One Last Professional Basketball Player Conversation With Derrick Allen

Derrick Allen amazed basketball fans in Europe for 16 years including 14 years in Germany. He gave fans in many cities many unforgettable nights as he played two seasons with BG Karlsruhe, one season for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen, three seasons for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners, two years with Alba Berlin and also wore the jersey for teams like the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven, Braunschweig, Rasta Vechta and Science City Jena. At the end of 16 seasons, he won two titles in Iceland and a league title in Belgium. He reached the BBL final with Frankfurt in 2010 and 2011 with Alba Berlin. He played a total number of 477 BBL games and as a professional including his short stint with the Southern Crescent Lightning (WBA) in 2004 a total of 642 professional games. He spoke to eurobasket about his 16 year professional career.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber conducting a post game inetrview with Derrick Allen during his time with the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in the 2007-2008 season

Derrick thanks for taking time to talk to Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?

My summer has been great, I’ve just been working out and speaking time with family at our home in Cumming, Georgia.

I have been covering you for 15 years since your early time with BG Karlsruhe. I will always remember you as a role model for everyone. A guy who played the game with a passion and had those mind boggling and dizzy like moves in the paint. How will you always remember me?

I will remember you miles as a guy who changed the way journalism is done in Germany. It’s fun to read your columns, and you do a lot of great interviews. Something Americans need more of in Europe!

You have announced your retirement at the age of 39 years old. If someone had told you in the fall of 2003 as you were making first experiences as a professional player in Iceland with Iprottabandalag Keflavikur that you would be play 16 professional seasons how would you have responded then?

Man I wouldn’t have believed them. I told my self I wanted to play until I was 35. But when I got to that age, I felt so well physically that I just kept playing.

A day before you announced your retirement via the social media,your ex teammate with Science jena Dru Joyce did the same saying he had joined the Cleveland State coaching staff. Did you have a talk with him earlier in the summer about the possibility of retiring?

I saw Dru in Vegas this summer for NBA summer league. We talked more about family life & basketball more than anything .

How tough was your decision to make this step to hang up your jersey. It seemed lie your family had a big part of it? 

It wasn’t a tough decision at all. I could have continued to play the waiting game. Or go play in Asia for one more year, but I didn’t want to do that. My family always comes first, and I thought about what my next steps would be.

I always said you were like a 28 year old in body and mind instead of your actual age. How were you feeling this summer. How many more years could you still have played?

No my body feels great, I trained the whole summer like I was playing this upcoming season. My decision about retiring came about 2 weeks ago. I had my mind set on playing just one more year! I didn’t like the way we finished the season in Jena. Dropping out of the league, and then retiring was not what I wanted to do.

You know my interviews are unending so I will try to make it as short as possible and go back from the start to the present. You began your college career at Southern Union State CC in 1998 and played two seasons then. How important was it for your early development and mentally for going this route. Did having to start at the bottom give you a type of chip on your shoulder that helped shape your unbelievable work ethic that you would carry with you your whole career?

Absolutely, playing in junior college made me hungry until the last day I walked off the court. I wasn’t highly recruited in high school. So all my basketball career, I’ve had to prove myself.

You then finished at Mississippi (NCAA) averaging 9,2ppg and 8,2ppg in your last two seasons. How vital was head coach Rod Barnes for your development from a college player into a professional player? How did he groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?

Playing in the SEC was great for me. Playing against some of the best in college basketball. Playing for Coach Barnes taught me about life, how to be a man, and don’t make excuses.

You played your rookie season with Iprottabandalag Keflavikur (Iceland-Epson League) putting up big time stats FIBA Europe Cup: 8 games: 26.6ppg, 9.4rpg, 2.5apg, 1.8spg; Icelandic League: 22 games: 23,4ppg, 10.5rpg. What memories do you have of your rookie season? You won your first two titles with them.

My memories from Iceland were. I just got cut from a team in France (Bolouzac), and I was ready to do damage in that league. I played with some wonderful guys there. Who made my 1st full season in Europe one to remember.

You then came to Germany and played two seasons with BG Karlsruhe. You quickly became a top forward in the league. Here you began your long tour in your career playing with amazing teammates. How important was veteran Narcisse Ewodo for your first two seasons in Germany. What do you remember being able to soak up most from his presence on and off the court?

Narcisse was true Veteran player who just knew how to score. He did that in every league he played in. That’s what most I learned from Narcisse.

