Ricky Ledo is a 28 year old 201cm forward from Providence, Rhode Island who recently finished his 7th professional season and first with Anwil Wloclawek (Poland-EBL) averaging 16.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 4.5apg, Steals-4 (2.0spg), FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 79.7%. He never played in the NCAA, but was drafted by the Drafted by Milwaukee Bucks in the second round at #49 in 2013. From 2013-2016 he played in the States in the NBA and D-League. He played 28 NBA games with the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks and also played in the G-League with the Texas Legends and Reno Bighorns. He has played overseas since 2016 playing in countries like Turkey, Spain and Italy. He also played in China with the Beijing Dragons (China-CBA) averaging 32.5ppg, 9.6rpg, 5.3apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 29.5%, FT: 77.5%. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the Coronavirus crisis.
Hi Ricky 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 back home in Providence, Rhode Island with my family. My mood is ok, but the shut down isn’t a great feeling, but at the same time it’s like a blessing being able to spend time with my family which I usually didn’t have at this point in the season.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
When I started hearing more about it, I knew it was serious. I knew quickly that I didn’t want to be in Europe when the shut down came and be alone. I wanted to see which would be the safest and smartest thing to do and kept an eye on the situation. Then the season was canceled and I returned home.
How have you experienced the day to day life in Poland during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
It was normal at the time and hadn’t become that bad yet. When the boarders were closed down and I had 48 hours to leave and the season was cancelled I saw to it that I would leave.
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’m lucky that I have never been in the line of fire when someone coughs. When I grew up I learned how to handle myself in those kind of situations.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
It was definitely very very disappointing. We had a great team with Anwil. We won both Cups and were in second place in the Polish league. We also played solid in the BCL. We had the chance to be the first Polish team to win all 3 national titles.
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 don’t really like it. You play for the love of the game, but you also need the fans there. We as players feed off the fans and they give you energy and help you get into the game.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
This whole crisis really hasn’t affected me in that regard. I had an upbringing that helped me become mentally strong. I was already away from home at a young age going to prep schools so I was far away from my family at a young age. I was used to isolation.
Wil it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
It depends on the player. Some guys will take longer off before getting back into the gym. I haven’t been doing anything yet just resting and recovering from season. But I will get back into my routine and get into rhythm. There is nothing else like it.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish 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?
There isn’t really anything you can do at the moment. I’m just waiting like everyone else. It will all be resolved at some time. Even if it means playing without fans for a while. I will weigh my options and continue to wait and see what happens.
How have you experienced the day to day life back home in the States? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls.
I haven’t started to work out yet. Like I said I’m just resting and spending a lot of time with my family laughing and joking.
If you had to name another player besides guys from Anwil that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?
Just my normal friends. From Anwil keeping in touch with Tony Wroten.
You played your fourth season in Europe after playing your first 3 seasons in the NBA and G-League. How much is the NBA still on your mind and even if guys are returning back there still seems to be many many guys that don’t. Why does it still seem difficult for an NBA player after going to Europe for some reasons to go back?
I don’t think that that is a correct statement. The NBA is always in the back of my mind. I know that I’m talented and know what I can do. I have always succeeded where ever I have played in my career. To play in the NBA, it’s all about being in the right situation at the right time. I believe you are seeing players at the moment getting a second chance more than ever now. The NBA takes the Euroleague very seriously.
The trend in the NBA now for years has been believing in the young guys. A Vince Carter type of player that is older is dying out. Why do you believe has the NBA gotten younger instead of trying to keep the flair of having those experienced guys stay?
The NBA is exciting and the league now is like back in the day when guys were coming out of high school. The talented young kids of today are doing stuff that the older guys can’t do. That is just how the NBA is now. You keep seeing less and less guys staying 4 years in school.
Another season another country. You have played in various countries and this season it was with Anwil. What did you appreciate most about the Polish experience on and off the court?
The Anwil fans were the best and some of the best I ever played for. They were always at away games and it felt like home there. They had some real diehard fans and that helped me have one of my best seasons in my career. Off the court I appreciate most being able to gain relationships with my teammates
How much of a pleasure was it being teammates with Tony Wroten. He said in my interview he had no problems talking about the NBA when he was in Poland. Did you guys exchange some stories of the NBA?
