Peyton Siva Conquered Adversity Early Allowing Him Too Carve A Stellar Career

If you ever get invited to a Thanksgiving feast at Karl “The Mail man” Malone´s house you probably wouldn´t want to bring up any of his NBA finals appearances, because he went home ringless, but perhaps rather talk about the good qualities of the holiday that is giving them an amazing feast. Another guy who had his misfortune in finals was a Jerry West who reached 9 finals, but couldn´t get by Bil Russell and the amazing Boston Celtic teams, but at least he won one. Then there are those guys who no matter what they tried on the court, they just couldn´t stand on the court for a consistent number of games, because the injury bug always crept in the way. The best example of a player who had injury woe plastered on his head was ex NBA player Greg Oden. Two of the worst things that can happen to a professional basketball is not winning titles and getting hit with the nasty injury bug. Oden came into the NBA in 2007 as one of the biggest talents at that time, but  could never show it as in six professional seasons with Portland (5 seasons) an one with Miami, he played only 112 NBA games. He really only played three seasons as he missed three seasons to injury as his long history of injuries and not playing must have felt as painful in a way as it is for guys not winning a title. At least GregOden will always be known of being the overall #1 NBA Draft Pick which is a badconsolation, but something nobody can ever take away from him. One guy whodoesn´t fit into one of these categories, but both is Alba Berlin guard PeytonSiva. Ok so he hasn´t had that Greg Oden label of missing seasons, but what has been extremely annoying and painful in his case, is that twice nagging injuries have curbed the next step in his development as a rising player inEurope. On top of that he also has never won a professional title and came very close twice with his team Alba Berlin losing the 2018 Cup final and league final to FC Bayern Munich. If all else fails, he can always flaunt having won the NCAA title with Louisville. But Peyton Siva doesn´t want to sit on the past, but is a massive competitor and a guy who is hungry to win professional titles. He has come so very close with Alba Berlin last season and the club is on an excellent path this season and continuing to develop further as a club, but for the most part without the American this season. It is a sad fact at the moment that injuries continue to curb the rise of Peyton Siva despite conquering adversity early and carving a stellar career.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Peyton Siva in Frankfurt in December 2017

                Peyton Siva is a 28 year old 183cm point guard that has achieved a lot in his basketball career, but already experienced a lot growing up that many guys wouldn´t have been able to handle. Somehow he was able to overcome family problems and make smart decisions which allowed him to be able to be where he is today as a top point guard in Germany in the easyCredit BBL. Having won an NCAA title and even received a shot in the NBA, but in the last few years he has made a rise as a player with Alba Berlin. Before we talk about this rise, it is necessary to know how the career of theAmerican brought him to Alba Berlin. Siva was born on October 24th1990 in Seattle, Washington. He is of Samoan decent and grew up in a rough area in Seattle, Washington. You can look at so many basketball success stories and the majority of the players will credit their fathers to being instrumental through their career path, but with Siva it was different. He had a father, but he wasn´t present as he battled drug and alcohol addiction while his mother supported the family working three jobs. It was a real struggle with his dad, that got so bad that his dad tried suicide, but his son was able to talk some sense into him. He had to find some kind of escape from his sad home life and did finding a love for sports. He found an early love for football and basketball and was able to avoid getting into drugs and alcohol. He attended Franklin high school and was a star leading the school to a class 4 A championship as a freshman and a class 3 A title as a senior winning the tournament MVP as he averaged 18.1 points, 5.3assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. His basketball success at Franklin highschool got him the award Mr basketball in the state of Washington.

 

