After Seeing Little Kids With Tumors All Over Their Faces Jonas Herold(Artland Dragons) Knew His ACL Was Minor Compared To Them

Jonas Herold is a 25 year old 198cm forward that is playing his third season for the Artland Dragons. Last season he played 19 games averaging 3.6ppg, 1.8rpg. He began his basketball career with BBG Herford (2.Regionalliga), and then went on to gather further basketball experience with teams like BSG Bremerhaven (2.Regionalliga), TV 1864 Salzkotten (Regionalliga), Paderborn Baskets III (Oberliga) TSV Crailsheim Merlins 2nd team (Regionalliga and the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau (ProA). He spoke to about his basketball career. 

Jonas thanks for talking to Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?

Right now I’m at home in Bielefeld at my family’s during the weekdays, I’m doing my rehab nearby in Herford. On the weekends I’m always in Quakenbrueck to be with the team. It’s a good mix for me as I still have my usual rhythm in Quakenbrueck and get to be with my teammates and coaches. Basketball wise it’s super tough at the moment, I’m not going to lie. Seeing the guys practice, play and compete sucks because you know there’s nothing you can do in order to help the team succeed on the court at the moment. I get to see the game more and more out of the coaches perspective in some regard, and it’s a terrible perspective! At the same time I’m happy that I get to spend so much time with the team, see the team develop from week to week and be able to talk to the guys and maybe help them out here and there.

You suffered a tough ACL injury just before COVID-19 hit the world. How are you feeling today and how was the rehab during COVID-19?

Currently I’m feeling quite well. I’m making constant progress and the hard work is paying off slowly. The thing bothering me the most right now is my peroneal nerve which got compressed during the injury. It’s responsible for lifting the foot and due to the injury I still can’t lift it, as the nerve is still recovering. Regarding the rehab during COVID-19 I got to say that the virus didn’t really change one bit of rehab for me. I still get to go to rehab every day, my physiotherapists and doctors are still working and available for me, which definitely is a privilege.

How tough was rehabbing in a time of COVID-19? What were the biggest challenges for you to be able to get the best treatment?

Everything stayed the same for me from March on up until now. I got to spend 3 months at Medicos.auf Schalke. where I was only one of a few pro-athletes that were able to be there and get treatment almost 24/7, so that was big-time.

With everything that you experienced off the court how do you feel did COVID-19 make you stronger as a man?

It made me a lot stronger! Especially the beginnings were extremely tough. I had surgery in Hamburg a day prior to my birthday, and on top of that nobody was allowed to pay me a visit due to the COVID-19 rules. Definitely not the best feeling in the world being stuck in bed with tons of pain, sleepless nights and nobody allowed to come by. After I was able to get out of bed it was eye-opening what I got to see. My room-mate had stage 3 bone-cancer in his thy. I saw little kids with cancer, tumors all over their face, I saw COVID-19 patients coming into the hospital. It was scary, but extremely humbling at the same time to know that the problems I have are minor compared to others destinies.

Let’s talk about your career. The Artland Dragons is your 7th team. You have seen many organizations in young years. Can you say that the Artland Dragons have become your second home?

100%! The organization treated me well from day one, and nothing has changed ever since. The way they stuck with me during my injury, by far my lowest point in my career, was incredible. I know they got my back no matter what and I’m forever grateful for that. Even though pro-sports is a business, the Artland Dragons in some regard swim against the tide. They never leave out the humanity within the business. 

How much are you itching to play again? How tough has not playing been and what have you missed the most from the game?

It’s itching like crazy! You get to see so many things from the outside during this time span you never really saw before. You would do so many things differently. You get to control your emotions even better than before because you know there’s nothing you can do. You get to understand the coaches better. You think you’d adapt your game if you should return. What I miss about the game can’t be cut down to one or two aspects. I miss everything. The practices, the shootarounds, the lifting sessions, the games, may they be good or bad, the comradery. You even get to miss the pre-season and video-sessions. What I know best is that I will never ever will take anything for granted again because nothing is guaranteed, especially not in sports. I will surely stay the ambitious athlete who hates losing more than anything, but I would deal with all of that in a whole different way.

You increased your minutes from 8 to 19 with the Artland Dragons. How do you feel has your game grown and matured in the Pro A with the Dragons?

I think my offensive game has developed quite a lot during the years with Artland. I worked a lot on my shot with coach Tuna Isler and with Florian Hartenstein previously. I set out my own personal goal in becoming somewhat of a swiss-knife on the court, being a player that has no real weakness. I worked on my shot and ballhandling, tried to strengthen my drive and skills on the defensive end. I tried to erase my weaknesses and build on my strengths. What I saw during the time at Artland is that a lot comes with experience. It might help you to gain that slight advantage over your defender, read in-game situations better and also becoming more vocal on and off-court.

One guy who played a big role in your development has been Florian Hartenstein. What was the most important things that he gave your game that you are most thankful for?

