George King is a 26 year old 198cm guard from San Antonio, Texas playing his third professional season and first with the NINNERS Chemnitz. Last season he split time with Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A) playing 16 games averaging 5.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 2FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 23.7%, FT: 89.5%; played 12 Eurocup games averaging 6.3ppg, 3.0rpg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 44.8%, FT: 90.5%, in Jan.’20 moved to Stelmet Enea BC Zielona Gora (Poland-EBL) playing 6 games averaging 8.2ppg, 4.8rpg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 66.7%; and played 5 VTB United League games averaging 10.6ppg, 5.6rpg, FGP: 37.5%, 3PT: 45.5%. In 2018 he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the second round with the #59th pick and played mainly for the Northern Arizona Suns (NBA G League) playing 40 games averaging 15.6ppg, 5.3rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 81.7%. He also played 1 NBA game for the Phoenix Suns. He played at the University of Colorado (NCAA) from 2013-2018 playing a total of 127 games and as a senior averaged 12.9ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 39.5%, FT: 78.2%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
George thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
I’m currently in Chemnitz, Germany. Basketball is treating me. The game is a roller coaster and I’m very blessed to be playing
How blessed are you to be living in Germany at the moment. It is one of the best countries to live in with COVID-19. What has been the biggest challenge for you in Germany living your life day to day?
We have Corona tests each week. I have a mask on everywhere I go. Some places are more lenient than others. The Feel Good gym where we train have tightened their protocols so everyone has to wear a mask. The only place where I don’t where a mask is on the court. The cases continue to rise. I’m adjusting and adapting to everything and doing whatever I’m asked to do.
How did you experience COVID-19 in the States the last months before coming to Germany? What was the biggest challenge for you living in Texas on a day to day basis?
The biggest challenge was being able to train. A lot of gyms were closed, but I was fortunate to have a gym where I could work out. I know many guys who weren’t as fortunate as I was. For example my teammate Virgil Matthews from Washington couldn’t use a gym there and came early to Chemnitz.
How do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man in 2020?
I got to know my family a lot better. When I left Poland in March, I went to North Carolina where I’m originally from. I spent 2.5 months there. That was the most time that I had been there since 2003. I never spent so much time there usually only a week. I saw sides of my family that I had never seen before or even knew were there. There were no gyms in North Carolina so I did a lot of face time with a friend who is playing in Italy this season. We would use a deck of cards and pick a card and then do as many sit ups and push ups as the card said.
Congrats on signing with new easyCredit BBL team NINNERS Chemnitz. After playing in Italy and Poland, what were the main reasons for coming to Germany? How important a role did the fact that they were your desired player play a role for you choosing this club?
Yes that was a big reason. I wanted to be in a situation where the team really wanted me. The feeling was mutual.
What has been your early impression of the team? It has brought in some talented Americans and kept some good players also. Where will the journey of this team go?
I feel that we can go as far as went to take it. I feel that once we have all 13 guys here and buy into what Chemnitz is known to do on the court, then I feel sky is the limit. We have the talent and depth to go far.
How much of a pleasure has it been playing with American Virgil Matthews? Does he sometime seem like a second coach on the floor?
He definitely is like a second coach on the team. That is his role and that is important for me. I wanted to join a team that had that older veteran. I got a taste of that in Poland. I saw how valuable a player like that is for me. Virgil has a lot of experience and has been here for 5 seasons. He is also important to have in the locker room.
What kind of an experience has it been playing with Terrell Harris? He moved up 2 leagues in a span of 3 years. How valuable is the chip on his shoulder for his success on the floor?
This club recruited many guys that have something to prove. Terrell has something to prove as do I. Everybody is thrown into the melting pot. So when that happens usually something good happens. We are all competitive and that’s good for everybody. This is a good opportunity for Terrell. He came here with a chip on his shoulder.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 198cm guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the bill?
In college I heard a lot of Joe Johnson. I defend more than Joe. I’m a 2 way player and kill at both ends of the court. I guess you could compare me to a Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard. Guys who score and play defense.
Head coach Rodrigo Pastore has lauded your team play, versatile play as well as your defensive skills. What do you feel is your absolute biggest strength on the court?
My versatility. Naming one strength is hard. I’m not one sided. I’m well rounded. I’m dangerous shooting, defending and rebounding.
What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t always get noticed?