You then played with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Germany-1.Bundesliga) playing 38 games: Score-1 (16.5ppg), 7.3rpg, 1.2apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 50.6%, 3FGP: 32.3%, FT: 72.2%. You led the BBL in scoring. You had many great seasons as a professional, but in terms of your own play was this your best season concerning your game?

My year in Leverkusen was a good. We made the playoffs, and that help me kind of take another step in my career.

You were teammates with Nate Fox who passed away a few years ago. He was the type of player that the home fans loved and opponents fans hated. What will you remember most from his game and character?

Nate was one of the best teammates I ever had. It’s truly sad that he’s not here with us anymore.

You then played three years with the Frankfurt Skyliners.from 2007-2010. It was the longest stint that you had as a professional with one team. You had a very close relationship with the fans. Is it fair to say that your stay in Frankfurt was your most cherished in your professional career?

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Derrick Allen in the BCM training facility in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is like home for me! That’s where I grew the most as a player. The organization, fans, and my former coaches & teammates all have a special place in my heart.

On any normal day what phrase do you think did you hear more? D.A or Babbba (referring to head coach Murat Didin’s nickname?

DA I heard most from my teammates and the staff in Frankfurt. I only heard Bubba from Murat! He taught me how to look at the game differently, so I could become an elite player. I’m grateful for all the things I learned from Murat.

You made a slow progression as a professional in Germany making your way to the top. Finally in 2010 you signed with Alba Berlin six seasons since starting in Germany. Do feel like if you had come up later as a player that you may have made the jump to a top team quicker?

No, everything happens for reason! I’m very glad with how my career went. And the time it took me to play for a team like Alba.

You played two seasons with Alba Berlin from 2010-2012. You had so much talent around you. Was this when you were in your prime? How do you feel did your game grow in these two years?

Playing with great players makes the game, so easy for you. It makes you want to step up your game, and be ready for every practice or game.

You then played a season with Belgacom Spirou (Belgium-Ethias League) averaging 10.4ppg, 4.5rpg, FGP: 56.7%, FT: 65.1%; EuroCup: 5 games: 12.4ppg, 5.4rpg, FGP: 50.0%, FT: 76.9%. You won the Belgium title. What was so special about this team that gave you your last title as a professional?

Well we didn’t win the title that season. It’s a Eurobasket mistake! Lol, but guys on that team I still talk with this team. On that Charleroi team, we just had a lot of good genuine people on the team.

You returned to Germany and played with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. How tough was this season after playing many years of having success? What memories do you have of Bremerhaven and the sea from a guy coming from Alabama?

It wasn’t tough at all! You play with great teams, and you play with teams who play to stay in the league. I’ve done both in my career. My best memory of Bremerhaven, was finding out my wife was pregnant with our first child.

You then played a season with the Basketball Loewen Braunschweig (Germany-BBL) playing 34 games averaging 10.1ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 57.4%, FT: 60.2%. Here you were teammates for the first time with Dru Joyce. The second time came with Science City Jena. How special of a teammate was he and how much easier did he make your game?

Dru is just a great dude, and good family guy. My family and his family hung out a lot during our time in Braunschweig. Also he’s a great guy to play with on a team.

You then played two seasons with Rasta Vechta helping the club move up to the BBL in 2016. How special was this season moving up and was the fanatic atmosphere the best you ever witnessed with all the teams you played with?

Playing in Vechta was great! They probably have the best fans in the league.

You finished your career in Jena playing 65 BBL games with them. What did it mean to you finishing your career with BBL legends Immanuel Mcelroy and Julius Jenkins. You had played with both before in Berlin. What did they mean to you having them as teammates?

Playing with Mac & Julius meant everything. We are all like brothers, and it was so easy to play with them again in Jena. Playing together again was amazing.

You averaged double figures in scoring in 12 of 14 seasons in the BBL. Obviously your work ethic had much to do with your consistency. Was work ethic for you as normal as it is for a person riding a bike or driving a car? Where did you get this discipline from?

I got my work ethic from my mom. She showed me with discipline & hard work you can achieve anything.

You had an unforgettable 16 year professional career. What will you miss the most from being a professional 

I miss the daily grind of getting ready for practice, being around the guys, and just playing the games on the weekends. I’m a basketball junkie, always have been.

The fans loved you in Germany. Please give a last parting message to the fans.

To the fans: Thank you for all of your support during these 14years in Germany. It’s been great to share many memories with you guys. Although I’m retiring from basketball. I will remain around the game, and I’m sure our paths will cross again. DA15

Thanks D.A for the great memories on the court!

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