We were neighbors in Poland and we hung out every day. He is my guy. We talked a lot about the NBA and how we had transitioned to Europe and how trying to get back to the NBA.
Last season you split time in Italy and China with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (Italy-Serie A) averaging 23.5ppg, 4.9rpg, 3.4apg, 2FGP: 47.0%, 3FGP: 31.6%, FT: 71.7%, left in Nov.’18, in Jan.’19 moved to Beijing Dragons (China-CBA) averaging: 32.5ppg, 9.6rpg, 5.3apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 29.5%, FT: 77.5%. What kind of experience was China. What are the main differences between the NBA and CBA in terms of defensive effort?
They definitely play defense in China. If you want to play in China and be successful you have to be a scorer. What many might not know not everyone that goes to China succeeds. There have been high level NBA players that didn’t succeed in China. The difference in China is that your the man there. You are given a special confidence which you had in high school. They let you be the player you can be and you don’t have to worry about looking over your shoulder. You get the freedom. They play with a lot of effort in China and guys play their hearts out.
You were putting up amazing stats in Italy including a 41 points explosion against Cantu and then continued so in China. Was this some of the best basketball that you played in your professional career?
Yes last season was one of my best season’s scoring wise. I was in great shape and that had a lot to do with the weight training of the organization. I thank them for that. My being in great shape showed on the court.
In 2017-2018 you split time with Anadolu Efes Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) averaging 12.2ppg, 5.5rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 29.0%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 95.7%; and in the Euroleague averaged 8.6ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 33.8%, 3PT: 26.4%, FT: 61.1%, in Jan.’18 moved to Wisconsin Herd (NBA G League, starting five) averaging 15.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.7apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 45.6%, 3FGP: 33.3%, FT: 96.4%. How beneficial was it playing Euroleague? What part of your game benefited the most there?
It was my second year in Europe and playing Euroleague really helped me learn the game better. The reason I left in mid season was because my dad passed away. He was my best friend. I wanted to be near my family. I loved the pace of the Euroleague and being able to learn different defenses and there were good players everywhere.
You finished the season in the G-League with the Wisconsin Herd putting up respectable stats. Besides going there to be near family did you get some interest from teams and the tip to play in the G-league again or was that NBA dream itching harder again?
At that stage I didn’t think of the NBA. I mean I’m not about playing in the G-League for pennies. I am a grown man with a little daughter and have to do what is beneficial for my family. I have established myself in Europe and it isn’t bad. There are guys in Europe making more money than guys in the NBA
You have had many memorable games as a professional but was your 21 points in the 89-85 Euroleague victory against FC Barcelona one that you may always remember?
This was a tough time for me. My father had just passed away and I had been in a slump. I really needed that game to get over the hump. It was a road win and it was nice playing against my childhood friend Rakim Sanders.
Is Erik Mccullum one of those guys that could play in the NBA with his lethal scoring, but just gets lost in the prominent guard shuffle?
So many guys can play play in the NBA. All it takes is having the right opportunity and having a coach that likes you and your all set.
In 2016-2017 you played your first season overseas splitting time with Yesilgiresun Belediye (Turkey-BSL) leading he league in scoring 21.2ppg), 6.3rpg, 2.8apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 43.4%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 81.8%, then joined Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz (Spain-Liga ACB) averaging 9.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 65.4%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 88.9%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home?
The first couple of weeks were tough, but I was lucky and glad that having gone to prep school prepared me. I adjusted well off the court and did the same on the court. I proved that I could play in Europe because the domestic Turkish league is one of the best in Europe.
You had some massive games in Turkey scoring 40 points or more twice. How quickly did you realize that your game can translate to anyplace?
I feel like my game translates to anyplace. I have the self confidence to be able to walk in anywhere and be the man. My self confidence gives me a boost showing I am the boss.
In Spain with Baskonia you were teammates with Shane Larkin and Johannes Voigtmann. Who was the best point guard this season in Europe him or Mike James and do you feel like Voigtmann is an NBA player?