Disruption. I cause a lot of havoc. I do things that aren’t seen on the stat sheet. On defense, I like to make my opponent work harder than what they would want to. I like to make a team get into their offense with 2-3 seconds less left on the clock.
On what things are you working on most on your game now so you will be best prepared for your first BBL season?
Everything in my game has to be condensed. At the moment I’m working on a lot of things. I’m really competitive and don’t want to say on what things I’m working so guys reading this will have an edge on me later on the court.
Last season you split time with Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A) playing 16 games averaging 5.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 2FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 23.7%, FT: 89.5%; played 12 Eurocup games averaging 6.3ppg, 3.0rpg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 44.8%, FT: 90.5%, in Jan.’20 moved to Stelmet Enea BC Zielona Gora (Poland-EBL) playing 6 games averaging 8.2ppg, 4.8rpg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 66.7%; and played 5 VTB United League games averaging 10.6ppg, 5.6rpg, FGP: 37.5%, 3PT: 45.5%. What was your wake up call to being in Europe for the first time where you knew that you were far away from home?
When I was in Italy at Christmas time. I remember being on the phone with my family. In college at least they would give you 48 hours at Christmas to go home. In Italy I had a light practice on Christmas and a practice the next day. It didn’t feel like Christmas to me. It just felt like another day for me.
What memories do you have of playing in Italy. You had some really talented teammates with Aaron Kraft and James Blackmon. How much easier was the whole adjustment period playing with them?
Aaron Craft has been my second favorite teammate ever. He was extremely helpful in my process of transitioning there. He took his arm around me and I talk to him anytime about anything. He retired and now is in medical school. He is a very special person. James was also important. I observed exactly how he worked on a daily basis.
What did you learn about your first season overseas that will help you overcome tough challenges in the future?
I had my bumps my first year overseas. I learned 2 important things. The most important thing is to be consistent. The other is that you have to bring it every day. People want results. Not tryers, but doers. There is never any ok, well maybe. But this is seen in any job. I got my first taste of that.
After playing in the G-League and NBA as a rookie, you played with the Utah Jazz (MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas) playing 4 games averaging 12.3ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 38.1%. was your start overseas the better option then landing on a NBA training camp roster?
Honestly I was mismanaged. I still have no clue if coming overseas was the right option at that time. I was funneled overseas. I remember asking my agent after the NBA Summer League what offers I had from the NBA. He said 0. I then said let’s give it 72 hours. The agent wanted me to be a high level player in Europe and not NBA. For me it was really hard to believe that I had no interest from the NBA. It’s hard to believe when I remember what I did and what others did and they are in good situations in the USA event though I played better
In your professional rookie season you played with the Northern Arizona Suns (NBA G League) playing 40 games averaging 15.6ppg, 5.3rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 81.7%. You played a game with the Phoenix Suns in December. How did that all come about?
I was on a 2 way contract. I was traveling with the team and I was on a road trip to San Antonio where I’m from. I remember at breakfast before the game. I spoke to coach Igor Kokoskov who now is coaching Euroleague team Fenerbahce and telling him I would go home and get some things and be back to make the bus. After a few steps he said, ‘wait George. We will activate you for tonight’s game’. I think that it was a nice gesture and guess he did it because San Antonio was my home town. I’m very thankful he did that.
You played 1 NBA game for the Phoenix Suns playing 6 minutes and getting a rebound. How cool was it having a Colorado reunion playing against your ex teammate Derrick White?
It was cool. I remember Derrick’s girlfriend being there as well as my family. Derrick and I had a connection. He came over to my family after the game and spoke with them. We also took some pictures. I have to be honest, I didn’t appreciate the weight of the situation.
What do you remember most about the 6 minutes you played? Were you in awe or were you locked in so much you couldn’t be in awe?
I wasn’t in awe. It was more just being happy and being there. I had no star gazing, but moreover knowing I was on the floor for a reason. In the short time that I was in the game, I had just started to get into the groove and break a sweat.
What will you cherish most from your brief NBA experience that you will never forget?
I had a real good veteran in Jamal Crawford. His locker was next to mine. He was a very down to earth guy. I really cherished our conversations. He did a lot of things for me. He let me know that I could talk to him about anything. He delivered each time when I needed advice.
You didn’t play with Devin Booker, but with huge talent Deandre Ayton. How good do you think will he become in the next years?
