Robert Nortman Learning To Work Smarter And More Efficiently During His Injury Was Big For His Growth

is a 31 year old 204cm forward from Nassau, Bahamas that completed his second season in Germany and first with the Tigers Tuebingen. He was injured for most of the season and played only 8 games averaging 1,6ppg and 1,1rpg. Last season he played for the ROMERSTROM Gladiators Trier (Germany-ProA averaging 4,8ppg and 2,6rpg. He has played most of his professional career in Canada with teams Halifax Rainmen (Canada-NBL Canada), Island Storm (Canada-NBL Canada), and Windsor Express (Canada-NBL Canada). He also gained experience with teams Maitland Mustangs (Australia-WARATAH) and Francavilla Fontana (Italy-Serie C Silver). He played four years at Dalhousie University (Canada-CIS) and as a senior played 21 games averaging 14.6ppg, 6.4rpg, FGP: 49.4%, FT: 61.7%. He spoke to at the end of the 2018-2019 season.

Robert thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and what is on your agenda in the next months

Hi Miles, thank you for reaching out. I am in Toronto right now and plan on being here for most of the off season. I will do a lot of training and continue to study some German language courses in the next few months.

Has the NCAA Madness taken your mind off not reaching the playoffs with the Tigers Tuebingen?

The tournament was crazy this year, but nothing can take my mind of off missing the playoffs.

The club wanted to get back to the easyCredit BBL. How did you experience this season in Tuebingen with the team and fans? Is the disappointment high that the BBL won’t be back next season for the team?

The team and the fans were both great in Tuebingen. The fans supported us through both the good and bad times this season. The club operated like a family and did a good job of taking care of the players. I know that Tuebingen would love to return to the BBL and I believe that they can make the ascent happen.

One can say it was a tale of two seasons for the Tigers Tuebingen. In 2018 things didn’t go well, but with the arrival of Georg Kampf in mid January the team was reborn. What was your summary of the season of Tuebingen?

This season was one of highs and lows. However we did not break and we kept fighting until the end. We started with a completely new team and with many players who did not have experience in this league. The club, coaches and players were all adjusting to how things work in the Pro A. We took some time to build chemistry and to get into a flow. Once the team figured everything out, our confidence rose in our ability to finish games and the we went on a big run at the end.

Before Georg Kampf came on board the club had a disappointing record of 7-11. What do you feel were the main reasons then for the club not being able to have more success?

We had a completely new team and not much experience in this league. We had to learn how to play together and learn what it took to win in this league. Building chemistry can be difficult, it takes time and sacrifice from the players. 

Ex head coach Aleksandar Nadjfeji was a legend in the BBL as a player and had had coaching experience as an assistant. Last season he had misfortune of not keeping Tuebingen in the BBL and this season he was let go. Is he one of those classic examples of a guy that is simply better suited to be an assistant than a head coach?

Coach Nadjfeji really knows the game. He has played basketball at a really high level for a long time. He has a lot of knowledge and has potential to be a great coach. I think he just needs more time to develop as a coach. Being a head coach is a big transition and there was a learning curb. Coach Nadjfeji was definitely growing as a head coach and was really finding his voice as the season progressed. Experience is an important thing and being a rookie coach definitely proved to be challenging. With more grooming and experience he can become an excellent head coach.

Head coach Georg Kampf is one of those coaches that is very hard nosed, won’t take crap form anyone and has his own way of getting his message across. How vital was his presence for the turnaround of the team?

Coach Kampf has been in this business a long time. He has been coaching for many years and has his own way of doing things. He did a good job getting everyone on the same page. He had us focused on playing to our strengths and being in better shape than our opponents. He helped us believe in ourselves at a time when moral was low.

What do you feel changed with the arrival of Georg Kampf? The team defended better, but also had games where they gave up many points and the offense seemed to score more.