                After successfully findingsports and making a real name of himself on the court, he made the next stepand went to Louisville(NCAA) in 2009 and played under legendary head coach RickPitino. He had an unspectacular freshman season as he played 31 games averaging 3.9ppg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg. He played behind Edgar Sosa who would lateralso play professionally in Germany, but did manage some season highlightsdespite having problems with his wrist. He gave out at least three dimes in 11games and scored a career high 14 points against West Virginia. He made hisfirst NCAA appearance, but lost in the first round against California 77-62.With Sosa gone, his time came in his sophomore season as he started 35 gamesand averaged 28 minutes per game averaging 9.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 5.2apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 27.2%, FT: 68.1%. Some highlightsin the season included making back to back game winning lay ups against WestVirginia and Uconn who had his future teammate Niels Giffey on the floor. Theseason ended on a sour note for the 4th seed as they were upset by13th seed Morehead State 62-61. He had highs and lows as a junior,but in the end got out of his hole and rediscovered his game and led Louisvilleinto the NCAA Final 4. The first half of the season, he wasn´t himself on thecourt as he was coughing up the ball way too much and his three pointer wasunder 30% totally unacceptable for a competitive coach like Rick Pitino. Pitinonoticed that Siva was doing too many other things and basketball seemed to getlost in the shuffle. Pitino urged him to take a relationship break and focusonly on school and basketball and he heeded his words. “I remember coach Pitino telling me not to read toomuch what people are saying. I had a rough patch my junior year where I hadbeen injured and hadn´t been playing well. Pitino told me that people have ashort term memory. He said if you have a bad stretch and then a good stretch,then they will forget the bad stretch. At the end of my junior year, I had areally good stretch and I was able to take that into my senior year. That wasreally big for me”, stressed Peyto Siva. That season he played 38 games averaging  9.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.6apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 24.6%,FT: 73.9%. He scored in double figures 18 times and finished strong. He was theMVP of the 2012 Big East tournament averaging 13,8ppg and 5,8apg and carriedthe team into the NCAA Final 4 with big wins over Michigan and Florida, buttheir ride ended with a loss against arch rival Kentucky.

 

                In his senior year Siva andLouisville wanted to reach the pinnacle with the NCAA title after getting sofar in 2012 and they wouldn´t be denied this time. It was overall an excellentseason for the school which began with the 2013 Big East title. Siva was namedthe MVP for the second year in a row and has been the only player to win thishonor multiple times together with legendary Patrick Ewing. He also set atournament record with 7 steals against Notre Dame and he would become theall-time steal leader at Louisville surpassing the great Darryl Griffith. Inhis senior season he played 40 games averaging 10.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 5.7apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 28.8%,FT: 86.7%. He scored in double figures in 23 games. Down the stretch of theNCAA tournament they would beat Oregon and Duke and won a nail bitter againstWichita State. In the final, Louisville beat Michigan 82-76 as he powered theteam with 18 points. In this game, he beat future NBA players Trey Burke andTim Hardaway Jr, but they did have the last laugh sticking in the NBA while hedidn´t. Years later the fact that they are in the NBA and he isn´t hasn´t fazedhim a bit. “That doesn´tconcern me. I don´t worry about them, but worry only about myself and how I canbe in the best position and be able to succeed. They are great players and I´mhappy for their success. It is great how Trey Burke has resurrected his careerafter going to the G-league and then signing with the New York Knicks. TimHardaway recently signed a big contract.”, warned Peyton Siva. Siva couldn´tachieve his success without his teammates and remembers how vital guard RussSmith was and how incredible a player Kyle Kuric was. “Russ was great for me. He was a great person off thecourt and one of my good friends. We fed off each other well and just knew whatthe other guy would do. He could go for 20 points in one half in only a span of5-8 minutes. That was really great. There were so many great moments with Kyle. Kyle is so athletic and canshoot the ball with the best of them. I think my biggest moment from him and heprobably will say the same was when he dunked over a Notre Dame guy and thengot a technical for staring at him. He is also a great person. I check in onhim all the time”, stressed Peyton Siva. Who knows where Siva would be today ifhe hadn´t had a watchful Pitino looking over him as he struggled with his gameas a junior. Siva will never forget him and appreciates all that he did forhim. “He just told me to work hard each day and get better each day. He putthat into every player at Louisville. He wanted every player to have a strong workethic”, added Peyton Siva. He battled a Russ Smith each day in practice andsoaked up a lot and was even humble enough to admit that his teammate got thebest of him in one on one duels. “Russ won. It wasn´t like I didn´t win, but he had more wins”, smiledPeyton Siva.

 

