used for the article. I feel that we understood each other well at our first meeting in Frankfurt in 2008 and over the years we had a free flowing connection and Ron was always ready and willing to get hit with my questions. I also remember seeing him play at the 2008 BBL cup final in Hamburg which he lost to his future team Artland Dragons. In my last interview he remembered the loss in Hamburg and categorized it as one of his toughest, but not being able to achieve more with the Artland Dragons who he played for in the 2008-2010 seasons was tougher. “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 taken more advantage of that opportunity”, stressed Ronald Ross. What I remember most about him when I first started doing research for my first interview was the fact that he played under legendary head coach Bobby Knight at Texas Tech and that he had a special relationship to Will Chavis who was his teammate at Texas Tech and a guy I would later also get to know and interview on many occasions. Unfortunately I don´t have the first few interviews in my archive because everything before 2009 was lost when my old laptop crashed so having those great Bobby Knight quotes that he gave me are gone, but concerning losing a few tough games to Bamberg he uttered some words of wisdom that he remembered his ex coach saying. “Like old coach Bob Knight always told me, victory always favors the team with the fewest mistakes”, added Ron Ross. I also remember him saying inspiring words about his ex teammate and friend Will Chavis, but those words also are lost so whoever knows the two guys will have to let their imagination do some overtime to wonder what they were.
Ronald Ross was born in Hobbs New Mexico on March 11, 1983 and got his first basketball experience at Hobbs high school that currently have won 17 state championships most in New Mexico history. He then went on to play at Texas Tech from 2001-2005 and was able to improve his scoring and rebounding each season. He averaged scoring in double figures in his last two seasons and as a senior playing 33 games averaging 17.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 3.0apg, 2.6spg, FGP: 51.9%, 3Pts: 43%. His exteammate Will Chavis remembers how Ross became a player at Texas Tech. “Back at Texas Tech, we had lockers next to each other. We hung out a lot and he always worked hard. I told him when I was a senior and he was in his second year that he could be running the team in two years. He continued to work hard and I think that he has taken advantage of what I told him. One has to remember that he was a walk on at Texas Tech”, added Will Chavis. After a stellar career at Texas Tech he turned professional and went overseas and played his rookie season with Univer Castelletto Ticino (Italy-Lega2), but played only 12 games averaging 9.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.6apg, 2.2spg, 2FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 24.0%, FT: 76.5%. He was released in January 2006 and then went back home to regroup and gained self confidence putting up great stats with the Butte Daredevils (CBA) playing 48 games averaging 15.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.8apg, Steals-2(2.4spg), FGP: 49%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 74.2% and played with the Albany Patroons (USBL) playing 21 games: Score-3(17.4ppg), 3.0rpg, Assists-4(4.0apg), Steals-1(2.5spg), FGP: 47.6%, 3FGP: 41.4%, FT: 84.2%. With added self confidence in his baggage he returned back to Europe where he would earn more money and landed in Germany with EnBW Ludwigsburg (Germany-1.Bundesliga). He got his first international experience playing the competitive ULEB Cup playing 10 games averaging 11.7ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.9apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50%, 3PT: 44%, FT: 66.7% and in the BBL put up even better stats playing 34 games averaging 14.4ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.3apg, Steals-2(1.7spg), 2FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 29.1%, FT: 77.9%. After a stellar 2006-2007 season where the club more than overachieved belonging to the top teams in the regular season, the club sort of under achieved the season Ross came on board missing the playoffs finishing in 13th place. Their big season highlight was reaching the cup final which ended in Hamburg where they were outplayed by a tough Artland Dragons team. He would remain in Gemany for the next three years except for a short intermezzo in Israel with Maccabi Givat Shmuel (Israel-Premier League) and Maccabi Haifa Heat (Israel-Premier League) before moving to the Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck (Germany-1.Bundesliga) for the home stretch in 2008-2009 playing 12 games averaging 15.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.0apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 59.0%, 3PT: 57.1%, FT: 70.0%. It didn´t help as the team missed the playoffs despite having a very talented roster with guys like Darius Hall, Darren Fenn and Adam Hess. It wasn´t any different the next season with the Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck (Germany-1.Bundesliga) as he put up solid stats in the EuroChallenge averaging 10.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 18.8%, FT: 83.0%; and in the BBL averaged 11.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 27.1%, FT: 75.7%. The team once again underachieved finishing in 9th place missing the playoffs again despite having an even stronger roster than the season before with many of the same guys and new additions Hollis Price, Toby Bailey and Nathan Peavy. He would play one last season in Germany with the Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (Germany-1.Bundesliga) coming in December 2010. Before Ross came, the club had moved up from the Pro A and in the 2009-2010 season almost made the playoffs finishing in 10th place. However Ross came to a struggling team that would finish in 17th place moving back to the Pro A. The New Mexico native did the best he could and in 24 games was the BBL´s fifth best scorer averaging 15.9ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.0apg, Steals-4(1.5spg), FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 80.2%. The club had some raw talent with Wayne Bernard and a real character guy with Michael Hakim Jordan, but just not deep enough to compete with the other teams.
