Norris Cole is a 31 year old 188cm point guard from Dayton, Ohio playing his 9 professional season and first with AS Monaco Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA). In Europe he has played in countries like Israel, Italy and Montenegro and also played in China. He played 5 years in the NBA playing 410 games including 4 with the Miami Heat winning 2 titles. He also played a season with the New Orleans Pelicans. He played at Cleveland State University (NCAA) form 2007-2011 playing a total of 140 NCAA games and as a senior played 36 games averaging 21.7ppg, 5.8rpg, 5.3apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 43.9%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 85.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before the Coronavirus broke out about his basketball career.
After playing in the NBA for many years, how do you like playing in Europe? What have you learned to appreciate most from playing overseas that you never got in the NBA?
I have enjoyed my experiences in Europe. I have been able to play and learn new styles of play as well as compete against many kinds of players. It also has ben nice being able to visit and live in countries that I usually would of only visited on vacation.
Your playing your first season for AS Monaco Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA). What kind of an experience has it been living in Monte Carlo? Is it a different kind of glitz from what you encountered in Miami?
Monte Carlo is very upscale. I enjoy the swag in Monaco. The people are really laid back. I can’t wait for spring when the sun comes. Then it will be even better. I live direct on the water. There is nothing better then coming back to Monaco after a long road trip. It’s also nice waking up by the water after a hard practice.
AS Monaco Basket (France-Jeep ELITE ProA) is doing well in the France pro A league and also in the Eurocup. You played in other very strong leagues in Europe with Israel and Italy. Where would the France Pro A compare in skill to all the other leagues that you have played in in Europe?
All the leagues are different. I can’t say that one is better because there are different styles and players. The games are also called differently. I always go in with an open mind and try to adjust as best as possible and play at the highest possible level. I don’t like to compare, but just try to learn and appreciate the time. It’s like basketball. You have Hip Hop, Jazz or Reggae. All are different and none is better. You just learn to appreciate it
Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure has it been being able to play with Dee Bost? What do you appreciate most about his game and is he one of those guys that surely could of played in the NBA with his skill set?
Dee is a nice player that brings a certain special quality to the team. He can knock down the open shot, plays with high energy and plays defense. He helped me make an easier adjustment. I didn’t see him play when he was younger. You have a lot of guys that could of played in the NBA. Reaching the NBA is all about opportunity and timing. I don’t really like to judge players.
You have played with many many big men in your career, but how easy does Eric Bucknor make your game when you can fire anything up towards the basket where you know he will either get the basket or rebound?
I love playing with Buck. He never complains, but just goes hard. I told him on a play that I will pass him the ball, but he said no no you shoot it and I’ll get the rebound. That shows the high level of unselfishness he has. He is a real motor guy.
You have played for many head coaches in your career, but how demanding of a guy has Sasa Obradovic been? How do you like him as a coach?
I heard a lot about him before arriving. He knows how I tick and what gets me going.
Last season you split time with : Sidigas Avellino (Italy-Serie A) averaging 16.3ppg, 3.2rpg, 6.1apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 48.9%, 3FGP: 32.7%, FT: 71.9%; and in the Basketball Champions League averaging 16.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 6.4apg, 2FGP: 46.0%, 3FGP: 27.9%, FT: 70.7%, in Dec.’18 moved to KK Buducnost Voli Podgorica (Montenegro-Erste Liga) averaging 16.6ppg, 2.7rpg, 4.6apg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 38.0%, FT: 85.7%; in the Euroleague and 13.5ppg, 3.6rpg, 4.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 75.0% in the Adriatic league. You won your third European title with the Montenegran cup. What kind of rush did you get winning or is it difficult to get a rush when you have won two NBA rings?
You still get a rush winning a title. It still feels good, but nothing compares to winning that NBA title. That is just how it is. I have always enjoyed the moment winning my titles in Europe. I live in the moment and have appreciated all titles.
You were the third top scorer in the Euroleague. How good was that feeling being a top scorer after many years in the NBA of not having that kind of a role?
Well in that season it was good to finally be able to play free and showcase my game. I was able to show what I was capable of doing. I am a team player and have the capabilities to be aggressive. The Euroleague tactics are tougher than the NBA. I can play any role any team wants. When you play on a team with many superstars like Miami you will have a different kind of role.
Despite all the memories you had in the NBA, do you feel like the 5 game ABA playoff series loss to Crvena Zvezda is one that you will remember? You were down 0-2 then won 2 in a row where you scored 51 points and then lost game 5 by 43 points.
I remember this game for different reasons. A lot of the things that happened in that game shouldn’t of happened. I don’t like to talk about it. There was bad spitting in the game. The game was delayed for 2 hours because of misconduct. The refs took away from our season. This game should never have been played, but I’m over it.
You played your first season in Europe with Maccabi Fox Tel-Aviv (Israel-Winner League) averaging 11.8ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 23.1%, FT: 79.1%; and averaging 12.6ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 81.7%. in the Euroleague. What kind of experience was that for you and how close was the way this organization was run to an NBA team?
I really enjoyed living in Tel Aviv. For Americans this organization is about as close to an NBA organization anybody will play for. The club has many imports and the lifestyle and how the club handles things is similar to an NBA team. English is the second language. It was an easy adjustment for me.