Siva who lists Kemba Walker and Trey Burke as hishardest covers in the NCAA was drafted by the DetroitPistons in the second round at #56 and then proceeded to play NBA Pro SummerLeague in Orlando with the Detroit Pistons playing 4 games averaging 7.8ppg, 2.0rpg, 6.0apg. In his rookie season he split time withthe Detroit Pistons playing 22 games averaging 2.5ppg, 1.5apg and Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League) playing 9 gamesaveraging 14.3ppg, 2.6rpg, 5.0apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 38.0%, 3PT: 51.2%, FT: 80.6%. He scored in double figures twicehitting the Chicago Bulls for 12 points and the Atlanta Hawks for 10 pointswhile with Fort Wayne produced a 27 point and 10 assist game against Iowa andhad a 24 point effort against Rio Grande. Getting past the large guard shufflewasn´t easy in Detriot and one he just couldn´t master that season. “When I got there for the stretch run, there were 3-4guards before me so there wasn´t much playing opportunity. I thought that I hadplayed well in the G-league and the front office also had felt that.Unfortunately it was not what the next management wanted”, added Peyton Siva.Hemay not have been long with the Pistons, but it was also beneficial having anex top point guard with Maurice Cheeks as head coach and something he willnever forget. “I talked a fewtimes to Mo. I learned how to approach the game from him. I worked out withChauncy Billups a few times and Mo was there. Mo told me you always have towork, work, work. It was important seeing his passion and just seeing how thislegend was able to install his work ethic in others really impressed me andhelped my game”, warned Peyton Siva. In his second professional season he wasclose to playing in the NBA again, but was released by Detroit and Orlando andhad to settle for the G-League with the  Erie Bay Hawks andplayed 37 games averaging 13.9ppg, 3.4rpg, 6.8apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 77.4%. He scored indouble figures 26 times and had some really good games against Delaware with 31points, hit Maine for 29 points and 25 points against Westchester and RioGrande. He really exploded at the end of the season averaging 24 points and 8assists per game in his last six games and finished his G-League career with a31 point and 17 dime explosion against Delaware. Despite the great finish,there didn´t seem to be any realistic interest from the NBA then or after his NBAPro Summer League stint in Orlando in 2015 with the Orlando Blue playing 4games averaging 5.0ppg, 2.0rpg, Assists-5(4.5apg). Not getting back to the NBA hasn´t fazed him either, because he knowsexactly where his priorities were in 2017. “The NBA isn´t on the back burner. If it´s there, it´sthere. But the NBA isn´t something that I will live or die over. The mostimportant thing for me is to put me and my family in the best position to makeas much money playing basketball”, warned Peyton Siva. After experiencing howthe NBA functions from 2013-2015, he decided to go overseas and go where thereal money is. He played with Pasta Reggia JuveCaserta (Italy-Serie A) playing 21games averaging 13.3ppg, 2.7rpg, Assists-1(6.5apg), Steals-1(2.0spg), FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT-1(91.9%). He needed no real adjustment period to the Europeangame as he arrived and conquered on the court leading the Serie A which is atop league in Europe in assists. He shone on the court even if getting used toEurope off the court was tough at first. “The biggest wake up call was the language barrier. No one spoke Englishin Caserta. It was tough to communicate at first especially in restaurants. Butonce I started to hang around teammates, I picked up key phrases and then itbecame easier. My rookie season was an overall good experience”, added PeytonSiva.  Also having some older trueveterans on the squad that had seen it all in the NBA was huge for him anddefinitely helped get his career rolling in Europe. “Bobby Jones made it reallyeasy for me and really helped me a lot. It also made it easy that I had knownhim before I had arrived because he also comes from Seattle. He knew everythingfrom how to communicate, knew the business side and taught me how to be aprofessional. I still talk to him to this day. Another guy that also reallyhelped me was Linton Johnson who and played in the NBA and for many years inItaly. He also taught me how to be a professional. I really appreciate thoseguys”, warned Peyton Siva.

 

            Siva made the next step in his basketball career in 2016joining top German club Alba Berlin where he is currently in his third season. HisAlba Berlin career has been plagued by injury woes. In his first season in2016-2017 he hurt his right leg and missed three months. He ended up playingonly 24 BBL games averaging 9.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 4.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 83.8%; and 12 Eurocupgames averaging 11.3ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-3(6.3apg), Steals-2(2.0spg), FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 44.7%, FT: 86.7%. Even if onenever wants to think an injury as a positive, perhaps being injured in hisfirst season was like a blessing in disguise. The team was struggling underAhmet Caki and Siva had a lot of time to reflect about the team and hissituation which helped him rebound after his injury and be even stronger thanbefore. “I got a chanceto really watch a lot and learned what I can do to help my team. It was amental game in my first season with Alba Berlin. I learned that you have tomentally stay ready. I´m happy how I have been able to bounce back. I haveshown what I am really made of. But I know that I still have to work hard andcontinue to get better. I didn´t loose confidence in the way I know how toplay”, warned Peyton Siva last season. Last season with Alba Berlin, Sivastayed healthy and it also didn´t hurt that everything finally clicked with theteam. The club brought in Spanish legend Aito as head coach who gave everyplayer a special confidence and the players were able to translate it intosuccess He also brought in the right mix of players like Luke Sikma and SpencerButterfield and guys who were off the radar for years like Joshiko Saibusuddenly became an impact player. It is always hard work to achieve success, butsometimes it seems so easy. “We have many new players with a new philosophy andall have bought into the new system. The team is caring and sharing the balland just enjoying basketball. That is something that coach Aito stresses tohave fun on the court. Alba basketball is free flowing where we share the balland have trust in each other. We all strive to keep working hard and continuingto get better. We stick to the principles of coach Aito and have fun on thecourt”, added Peyton Siva. It seems like almost every season he has had someamazing player on his team that has made everyone else better and one of thosehas been Luke Sikma. “I don´t know why Luke isn´t in the NBA. He is a verytalented player and very smart on the court that makes the right reads. He hasa very good knack for rebounding and he has become a lot better shooter. He isalso a tremendous passer and can play the positions 1-5. He makes my job a loteasier and he is a great guy off the court”, stressed Peyton Siva.