We played bigger with Coach Kampf. We had been playing small ball before and we moved Elijah to the 3 and Enosh to the 4 position with Robertas at the 5. That helped with our defense. Also we did a lot of extra running and conditioning. Playing bigger and being in better shape than many other teams helped us a lot in games. 

Do you feel like if Georg Kampf had been brought in a month earlier that you would have made the playoffs or did the late season loses against PS Karlsruhe and the Artland Dragons cost you the season.

We were in position to make the playoffs. Those late season losses cost us our chance to make the playoffs. We had the opportunity to win both of those games. We were up and made costly mistakes in the final minutes of both the Artland and Karlsruhe games. A single possession can cost you the whole season. 

Obviously the Tigers Tuebingen want to get back to the BBL as soon as possible. Despite not having been able to accomplish it this season, what positives did the season bring the organization?

I feel like this season was a turning point for the club. The team had been struggling for a while in the BBL. This season we were able to find ourselves again and figure out how to build a winning product. We finished the season at 15-15, with a strong final push. The club is definitely moving in the right direction.

Let’s talk about your teammates. American Reed Timmer had a great rookie season. After being his teammate for a season, does he have the talent and if so is he ready for the BBL or is another season in the Pro A or a season in Austria more beneficial for his development?

Reed is a very talented scorer. He is a great shooter and he has the strength and body control to finish with contact at the rim. His understanding of the European game definitely improved a lot as the season progressed. If he can find the right situation he could definitely play in the BBL. 

How important was a guy like Elijah Allen for the club and you? How important was his good spirit and up beat mood to keep the team calm at all times?

Elijah was a great guy for the club and probably my closest friend on the team. He is a great team guy who is always looking to do the little things and play the game the right way. He was great for us at the 3 position and really prided himself on locking up the opposing teams best player. He helped the team function better both on and off the court. 

Even if the team didn’t make the playoffs, how did the young guys profit most from 30 year old veteran Tyler Laser? What player do you feel gained the most from his presence?

Tyler has a great work ethic. He always gets extra shots after practice and takes a lot of extra time to stretch and maintain his body. He would always push the younger players to get extra shots and take time to stretch. Rookie Reed Timmer gained the most from Tyler’s example. Reed was Tyler’s shooting partner for the season, and he witnessed first hand what it takes to stay in this business for a long time. 

German Besnik Bekteshi has been around for ages, but is only 26 years old. How did his game develop further and is he still a guy that could make more of an impact in the BBL down the road?

Besnik was a great guy for us this season. He is a smooth scorer and playmaker who always plays under control. He has a veterans presence on the court and I believe he could have more of an impact in the BBL if he was placed in the right situation for his game. 

German Enosh Wolf had a very strong season. One could say his break out season as a professional. How did you see the NCAA champion develop further this season and is he a late bloomer and still talented enough for another BBL run?

Enosh had a great season. He was given an opportunity to show his abilities and he displayed them with a lot of confidence. He is a smart player who has great touch and mobility for his size. He continued to improve as the season went on and he still has room to grow as a player. He definitely has enough talent to get another opportunity at the BBL. 

How raw is Nemanja Nadjfeji? You saw him play every day. Did the absence of his father affect him or is he still on a good way as he continues to develop as a player?

Nemanja has a lot of potential as a player. He has great vision, footwork and is a very crafty player. He continued to develop even after his father left the team. He needs to continue to work on his body to develop his strength and athleticism. If he keeps working he will be great player.

Let’s talk about your game. You came to Tuebingen and got inured early and couldn’t play until February. How tough was this period for you? Was this one of your tougher injuries in your career?

I have been lucky to never have a surgery or a serious injury in my career. So when I broke my left foot the week before the first game of the season I was devastated. It was really tough because I could not do anything to rehab it for a long time. I am a very active person who loves to move and do things. Not being able to do what I love for a long period of time was really difficult for me. This was definitely the toughest injury of my career.

What did you learn about yourself and the game of basketball when you were out?

