Brian Harper is a 33 year old 208cm forward that is playing his 12th professional season and third in Germany and first with the Tigers Tuebingen. He played two seasons in Germany playing 66 BBL games combined with TBB Trier averaging 11.0ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 60.3% and with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven (Germany-BBL) averaging 5.9ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 62.7%. He also played four seasons in Japan and also played in countries like Norway, Korea, Lebanon, Cyprus, Estonia and Israel. He began his basketball career at Paine (NCAA2) in 2003 and played 108 games in a four year career and as a senior averaged 16,6ppg and 6,9rpg. Last season he split time with Hapoel Ramat Gan Givataim (Israel-National League) playing 4 games averaging13.0ppg, 4.3rpg, in Feb.’18 moved to Cytavision Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus-Division A) playing 12 games averaging 12.8ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 43.3%, FT: 75.0%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Brian welcome back to Germany. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Hey Miles, thanks I’m happy to be back. I’m currently in LA but will be in Germany soon. Life is great and Basketball is always good.
Welcome back to Germany. You were away four seasons away. What did you miss the most from the country Germany and it’s basketball?
The thing I missed most about Germany would have to be its people. As for basketball I would have to say the level of professionalism and the quality of basketball. Also the fans in Germany always make it great to play there, they are some of the best in the world.
We have done 7 interviews in the past. Has time flown by since your playing time in Germany that brought to new places like Cyprus, Estonia and Israel?
Yeah time has flown by for sure. I’ve had a good time playing in many different countries these past 4 years, but I’m really excited to be back in Germany!
You signed with Pro A team Tigers Tuebingen of the Pro A. What were the main reasons for signing with the team that once played BBL?
I am super excited to be joining the Tubingen Tigers! I was looking for a situation this season where I could play for a great organization and compete with a team looking to win.
How difficult were the last months? At age 33, you were unsigned. Did you ever have any thoughts about possibly calling it quits as a professional?
Ask any professional basketball player it’s always tough waiting for the deal that you feel is right. I was lucky enough to have some opportunities come up these past few months, and even more fortunate to have found the deal I wanted. There are a lot of good ball players looking for a job so I’m thankful for this opportunity.
What do you remember from your duels against Tuebingen with Trier and Bremerhaven? Could you off the top of your head remember your record on the court against them? You must remember the first meeting since it was your first BBL game.
I remember the arena was packed with fans and it was a great atmosphere. I don’t remember my record against Tubingen, but I do remember playing them in my first BBL game and winning that game.
You had a 2-2 record in Germany against Tuebingen. Is there a game that still stands out or does their pink gym still remain active in your mind?
My first game against Tubingen stands out because it was my first BBL game so there is no way I could forget it. Out of all the gyms I’ve played in the pink gym is one I’m sure I’ll always remember.
Your coming to a struggling team that really needs wins. The club doesn’t want to say it, but it seems like you are a type of savior coming in. How excited are you for this new challenge?
I’m really excited to be joining The Tubingen Tigers! Every season has it’s challenges and obstacles, and as a team we will look to be successful throughout the rest of the season. My goal is to come in and do everything in my power to help the team win games.
You will be playing for head coach Alexsandar Nadjfeji. What memories do you have of him on the court? He was one of those guys that never seemed to get older and was still playing at a high level well into his 30’s
I remember Coach Nadjfeji always playing hard and being a great competitor.
What kind of role do you see yourself having with the Tigers Tuebingen? You have always been a consistent scorer. Is this something that will be a big focus besides other things?
I’m looking to come in and do whatever Coach Nadjfeji feels the team needs from me. I’ve always been able to score the ball, but I’m also looking to provide multiple things on both ends of the floor.
The BBL remembers you well with your amazing flights to the rim back in the day. How well has your athleticism been holding out as you continue to play into your 30’s?
My body feels great and I still feel like I’m athletic and explosive. I think fans can still expect to see some of the high flying they remember.
How has your game developed further in the last years since you last played in Germany. What do you believe are you doing better now than when you were balling in Germany?
I feel like my game has grown a lot in the last four years. I have added more to my offensive skill set and also have grown into an even better defensive player.
When guys get older, it seems like they can’t rest, but actually have to do more. There are many guys in the BBL that are old like Julius Jenkins, Derrick Allen, Immanuel Mcelroy that are still playing very well in their late 30’s. Are these guys role models for you as your return to Germany and continue to want to play well at a consistent rate?
Yeah those guys have set a blueprint on how to continue to play at a high level well into your 30’s. That’s for sure a goal of mine, and I’ve already had the pleasure of playing with and watching Derrick Allen work during our time in Bremerhaven. He is an ultimate professional and one of the hardest working players I’ve played with.
On what things are you still focusing on now to get better at? You shot the three extremely well in Israel and Cyprus last season. How much pride are you putting into your shooting now as you get older?
I’m focusing on continuing to get better at everything. I feel like if you stop trying to get better you are doing yourself an injustice. I definitely take pride in shooting the ball well. Shooting the 3 at a high rate is one of those things that I continue to stay focused on. Last season it definitely paid off .
You also played with Tartu Ulikool/Rock (Estonia-Alexela KML) playing 22 games averaging 12.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.0apg, Blocks-2 (1.3bpg), FGP: 61.1%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 55.0%; and played 11 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 11.0ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 66.7%;and played 6 Baltic League: games averaging 12.8ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 88.0%. What kind of experience was it playing with top Estonian veteran Janar Talts? Did you exchange any BBL stories as he was teammates in 2004 with NBA player Marcin Gortat?
I had a real good time playing with Janar Talts. We did end up spending some time talking about our experiences playing in the BBL. I enjoyed my time in Estonia and learned a lot that season. I had a good time competing in the FIBA Euro Cup, and Baltic League!
You returned to Japan in 2016 to play with Tokyo Hachioji Trains (Japan-B League D3) averaging 14.6ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.1apg, Blocks-3 (1.3bpg), FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 27.6%, FT: 63.2%. You played four seasons in Japan. What do you remember most fondest about the culture and the way basketball is played there?
I love the Japanese culture and my wife and I enjoyed our time there. My fondest memory of my time there would be my wife and I getting pregnant with our first child while living in Tokyo. The style of basketball is up tempo and more one on one basketball in most cases. I’ve been able to have some success in both styles of play so I enjoy playing in both.
When you played with TBB Trier you were teammates with Canadian Jermaine Bucknor. He is still with them. What do you remember most about his game and character? I am sure he is a guy out of the 100’s of teammates you have had that you won’t forget.
Jermaine is a great basketball player and an even better person! The thing I remember most about our time together would have to be the battles we would have in practice. We would push each other to get better and it always prepared us for the upcoming game. We stay in touch and are good friends and our families are close.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the BBL in your two year run with Trier and Bremerhaven?
There were so many good players when I played in the BBL it’s hard to just pick one. One of my teammates in Bremerhaven proved to be one of the toughest. Darius Adam’s led the league in scoring and could facilitate and defend.
If you had to pick your all-time starting 5 of best teammates which 5 players would you pick?
I’ve played now for 12 seasons as a professional basketball player and have played with so many great players. It would be almost impossible to only pick just 5. I’ve been blessed enough to be a part of some special teams. The team that I won a Championship with in Cyprus, and the team we had in Trier would be two of the better overall teams I’ve played on.
If you had to construct your very own NBA mount Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant
What is your personal opinion about the never ending debate of who is the greatest between Michael Jordan and Lebron James?
I think Lebron will go down as one of the best of all time, but Michael Jordan in my opinion is still the greatest.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Brian for the chat.