I believe that Deandre has all the tools to become the best big in the NBA. With new management on board as well as head coach Monty Williams will increase his chances of happening.
What was the best example that you witnessed in the G-League and NBA where you clearly saw that the NBA is strictly a business before anything else?
I witnessed a player in G-League training camp by the name of Wayne Mccullough. He is a first class human being. The coach wanted to see specific things in training camp. He did everything right and was killing. We did 2 a days and spent a lot of time together. Eating breakfast together and riding to the gym. At the end of the week, I was sure that he had made the team. On the day where he would find about if he made the team or not, I congratulated him. He wasn’t so sure. We rode to gym and then he found out and walked into the locker room with tears in his eyes. In a broken voice, he said he was cut. He had a flight later that day and left. Soon after I asked the assistant coach what had happened and why he got cut. He said that they had no plans to keep him and that there was nothing he could do. They already had plans not to keep him no matter what he did in practice. This is a business. I said ‘wow’. He outplayed everyone and did everything that coach asked him to do. It hit me hard. He had put everything into making the team. He cared so much. He went on to win the Canadian league title and this season is doing well in Finland.
In a typical G League shoot out you defeated South Bay 130-126 scoring 28 points. You played against so many guys in the G-League, but do you remember Isaac Bonga who scored 12 points and now has made a name for him with the Wizards as a reliable role player?
He was a young guy at the time. I remember him on the court despite being in attack mode. I didn’t think that he was so good at first, but I didn’t know that he was only 18. That changed everything. His jumper then was Ok, but he had size, length and good mechanics. Washington is a good situation for him. Last season there wasn’t a superstar there with Wall hurt. They were rebuilding and that gave him the opportunity to prove himself on the big stage.
You played at the University of Colorado (NCAA) fro0m 2013-2018 playing a total of 127 NCAA games. You reached 2 NCAA tournaments. What were your fondest memories there?
My 2 biggest memories were beating Kansas at the buzzer my freshman year. I remember them having players like Andrew Wiggins, Frank Mason JR and Tarik Black. I didn’t play much. The other memorable moment was beating Arizona in 2015 on the road. I played well hitting shots, getting dunks and steals
You hardly played as a freshman and then was red shirted. In your third year, you put up super stats averaging 13.6ppg, 4.7rpg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 45.6%, FT: 74.8%. You were voted the PAC 12’s most improved player. How did you grow as a player during your red shirt season?
I took advantage of my red shirt year and grinded hard each day. I really profited when the team was on the road. I was in the gym constantly with Josh Fortune. We were always very competitive. Plus I didn’t agree being red shirted which gave me a huge chip on my shoulder. I felt that I was better than those guys coach had playing before me. When I think back, this red shirt year was really important, because maybe I might not have been as hungry had I not been red shirted and had had that road block.
You had many special games, but how memorable were the 2 back top back wins over Washington State and Stanford where you scored 22 and 23 points?
To be honest I can’t remember those games.
How did head coach Tad Boyle groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
I learned that communication was very important. I always let the trainer know right away when I was hurt. He totally prepared me for everything. I could always go to him when I had a question.
Who won a one on one back in the day you or Spencer Dinwiddie?
We never played a normal one on one game, but I remember during a practice me getting the best of him and vice versa. I remember in a close out drill cutting him off and getting a stop. On the next play he got me with his blazing speed. We were both very competitive.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
A guy asked me this question 3 years ago and I answered Alonzo Trier. Today 3 years later I still have the same answer. I played him 9 times in the NCAA: I was always matched up against him. He was extremely hard to guard. He was always so loose. When he went to New York, coach David Fizdale said ‘I heard you could score so do it. He did. He could score in the NCAA and NBA. He got the best out of me and I got the best out of him.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time. –
I can name only 2 at the moment. My high school teammate Paul Derkowski and Aaron Craft.
Please produce your own personal NBA Mount Rushmore with heads past or present.
Jordan, Lebron, Doncic, Akeem, Kareem
What is your general opinion with the debate between who is greater Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
They are two totally different players. It is easier to compare Kobe to Jordan. Lebron is that savage playmaker and makes the right play each time. Jordan will take that last shot each time. He had like one kick out to Steve Kerr. I’m a fan of both. I don’t debate it.
What was the last movie that you saw? –
Thanks George for the chat.