After parts of four seasons in Germany, the American ventured to Croatia where he played parts of three seasons with Jolly Jadranska Banka Sibenik (Croatia-A). He didn´t win any titles there, but belonged to the top players in the league as in his first two seasons there he finished third and first in league scoring at 17,9ppg and 20,6ppg. He was possibly playing his best basketball in Croatia, but he found time to step away from putting up extra reps and putting in extra shifts in the weight room by occupying time in a music studio. He had been moonlighting for years as a musician, but it never took off until he got to Croatia. Just as it is in basketball and in most other cases in life, he met the right people and the rest is history. Back in 2013 he was raving about his music success in an interview with me. “The music thing is such a huge blessing! I’ve been doing my music on the side for years and then it took off in Croatia! I collaborated with a great group from Croatia called “Klapa Godimenti” and we were fortunate enough to make a hit song! People know me a lot for both I guess because the media always correlates the two together. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I completely separate my basketball and my music. Basketball is number one and the music never distracts me. My music has always been therapeutic so it’s easy to stay focused“, stressed Ron Ross. He really has released some nice tracks under his artist name Jus Ron “If I was afraid”, “King of Love” and “First love” just to name a few. That he had music in his blood was already apparent at Texas Tech as his ex teammate Will Chavis remembered in 2015. “Ron sat right next to me in the locker room from day one so I always had to hear his singing. He was a rookie back then so we would just tell him he sucked!! Just to give him a hard time but actually Ron is one of the coolest dudes I know and I hope he has all the success on and off the court with his music. Great dude“, warned Will Chavis.
In is third season at Jolly Jadranska Banka Sibenik (Croatia-A), he left in mid season and joined AS Apollon Patras (Greece-A1) playing 15 games averaging 13.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.0apg, Steals-5(1.4spg), FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 26.3%, FT: 75.4%. He demonstrated in his short run in Greece that he could play against top level teams even if he wasn´t in top leagues every season he should have been. He scored in double figures in three of four games against top Euroleague team Panathinaikos including a 23 point game in a playoff game belonging to the top players in the game that featured top players like Mike Batsite, James Gist, Antonis Fotsis and Dimitris Diamantidis. In 2014 he was already over 30, but nowhere near done as he would play four more seasons including in Romania, France, Cyprus and one last hurrah in Greece. One thing that the American always did well was no matter where he went to he was always consistent with his game. Well almost everywhere except for his last hurrah in Greece with Aries Trikalla BC (Greece-A1) averaging 4.0ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.4apg. He remembers his short experience in Greece, but took the lumps with class in a professional manner. “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. 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”, added Ron Ross. Even if Greece wasn´t a success, he finally did win his first professional title in 2017 with Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-Division A) playing 27 games averaging 12.0ppg, 4.2rpg, Assists-5(4.0apg), Steals-1(2.1spg), FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 75.5%. He was the team leader at both ends of the floor and something that he will never forget. “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”, added Ron Ross. This past season he returned to Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-Division A) after his minor stay in Greece averaging 12.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 77.8%. Unfortunately they couldn´t defend their league title losing two tough final games to AEK.
It has been a while since I last saw Ron Ross play, but in the seasons he was in Germany from 2007-2011, I did see him play quite a few times and it was always a big pleasure to see him do his magic on the court. One game I still remember was in the 2008-2009 season as the Deutsche Bank Skyliners played a last season game in Artland and they had already been qualified for the playoffs, but Artland wasn´t. Artland destroyed Frankfurt 90-69, but still didn´t make the playoffs because they needed help from another team, but that team lost which left Artland in ninth place and ready for an early summer vacation. Ross led all scorers with 17 points. He had his moments as an outside shooter, but what I remember most about his game was his fancy penetration and great ability to pick and choose his spots in the paint and either finish or find his teammates for an easy bucket. He also had that ability to impact the game at both ends of the court. His ex teammate Will Chavis also heard about his official retirement statement a few days ago and gave me his two cents about his friends long and stellar career. “I remember when Ron first came to Texas Tech we had a locker next to each other, he worked hard and pushed me every day on the court but off the court he was one of my favorite teammates because he understood very young what that word meant!! He was always willing to go the extra mile for others. Great guy who I can only wish all the best for”, stressed Will Chavis. I have seen so many guys play over the years, but Ron Ross is one of those rare guys that was a great player and also a great guy. He really gave the name top character his special own meaning. Congrats Ron on a fruitful long career in Europe and I wish you all the best in life after basketball.