Flo had an impact especially on the offensive end. He’s definitely a player’s coach and pushed me to being more confident offensively, worked with me on my shot and also made me a more vocal player on the court. He stuck with me when I put my head down and always approached me with a positive attitude, not pulling me down but always trying to lift me up when I was too hard on myself. He was the first to give me legit game-time on Pro A level with the Dragons and I’m forever thankful for that.

Let’s talk a bit more in depth about your game? You’re a 198cm forward. If you had to compare your game to a NBA player who would best fit the description?

I really like the game of Bogdan Bogdanovic and might compare it to him. I followed his game when he was in the Euroleague with Fenerbahce already and same goes for his NBA days now. He’s not a flashy player, so am I. He’s smart on the court, sneaky and really versatile. He got a great shot, for sure a lot better than mine, is able to go all the way to the hoop and also knows how to share the ball and provide for his teammates, like I do as well. Same goes for the defensive end, versatile, smart and sneaky.

Talk a little about your biggest strengths on the court. In what direction do you want to take your game as you continue to climb the basketball ladder?

I’m coachable. As I said before, it might be the versatility and the aspect I don’t have a big weakness. I think I got a high game-IQ, became a decent shooter adding to my drive and am a good passer for my position. Defensively I’m trying to be a vocal anchor and not shying away from doing the dirty work. Looking ahead, I want to be a clear leader on and off-court. Besides that there’s always room for improvement in every aspect, maybe on my shot and ballhandling the most.

You take a lot of pride with your defensive game. How important is your defensive presence for your team?

I think it’s important to have. The last two years I was happy to play alongside my former teammate Jannes Hundt, who always was a pain in the ass for opponents guards. It was great to have another guy like that around because it makes life easier for you as well. Being a defensive presence gives the team some kind of security as well as for the coach. I’m pretty versatile for my size, which helps guarding either smaller or bigger players and also helps in the modern switching defense.

You moved around a lot in young years playing in Paderborn, Bremerhaven and Herford. What memories do you have of these times and why was it difficult staying in one place for you?

I started off in Herford but quickly went to Paderborn to play in my youth days as it was the only team I got to play on the highest youth level back in the day. As Hamed Attarbashi was my previous coach in Paderborn and then moved on to coach Bremerhaven he offered me to come and join him there when I was 16. It was a no-brainer for me as I knew what a great, developing coach he was. With that being said, I have a lot of great memories about that time. We had a lot of success in Paderborn and then in Bremerhaven when I moved away from home with 16. I had to be self-reliant in Bremerhaven, lived in a shared flat with teammates, had to handle both school and practices. We spent so much time together as a team and developed a real brotherhood that is still present today. It was a great time!

You played a season with the TSV Crailsheim Merlins 2nd team (2.Regionalliga) playing 25 games averaging 8.7ppg. How tough was this season as a 20 year old not really making steps as a player as you had to play in the second Regionalliga?

It was really tough. I got to Crailsheim the season before right around January, only to break my hand in the very first game. I was out for the season, got the chance to come back to the club but was stuck in the Regionalliga and didn’t get to practice or play with the Pro A team at that time. It was hard to keep going and keep the motivation up, but I’m thankful for the coaches Kai Buchmann and Pascal Heinrichs back then for always being hard on me, because it paid off and Tuomas Iisalo gave me a chance to present myself towards the end of the season. 

You got a taste of your first Pro A moments with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau (ProA). How thankful were you that American head coach Simon Cote gave you a chance?

Man. I’m forever thankful that I got to be around Simon. He taught me so much about what it means to be a pro. He was hard on me, made me fight adversity, made me better and tougher and a better person as well. He was a perfectionist on court and that’s what stuck with me the most. He always led by example. As I got more and more game time towards the end of that season thanks to both Simon Cote and also my current coach Tuna Isler, who was assistant coach back then and invested incredibly much time in me and my game and therefore surely is the biggest promoter during my career, I made the best out of the chances I got, played good ball and earned me a contract with the Artland Dragons.

What are your biggest goals now as a player at age 25? Is just becoming a good Pro A role player the goal or do you have BBL ambitions?

m an ambitious person, so of course my goal is to reach the next level. But for now my goal is to complete the rehab process 100%, then we’ll see.

You don’t only have basketball and play station in your head, but are an ambitious student. Talk a little about what you are studying and how challenging that is despite being a full time professional player?

I study sports science, English and psychology. I always knew for myself that I wanted to do something else besides basketball no matter what and that’s why I’m totally fine with it and the challenges that come with it. Of course it’s tough when it comes to submitting papers, learning for exams and having to do university stuff before or after practice when others are able to chill and relax. But I know that I would go crazy in my head only playing basketball and not gaining new knowledge. For me it’s a great alternation.

Who has been the toughest player that you ever faced on the court?

It’s a toss-up between Josh Richardson and Thomas Walkup. 

Who are your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Chase Griffin
Chris von Fintel
Leon Friederici 
Jona Spradley
Robert Oehle

Good players, even greater and/or funnier persons!

Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players?

Michael Jordan
LeBron James
Magic Johnson
Hakeem Olajuwon

What was the last movie/series that you saw?

I recently started ‘House of Cards’, good stuff.

Thanks Jonas for the chat.

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