Shane is my guy We played together in the NBA with Dallas and New York. That is tough. Mike also had a great year. Shane and Efes were in a better position than Mike and CSKA. Plus Shane had two 40 point games. I would go with Shane. But Mike is also a dog. Both should be in the NBA. Joe is a beast. He has been one of the best versatile big men that I have played with. He made life easier for me on the court. He also was one of the best passing big men that I have played with. He is so versatile and could play in the NBA. More and more Europeans are coming back to Europe. I would like to get back to the NBA. You get treated so well there.
In your third professional season you played with the Reno Bighorns (D-League) averaging 21.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.8apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 46.1%, 3FGP: 40.2%, FT: 81.9%. Do you feel like you were close to an NBA call up and how disappointing was it not getting one?
I thought that I would get a NBA call up, but didn’t. I had many 30 point games. I was surprised that I didn’t get a call up. I talked a lot with my agent who was telling me what was going on. I shot over 40% from outside and was having a great season. Everything happens for a reason.
Please describe how the NBA will always be a business first before anything else? Do you remember experiencing players coming and going where the NBA organization had little concern for the feelings for the player?
Just look at Harrison Barnes. He got traded during a game. You see so many different situations in the NBA with many guys getting effected. Demarcus Cousins is the man and then he gets an injury and nobody wants him is another good example. Carmelo Anthony is another good example. He is back now with Portland and played well. Now everyone wants him again while before no one did.
Between 2013-2015 you played a total of 28 NBA games,16 with the Dallas Mavericks and 12 with the New York Knicks. I have interviewed guys in the past that also had minimal NBA experience but in their youth didn’t necessarily do everything so they could have a better chance of staying in the NBA. When you look back at your time there, do you feel like you did everything in your power to remain or were you a bit naeve in certain things because of your youth?
I don’t think that I did everything in my power to stay. I had a lot of eagerness then to play. I hadn’t played in college and just wanted to play. In my first year with Dallas, I was working veryhard, but only playing sometimes. In my second year, I thought I was playing really well in practice and in the D-League. I was young and just didn’t understand the situation. I could of definitely done something different. I didn’t understand New York. I felt that I deserved more of a chance with them. I saw that the NBA was a business. In Dallas it was a win now situation.
Please talk about your experiences with Dirk Nowitzki. What is a memory you have of him what really defined him as the player and person that he really was?
Dirk was so cool. He was a big goof ball, but so cool. He was a real hard worker and great person.
You played together with 3 amazing players with Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Monta Ellis. Please talk a bit about each guy and what it meant being able to soak up as much basketball information as possible?
All 3 led by example. Tyson Chandler was another guy who always came early while Dirk stayed late. I saw the type of work ethic that they had and tried to follow. Carter and Ellis gave me many words of wisdom. There were some real gems in there. Shawn was also a cool guy.
You also played 12 NBA games with the New York Knicks. You scored a NBA career high 21 points in a loss to Washington. What do you remember most about this game?
That game proved to me that I could score at any level. I was in a groove at that time. I thought I was playing well at that point getting around 15 minutes something I didn’t get with Dallas. That game was life changing and a dream come true being able to play at Madison Square Garden
When you look back at your NBA career what did you appreciate most about it?
I lived out my dream playing in The NBA and It is still my dream to get back
How tough was it never playing in the NCAA with Providence? Do you sometimes wonder where your career may have gone had you played in the NCAA?
Yes I do wonder how my career may have gone differently. When my career is over I will explain this with a book or tell all film. I wish that I could of played in the NCAA. At that time though it was better to go and leave Providence. I did all I possibly could to play but got screwed. I wish that I could of played in front of family and friends. I believe that had I played in the NCAA I could have been an NBA lottery pick.
Who was the toughest player you ever battled?
Monta Ellis. He was a tough player that was so quick and could shoot the ball.
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past and present players?
Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Lebron plus Iverson-Penny Hardaway
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant? How much of an effect did he have on your life growing up?
I was at home. I talked to my older brother on the phone and we were crying. Kobe was the reason why I started to play basketball. I remember being him on the court turning around shooting and yelling Kobe.
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?
That is so tough for those kids. They should really be credited for another season. Playing in the tournament means so much to the players. It is important for seniors making their first appearance and for guys that want to be drafted.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Ricky for the chat.