After Fighting A Brutal Knee Injury Kerry Carter Has Learned That He Isn´t Built To Be A Worker But Built To Champion A Cause

Kerry Carter is a 28 year old 188cm guard from West Covina, California that last played in the 2017-2018 season with Generazione Vincente Cuore Napoli (Italy-Serie A2) playing 12 games averaging 20.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 4.0apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 44.6%, 3FGP: 37.6%, FT: 76.0%, in Jan.’18 moved to Hapoel Haifa (Israel-National League) playing 10 games averaging 19.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.3apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 74.3%. In 2016-2017 he played with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Germany-ProB) playing 24 games: Score-1 (24.8ppg), 4.0rpg, 5.2apg, Steals-2 (2.9spg), FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 84.2%. He racked up All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Player of the Year -17, All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Guard of the Year -17, All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 1st Team -17, German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Imports Team -17, and German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Defensive Team -17. As a rookie he played for Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 5 games: 3.2ppg. He started his basketball career with Citrus College and then moved to St.Mary’s, CA (NCAA) where he played 63 NCAA games and as senior played 31 games averaging 12.1ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.5spg. He spoke to during COVID-19 in 2020.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Kerry Carter after he scored 31 points in a tough 92-87 loss in Rhondorf in 2016

Hi Kerry Our last interview was from September 2017 as you had arrived in Italy. How fast has time flown by and what have you missed most about basketball?

Miles, thanks for having me. Seems like the days are long but the weeks fly by. In regards to basketball I miss competing more than anything. There’s nothing like going to battle every night and putting your preparation to the test. That and some of the lifelong relationships you make through the game. 

where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?

I’m home in California. Since the beginning of the pandemic my mindset has been to win the wait. A mentor of mine told me that there are winners and losers whenever there are interruptions like this. So, I’ve made it a point to ensure that I come out of it all as one of the winners. 

When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?

This has been kind of a black swan event for me. I have never seen anything like this so I didn’t really know what to expect. I see now why people who have lived through serious historic events like the Great Depression take such precautious measures now. When you’ve never seen anything like it though, you don’t understand the fragility of it all and how quickly normalcy can be taken away. 

How Have you experienced the day to day life in West Covina? How has the general public there accepted the Coronavirus?

Daily life back home is different. You see a general feeling of fear with all of this because people don’t really understand it. The energy is different. 

Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing

I’ve always been a bit of a germophobe with that stuff, staying clear of people who appear sick and I don’t really like to dap up unless I really know somebody. This stuff has only reaffirmed that for me. 

Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. Have you had any contact to ex teammates and friends that have been overseas?

Definitely. LA is one of the hubs for basketball talent so I have talked to a lot of guys that are back home due to having seasons cut short and some that live in other areas as well. There’s generally a lot of mixed feelings about how all this has unfolded. 

Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?

I know guys have expressed different opinions but for me, I’m a true competitor through and through. I don’t care who’s in the building I’m trying to win. So as much as the fans contribute to the atmosphere, I think guys just have to get back to the root of it all and remember why they do it. It’s a blessing to play the game, no matter who’s watching, especially when you get paid to do it.

What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?

I’ve had to switch gears from being a player. I stay in shape and in the back of my mind there was always a belief that I would go back and play. But these times have shown me that it’s bigger than hoops. I can take that passion I have for the game and apply it to anything and be successful. Ultimately, I learned the importance of knowing my WHY and making sure every decision I make aligns with a clear set of core values. 

You have been recovering from injury. Have you been able to keep in shape at home? What kind of exercises have you been able to do and do you have a specific routine?

Absolutely. I have a ton of equipment at home so this time has been extremely productive for me from a physical standpoint. From resistance bands to Viprs to kettlebells. I’ve been able to really get after it now that there’s a little more downtime. 

The whole world economy is going to be affected including Italian basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?

I think there will be a huge discrepancy between price and value for a lot of players. As the global economy tanks, so do team’s resources so it will be interesting to see which teams manage financial hardship best. This is going to be a make or break deal for a lot of organizations that can’t afford to have many mistakes. 

How has your approach to family changed since the outbreak of Corona? What things have you seen yourself do that you may not have done before?

Being that I didn’t play this year, my time was dominated by work schedule. I found time to get my workouts in and I am almost done with my master’s degree but there wasn’t time for much else. The family aspect has benefitted the most from all of this. The amount of time I’ve been able to spend working on my relationship and being there for my queen has been a blessing. 

