Not Settling For Goodness But Greatness Has Made Ra’shad James The Player He Is Today

If there is a man on earth who has always listened to his wife then I want to meet that man, because I doubt he exists. Men have always been known as having difficulty listening when she is saying something worthwhile. So often men have gotten problems for being somewhere else with their thoughts when she was speaking to him, but then when she mentions that there was some breaking news about his favorite professional team just happened or if she says with fear that there is no beer left in the refrigerator suddenly a man´s listening skills improve 180 degree´s. It was 10.40 PM when I reached Telekom Baskets Bonn sniper Ra’shad James in his hotel after a tough 102-91 loss to FC Bayern Munich where he contributed 14 points and I had learned that he could give me some insight on  to listening. Before I asked him about his new basketball home in Bonn and listening, I was a bit miffed why the club remained the night in Munich instead of traveling the 6 hours home on an early evening Sunday night game. Why they didn´t go home directly after the game didn´t interest me in the least, but moreover the interesting basketball career of James and his not usual character. He is one of those rare players that would rather spend an afternoon in Bonn visiting the Beethoven house or seeing the history of the Cologne cathedral instead of being locked away in his apartment and enjoying Play Station 5. The American traces his cultural curiosity back to growing up in tough White Plains, New York where he was raised by his mom and brother. “My life experience´s have made me the man that I am today. You have to be a special type of guy to survive in New York. You have that all for themselves mentality in New York. I saw the good, bad and ugly all at once. You come overseas and are put in a shell and you don´t trust anyone. But I´m glad that I have an outgoing personality and can adapt to new situations. I just love to see and learn about the world”, stressed Ra’shad James. I could of asked him right from the start about how he could help me cure my listening problem, but I waited until the end after learning more about his fascinating basketball career. James stated that one has to know that there is a difference between hearing and listening and did his best to assist with my problem. “I think that if you have a problem listening than you should just wait until the person is done talking. That is what I do. It is important to keep eye contact. A lot of people speak to react instead of responding”, stressed Rashad James. I took his advice and hope that it will help me in my future conversations with people. One thing is for sure the American most likely will never have any problems with head coach Predrag Krunic, because nothing that the Serb says will go in one ear and out the other.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Ra’shad James after he dropped 28 points in leading the Telekom Baskets Bonn to the 2018 Gezeiten Cup win over s.Oliver Baskets

Ra’shad James is a 28 year old 185cm guard who is in his sixth professional season and first in Germany with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. He has gained valuable experience in countries like Korea, Poland, Croatia and Turkey and once scored 51 points in a G-League game. He began his basketball career at White Plans high school in New York and began his college career in 2008 with St.Thomas Aquinas (NCAA2) where he remained two years. His college career was interesting and unusual as he started in the NCAA 2, then played in the NCAA and finished back in the NCAA 2. That he would go places as a professional player later on was something he knew early on. “Since I had a ball in my hands, I always had a chip on my shoulder. I always thought that I was destined for greatness. My drive for greatness was already brewing”, said Ra’shad James. After two stellar years at St Thomas Aquinas he made the next step up to Iona in the NCAA, but his stay was short and unfulfilled. One can sense that he had some issues with the former club and had no time to play behind guards Lamont Jones and Sean Armand. “There was room for me there, but I had to wait my turn. I was in no position to wait. I thought I was ready then”, added Rashad James. Sometimes one has to make a step backwards to make two steps forward as Kameron Taylor learned last season going from Ehingen to Rhondorf and then to Wurzburg in the BBL. For James going back to the NCAA 2 and Northwood was the best decision he made in his life. He was fortunate to play for legendary ex Villanova head coach Rollie Massimino who won the 1985 NCAA title and had a 816-462 record in the NCAA. He played 32 games as a senior averaging 23.0ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 77.4% and will never forget Massimino who died in 2017 at the age of 82. “That year at Northwood was very rewarding. Coach Massimino taught me a lot about how to be an overall professional and how to approach the game. He also taught me to read the game better. I remember one thing that was mandatory with him was that you had to see him once a day. This really built the relationship. He taught me that there is a fine line between goodness and greatness. He always said no matter where you are in life, that you should always keep pushing and not to settle for only what is good”, warned Ra’shad James.

The American who lists guys like Isaiah Cannon, Isaiah Thomas and CJ Mccollum as the toughest guards he battled in the states began his professional career with the Reno Bighorns (D-League) playing 49 games averaging  7.6ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 24.7%, FT: 74.8%. That first season he scored in double figures in 17 games and showed signs of his scoring ability netting 21 points against Santa Cruz and 20 points against Ft Wayne. In the summer of 2014 he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas with the Sacramento Kings winning the title averaging 7.2ppg, 1.2rpg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 50%, FT: 80%. He played another season with Reno and this time took off as he played 46 games averaging 20.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 68.9%. He scored in double figures in 40 of 46 games and scored 20 points or more 22 times. He had big explosions against Texas with 51 points, 43 points against Santa Cruz and 42 points against Sioux Falls. “I thought that I was near to an NBA call up. I thought that I did a good job displaying my offensive abilities and I credit that to hard work. I did a great job that season, but it just didn´t work out getting to the NBA then. But I still have a lot more in the tank. I feel my future is bright as I continue to rise”, warned Ra’shad James. The American also remembers the 51 point scoring onslaught, but probably would only have been a side note had they lost. “It was one of those nights where I was in the zone. It really doesn´t matter how much I score and it is only important if we win. It was a great individual night, but it would have meant nothing to me had we lost”, added Ra’shad James.