In the 2016-2017 season you split time with the Shandong Flaming Bulls (China-CBA) averaging 19.1ppg, 2.6rpg, 4.3apg, 1.7spg, 2FGP: 45.1%, 3FGP: 28.6%, FT: 76.9%, and played 16 games with the Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) averaging 3.0ppg. Was having Jason Thompson around make the whole experience easier for you in China?
It was good having another American around with whom you could relate to. China was definitely a different experience. It was nice having him around. He was a good rebounder with a high motor. He loved to go out to eat. He was college educated and played in the NBA, so we had stuff to talk about.
You played parts of four seasons with the Miami heat winning 2 NBA titles. Which title was sweeter the one in 2012 or 2013?
I can’t chose one over the another. The first one was the first for many on that team. But winning back to back was also great. I enjoyed both despite playing more in the second one. My teammates kept telling me this isn’t normal and to enjoy the moment, They weren’t lying. Winning back to back put us in the record bookswhich made it even sweeter.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie with the Miami Heat? Did they have any special duties for rookies besides carrying luggage?
I didn’t really have to do much. I had to carry bags to the plane and get my big brother Juwon Howard coffee at shoot around. My wake up call to the NBA was the light, camera action feeling. Everywhere where we went it was light camera action. After a while this was all I knew, so it became the norm. I didn’t realize how crazy it was until it was over.
Did it feel like you were a small kid locked in a candy story with all the legends around you with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Juwon Howard Chris Bosh ETC. What fond memories do you have from your rookie year where you were able to soak in so much valuable knowledge from these guys?
I learned a lot form each guy. I played with so many other great veterans like Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, and Mike Miller. I had different conversation with each guy and picked their brains on a regular basis. I appreciated everything then as I went to work playing for the Heatles, but you can’t really appreciate it until it’s all over. When I stop playing, I will appreciate it more. When I was a Heat, I never wanted to be the weak link and just wanted to hold up my end of the deal and earnrespect with my play.
What do you remember from being teammates with Mario Chalmers? Did you guys have a good relationship and do you still keep tabs on him who is currently playing in Europe as well?
I’m not even sure where he is playing now, but he is in Europe. I had good relations with all my teammates. I never had a bad relationship with anyone.
You played one last full season in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans (NBA) averaging 10.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 42.7%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 80.0%. What memories do you have of this season? Did you feel like you had had enough of the NBA after this season?
I was productive but the team wasn’t. We had a lot of injuries. This was the first time that I hadn’t reached the playoffs after being in the finals for 3 years. You have to realize that this can happen in the NBA. You need to take the good with the bad. I had so much success early in my career. This was a learning experience for me. The league can change so fast overnight.
You played at Cleveland State from 2007-2011. You got drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. What do you feel set you apart from other guys that have had stats like that from schools in weaker conferences and not got drafted?
Not too many guys had the kind of stats that I had. I was one of the few players to average 20, 5 and 5. I played at a high level in the NCAA and against high level guys. I was a two way player that could paly well at both ends of the court. I was very competitive. That is what the NBA wanted.
You had a massive 42 point, 20 rebounds and 9 assists against Youngstown. What memories do you have of this game and did you ever feel as invincible as in this game again in your career?
That was a great game. I didn’t know that I had had that kind of game until it was over. I was so locked in and playing at another level, I knew that I had scored a lot, but had no idea I had so many rebounds. After the game everyone congratulated me saying I had made history. It happened organically. Most important was that we won. Another crazy game was my 35 points against old Dominion where I hit 8 three’s.
How did head coach Gary Waters groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career at Cleveland State?
Coach was very hard on me my freshman year. He broke my bad habits from high school and then installed good habits in the class room and on the court. That allowed me to take my game to another level. I tried to do everything the coach said 110%. I was always in the coaches office watching film on Duke’s Jason Williams or other guys like Steve Nash and Tony Parker. I tried to incorporate their games into mine. I would practice all day in the morning, noon and night. He put discipline in me and installed work ethic and character in me. He also believed in conditioning. I was able to run all day. I wouldn’t have had this success today without him.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Trevon Harmon?
I didn’t lose many one on ones then. Back then we played a lot of 5-5 open court games. I did most of the winning. Trevon was a great defender and playing him on a daily basis sharpened my skills.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that went on to play in the NBA?
I played against many great players like Gordon Hayward, John Wall, Evan Turner, Andrew Goudelock, Evan Turner, James Johnson and Isaiah Thomas.
Please construct your personal own NBA Rushmore with past or present heads?
Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson/Larry Bird
What is your opinion of who is the greatest Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Lebron is still playing but Jordan is the GOAT. Lebron is 1 of 1. There have been many great players, but no one like Lebron who is a high level scorer, elite assist and defender player
What has been your impression of Luka Doncic? You played against him in the Euroleague. Will there be greatest discussions in 20 years about him?
He is a great young talent. I knew that he would be good, but not this good. He has to continue to play at a high level and win titles. He is definitely off to a great start. Sky is the limit for him.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Rush Hour 3
Thanks Norris for the chat.