You missed the last 2 seasons due to injury. How tough have this time been for you? Has there been a specific person that has been the biggest help besides family?

When I had my surgery, it was a revelation for me to just how special my girl really is. Anybody who’s been through a knee surgery knows how vulnerable you are during the recovery process. I couldn’t even put my socks on by myself and to just make myself something to eat required an effort that would put me in a full sweat. On top of that you’re not able to workout like you used to or do some of the things that brought you peace to begin with. She held it down for me and did all of the little things to make me feel comfortable on top of being my emotional support. 

Talk a little about the injury you had and how your rehabilitation period went? Are you 100% again and ready to go again with basketball?

My injury was a combination of things. I initially had a strained ACL and that’s when it started giving me problems. From there I learned that I had basically destroyed the cartilage in my knee and had to get it replaced. The rehabilitation period was great and I’m now almost 15 months post op so I’m back to 100%.

What did you learn about yourself in the last two years that allowed you to get through this tough period?

That’s a loaded question. Some things I learned and some things were reaffirmed. One of the things I learned is that I’m not built to be a worker, I’m built to champion a cause. Whatever I’m doing has to be a direct reflection of my purpose or I’m not going to reach my potential. 

You haven’t played in two seasons. Are you a bit nervous what will await this summer with the Coronavirus effect and you long absence of how teams will pursue you?

Not at all. What’s for me won’t miss me. What misses me isn’t for me. I firmly believe it will all work out as it’s meant to. 

After missing two full seasons, how will you start training on the court again to get back to the type of player you once was?

First thing I had to do was get my body ready for the impact of the game. I had to get back into physical shape. I was coaching and jumping in on scout so I got a ton of live reps this year against some young guys who are hungry to prove themselves. From there it was just about getting my rhythm and my feel for the game back. 

You had an amazing season in Germany and made the next step in Italy and Israel. How intense are your own mind games concerning how well you will find back to your game?

Being away from the game made me appreciate the present moment. I’m not stressing over things I can’t control and there’s even less reason to stress if I can control it. I’ve been able to explore meditation and mental stimulation in a lot of ways that calms the mind so that hasn’t been an issue for me. 

In your last season you split time with Generazione Vincente Cuore Napoli (Italy-Serie A2) averaging 20.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 4.0apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 44.6%, 3FGP: 37.6%, FT: 76.0%, in Jan.’18 moved to Hapoel Haifa (Israel-National League) averaging 19.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.3apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 74.3%. Were you proud of your achievements with your game or was it something expected simply after coming from the German Pro B which was a lower league?

I expected to have a better turnover ratio, better shooting percentage and FT%, but most importantly more wins. I never got a championship and if I could go back I would make more strategic decisions to put me in a position to help a team win one. 

After making the next step in Italy and Israel as a player how do you feel did you make the next step in your game as a player? After Germany you stated you made this step with the fluidity your game changed and you felt more comfortable in certain situatiosn where you usually rushed things. What new steps did you make in Italy and Israel?

I became more comfortable on the ball and making the right reads in pick & roll situations. I focused on getting to the midrange instead of all the way to the basket sometimes so I could be a threat before the help would get there. I didn’t like how sped up I got at times so I tried to just let the game come to me. 

You recently began a Podcast called ‘Feed The Fam’. How did you come up with the idea and what is your goal with the program?

The goal is to just have an authentic space to share content. There are so many creative people that want to share their knowledge and help others. The objective is to collaborate and bring them together in a place that can be mutually beneficial for them and anyone listening. 

Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?

No but he’s special and he definitely put the world on notice. 

Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence? 

I was at home. Growing up in LA, Kobe is a huge part of the culture and he is a large part of why I took basketball so seriously. The finals series between him and Allen Iverson changed my life. 

How bitter is it that the NCAA March Madness has been canceled? This tournament for some kids is the greatest time of their lives. What advice would you give that senior who worked hard for 4 years and would have had his one and only chance now?

It was a really unfortunate situation for a lot of programs. To work that hard and not have the opportunity to play on that stage is tough. I would tell the seniors to stay patient and win the psychological. You have to have supreme faith that everything will work out. Doubt is the enemy, especially for the rookies. 

What was the last movie that you saw?

Above the Rim. 

Thanks Kerry for the chat.

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