 

                He is a guy that is fearless onthe court and that came from his childhood when another sport was also cravinghis sport appetite. “It comes from playing football. My whole family playedfootball. I´m not scared of anything. Size and contact doesn´t bother me, butit is normal for me”, warned Peyton Siva. He doesn´t compare his game to oneNBA player, but moreover tries to soak in as much as possible from guys likeRajon Rondo, Ricky Rubio, Damian Lillard and Isaiah Thomas and add it to hisgame. Being healthy obviously helped him be successful again last season as heplayed 44 BBL games averaging 12.0ppg, 2.2rpg, Assists-3(5.7apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 37.2%,FT: 83.9%; and 13 Eurocup games averaging 11.8ppg, 2.7rpg, 5.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 39.3%,FT: 78.8%. He helped lead Alba Berlin into the BBL final and cup final. In theBBL he scored in double figures in 29 games including a 25 point effort in awin over Brose Bamberg and scored in double figures in the Eurocup in 7 gamesincluding a 26 point explosion against Rytas Vilnius. It was without a questionhis best overall season with the combination of personal play and team success.“I was never reallyhealthy in my first two seasons overseas. In Italy I had torn my hamstring andlast season, I was out in the second half. Important for me has been learningto do more in less minutes. It has been a big adjustment coming to Europe notgetting 30 plus minutes especially when you are with a top team. Guys arealways looking at stats, but at the end of the day it´s not about that.Important is too just play hard and do as much as you can in the minutes thatyou get. That mindset really helped me this season and coach gave me thefreedom and confidence to just play my game this season”, added Peyton Sivalast season.

 

This season started out on a bang as he led Alba Berlin to a 4-0 record in the BBL averaging 10,3ppg,7,3apg and 2,5spg while shooting 42% from outside while in the Eurocup led his team to a 4-1 record averaging 16,3ppg and 10,3apg while shooting an astronomical 59% from the parking lot. But then on October 26th the nasty injury bug slapped Siva in the face again in a game against Ludwigsburg as he fractured his ribs. The only good news is despite added injuries to the club, the team has still stayed successful going 3-1 in the BBL and advancing to the next round of the Eurocup without guards Martin Hermannsson, Joshiko Saibu and Siva who have missed many games. It will be interesting to see how Alba Berlin will play when they are healthy again. They definitely will be in the hunt again for titles this season and with an added year of experience for players and knowing the Aito system better, sky is the limit for Alba Berlin. “I always feel no matter where I play that we are a title team. We don´t mind not being in the headlines. We play without pressure and that is a reflection on our coach who doesn´t put pressure on us, or bombard us with information, but just let´s us play. Coach stresses that if we win isn´t the best or if we lose isn´t the worst, but the most important thing is that we continue to get better”, warned Peyton Siva. Even if the NBA seems like ages ago for him, he does think about what could have been had he been a first round pick coming out of Louisville, but also has his head focused intently on Alba Berlin now. “ I always thought I was one of the best players coming out of the NCAA and that I can play with anyone. I thought that I played well down the stretch with the Detroit Pistons, but they changed management and wanted to go in another direction. It was all about timing and luck. But I´m perfectly happy with where I am in Europe with Alba Berlin. I am meeting great people here and traveling the world. The NBA will always be a dream. Most important for me is to continue to work hard and develop my game and hope to get back to the NBA one day”, warned Peyton Siva. The most important thing now is that he gets healthy again and can find back to his stellar play from five weeks ago. The way Alba Berlin is playing now and what they could really be capable of once all are healthy again is truly mindboggling. Winning that one title or the another may just be that last straw that will put the NBA on the back burner for good for Peyton Siva as he continues to carve his stellar career to new heights.

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