In the summer of 2015 he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas again this time with the Portland Trail Blazers) playing 5 games averaging 6.2ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 46.4%. Instead of playing a third season in the G-league with the hopes of reaching the NBA, he decided to go overseas and would later return back to the G-League. It was a whirlwind season as he began with Dongbu Promy (Korea-KBL) playing 15 games averaging 9.9ppg, 2.2rpg, 2FGP: 45.9%, 3FGP: 41.9%, FT: 63.4% and in Nov.’15 moved to AZS Koszalin (Poland-TBL) playing 14 games averaging 16.1ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.6apg, 2FGP: 46.7%, 3FGP: 34.6%, FT: 67.2%, left in Feb.’16, later that month signed at Westchester Knicks (D-League) playing 17 games averaging 15.8ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 73.2%. It was all in all a long season, but he remembers it as an important learning experience that he handled well. “The experiences I had in those places helped me understand the game better. I had ups and downs, but I stuck with it and came out on top”, added Ra’shad James. In the summer of 2016 he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas once again this time with the Milwaukee Bucks) and shone in 5 games averaging 14.2ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.0spg. However he decided to go back overseas and played with top Croatian team KK Cedevita Zagreb (Croatia-A1) where he played in three leagues with the Croatian league playing 11 games averaging 11.9ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 89.5%; played 31 Adriatic League games averaging 9.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 84.1%; and played 11 Eurocup games averaging 11.6ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 75.0%. He made his European break through and played very well in the Eurocup. He was teammates with ex Uconn stand out Ryan Boatright another guy who should have been in the NBA and wasn´t. “Ryan is my guy. We had a good relationship on and off the court. I had a great time there with a first class organization. Ryan and I want to be in the NBA, but it´s all about timing. It is our job as a professional to keep working and see the light one day and get that opportunity”, stated Ra’shad James. Last season he played in Turkey with Yesilgiresun Belediye (Turkey-BSL, starting five) playing 30 games averaging 15.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 41.6%, FT: 75.0%. It was probably stat wise his best season in Europe, but one has to wonder why a guy like James after his strong season in Croatia hasn´t got the opportunity to display his abilities for another Eurocup team or possibily even a Euroleague club. James knows it isn´t any different getting that opportunity in the Euroleague than it is in the NBA or any other desired job in life. “Getting the chance with a Euroleague team is all about timing. I think that Euroleague opportunity will come sooner than later, but I´m not wavering on it”, warned Rashad James. It was a memorable time in Turkey not only because he found a cat in his car engine saved it and called it engine and has brought it to Bonn. “The season didn´t work out the way I wanted it as my team moved down. But we had a great group of guys, my game was solid and it did get me to Bonn which I´m thankful for”, said Rashad James.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Ra’shad James who scored 51 points in a G-League game after the Bonn 105-63 win against the Dragons Rhondorf

Now the American who has been described to NBA players like Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe and Monta Ellis calls Bonn home.  He also had no problems taking the job as he was more than impressed by the organization. “It was welcoming for me. It was eye opening for me and really helped me with my decision when coach Krunic personally called me at home. The teams are very competitive in the BBL and it is a great plateau for me to showcase my abilities there and in the BCL”, stressed Ra’shad James. Despite the addition of many new faces, the Telekom Baskets Bonn have held their own and are a force to be reckoned with this season. “Our success is due to being able to push the ball out on transition as well as having quick guards that can get up and down the court and we have good bigs. We have a solid roster where everyone is giving their all. Everything is clicking”, warned Rashad James. The American is content that head coach Krunic has believed in his abilities and given him an important role. “My role is just to lead. I have been around the block and just want to sue my abilities on offense and defense and help my team win. I like the up and down style that we play. The tempo we play suits my game. Coach has helped me find good positions to score in the right ways”, added Rashad James. Even if he is known as being a lethal scorer, he doesn´t want to have that label plastered on his forehead. “Every guard has to score. I don´t want to be seen as one dimensional. I offer so many other things on the court”, stressed Ra’shad James. Even if he is in his sixth season and has seen it all, he won´t shy away from his fellow teammate Josh Mayo and soak in as much as he can. He knows that having greatness can only be achieved by still being able to learn something new. “I can always learn from Josh. That is the great thing about basketball, because you can learn something new each day. I will take anything from a guy that will make the game easier for me. I´m a student of the game”, warned Rashad James. He is off to another big start as he was the last two seasons in Croatia and Turkey as in Germany he is averaging 14,5ppg in the Basketball Champions League and 17,4ppg in the BBL and shooting 36,7% from downtown. His recipe for consistent success is very simple. “My success comes from being consistent and working hard in the off season. I´m always trying to add new things to my game while sharpening the things that your great at. Every season there are guys trying to take your spot so I´m always in the gym”, said Rashad James. The BBL season is still young and Rashad James will surely land in the top 10 in scoring at the end of the season and be instrumental for the success of the Telekom Baskets Bonn. But in March 2019 is the BBL allstar day and there have been rumors that the league already has James inked as a slam dunk competitor as he can fly and dunk like no other, but becoming a dunk legend in Germany after one season would be nice, but being able to achieve greatness in his mind really only depends if you get that chip. “It would be humbling and honor to be seen as a dunk legend in Germany, but it really doesn´t mean anything to me. I am a competitor at heart and at the end of the day it´s about winning games and titles. That is my most important goal”, warned Ra’shad James. Winning titles in Bonn is a sore spot, because they are still waiting for that first championship and in a way are like the NFL´s Buffalo Bills as they have reached five league finals and three cup finals and still haven´t won. Even if the club stay winless again, fans will be content and have been enriched not only by the play of Rashad James, but by his worldly character and unbelievable will wanting to win as he will have proven that not settling for goodness but greatness has made Ra’shad James the player he is today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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