Not playing and working your butt off to get healthy must have been an adjustment. I decided to work on the mental and tactical part of the game. I am an energy player who outworks others. But learning to work smarter and more efficiently was big for my growth this season. I watched a lot of film and got to see the game from the sideline for most of the season. I asked a lot of questions to the coaching staff and the other veterans to see things from their perspective. I definitively became a more intelligent and tactical player this season. Being so active I usually do not have to get in shape, because I typically stay in good shape. But after sitting out for most of the season I had to completely start from scratch. It was a lot of hard work but I was able to rebuild my body and get back into amazing shape.

You didn’t get many minutes. How disappointing was coming back and not playing? What do you feel were the main reasons for not getting the minutes? Did you and head coach Georg Kampf not see eye to eye?

It was really challenging to come back and not play much. I think that Coach Georg had already set his rotation by the time I had come back. The team was winning with the way that he had set things and I don’t think that he wanted to mess with that. 

So you see this as a lost year? Did you get anything positive out of the Tuebingen experience?
Even though I lost a season playing, there were many positive things that I took from this experience. I learned a lot about the game, watching practices and film. This team had so many great guys and we were able to develop some real cool friendships. Tuebingen is a beautiful city with amazing fans and a great organization. I really enjoyed the way the club treated us. There was a real family environment, which can be rare in professional sports.

You stated in our last interview that you’re a late bloomer and have been playing catch up your whole career. How did the Tuebingen experience affect you mentally?
I believe that the Tuebingen experience has made me tougher mentally. You put in the work and prepare yourself for success. But things do not always go your way. I was sidelined by an injury for most of this season, and when I returned to the court I was not able to get into the rotation. Many players would be devastated by a season like this, but I focused on the positives. Tough times happen, but how you react when things get tough determine your character.

Who was the toughest player that you battled this season in the Pro A?
I am not sure. There are a lot of good players in the league.

What is the next step for you? Will you be doing some soul searching this summer about your future? Maybe playing in another country might do some good for you?

I will continue to put in work and get ready for my next opportunity. I know that I am a great player and a great teammate. I have prepared myself and I know that I will get another opportunity. I love playing in Germany and learning more about my German heritage, but I am always open to new experiences. 

You have a long summer ahead of you. On what things will you be working on most in the basketball lab as you get ready for that next opportunity?
I will be working a lot on my body this summer. I plan on increasing my functional strength, mobility and movement patterns. I want to ensure that my body will be completely healthy and that it will perform at an even higher level. I will be faster, stronger and more athletic after this off season. That should help me to continue to finish, rebound and defend at a very high level. Offensively I will continue to work on my pick and roll finishes, developing my post moves from either block, and to master spacing and making shots after penetration. 

Please name your five all-time best teammates in college and pro’s
These are some guys that I enjoyed playing with and had really good relationships both on and off the court. Ritchie Kanza Mata, Jermaine Bucknor, Elijah Allen, Mark St. Fort and Jaraun Burrows.

It’s still so early, but when all is said and done could Luka Doncic be one of the greatest Europeans that ever played in the NBA?
Luka is an extremely special talent. He definitely has a really advanced skill set and a veterans mindset at a really young age. He can definitely be one of the greatest European players to ever play in the NBA.

What was your reaction when you heard that Lebron James named himself the greatest of all-time?
I admire his confidence and self believe. However, I do not agree. I still do not think that he is greater than either Jordan or Kobe. Lebron needs to win a couple more Championships to be in the conversation. 

Charles Barkley recently proclaimed that Tom Brady Is more of a GOAT than Michael Jordan. Do you share his opinion?
That is difficult to know who is the greatest between Brady and Jordan. They are the GOAT’s of their respective sports.

Tom Brady won sixth Super Bowl. Where will he be if he wins a seventh next season?
Tom Brady is definitely the GOAT of the NFL. Another championship will only cement his legacy further.

What was the last movie that you saw?
I am a big superhero guy. I recently watched Captain Marvel, it was really enjoyable.

Thanks Robert for the chat.

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