When I skimmed my basketball working calendar in January 2020, I had some real serious basketball highlights that would even have given Scooby Doo a run for the money with his share of treats that he usually received on a daily basis. I had waited a long long time to finally catch my buddy 4 time Euroleague champion Kyle Hines play live again. I had last seen him his first season in Germany with Bamberg in 2010-2011 and then never again. It was actually my own fault as I was too lazy to make the 2 hour drive to Bamberg to see him battle in Euroleague from 2011-2020. I saw him help his team CSKA Moscow to a road win in Munich. A few weeks later, I was on my usual annual return home to Boston to see my family and during my stay was able to see the Los Angeles Lakers close up. Meeting the legendary Jason Kidd and getting a selfie and then observing as Lebron James made the 30 yard walk from the hotel entrance to the bus which I captured with a video a moment that I will never forget. I mean seriously how often can one get that close to the planet´s best player? Squeezed in between these two very memorable experiences was a NBBL game between Eintracht Frankfurt-Fraport Skyliners and BBC Porsche Ludwigsburg. At first glance watching a German U-19 game couldn´t be anywhere close to being as eventful as meeting the Euroleague´s best player Mike James and having Lebron James next to you for a split second, but for me even this youth game had weight with me. A few years ago an unknown Isaac Bonga learned his basketball trade in Frankfurt on that court and on this day Ludwigsburg were sporting vast talent with the Patrick brothers Jacob and Johannes as well as other German Lukas Herzog and possible future NBA Draft Prospect Ariel Huckporti. January 2020 was a basketball smorgasboard for me with all types of amazing players that I could see, but there was also an interesting head coach that was barking commands on the sideline. American David Gale of BBC Porsche Ludwigsburg was in the building. He has had a very interesting and noteworthy basketball career ranging from the NBA/G-League to Germany and now has made the next step to Lithuania. For Gale, hearing all these names was like a basketball reunion as he has had connections to all in some way. “I grew up watching & wanting to be Jason Kidd while he was playing at Cal. I played against Lebron on a few different occasions on the AAU circuit & at Adidas ABCD camp. All these pro’s & legends started off playing with youth teams & built themselves to the point they’re at now. Hopefully, one day, we’ll be talking about Ariel, the Patrick´s, Lukas, in the same breath as Pro’s we are watching at the highest levels today”, stressed David Gale.
David Gale was born on June 3, 1984 in Sherman Oaks, California. He spent some time as an adolescent on the east coast attending Brewester Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He then attended Loyola University of Chicago (NCAA), but quickly realized that a professional playing career wouldn´t be in his cards. He didn´t play much, but still made some valuable memories reaching two Horizon League Tournament Semifinals in 2006 and 2007 and was a USA Selection for the Maccabi International Games in Australia in 2006. As is often the case for guys that aren´t talented enough to go the playing route, one often finds another talent and desire and for him it was coaching. “While at Loyola, I didn’t play nearly as much as I had hoped however, the upside to that was being able to change my mentality and start to train my mind to be a coach. Coach Patrick Baldwin, now the Head Coach at UW-Milwaukee, was extremely influential in helping me to see the game from a coachs standpoint. At the same time, as I look back upon my time at Loyola, my player development work started during my senior year, going to the gym with my teammate & European basketball legend at this point, Blake Schilb. I think during my senior year at Loyola, I realized that working for an NBA organization, most likely in coaching, was what I wanted to do”, remembered David Gale. He really didn´t waste any time seeking vital opportunities which then led to added contacts and new relationships. Already as a student at Loyola, he was able to sample those first key experiences at the NBA Summer League being a video coordinator from 2004-2007. It also didn´t hurt that already at the age of 10 he worked together with Neil Olshey who then was a trainer and later would be the assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. He got his first NBA gig with the Clippers where he stayed from 2007-2011. His NBA journey then continued with the Toronto Raptors from 2011-2017 where he was an assistant coach with the Raptors and farm team and sustained his most successful time and then was with the Delaware 87ers where he was also an assistant. He wouldn´t trade his time with all three experiences for anything in the world. “Each organization & each coaching staff I was privileged enough to be around was invaluable. With the Clippers, I began to understand the commitment it took to be a coach. With the Raptors, I learned the importance of consistency, accountability & thinking outside the box. Not just that, but my time in Toronto was when I feel I grew the most as a man off the court as well. In Philadelphia, I was able to develop more of my defensive mentality and continue to develop my player development philosophy, working with some great young players. All 3 organizations helped me to develop my overall coaching philosophy and to help shape most of my ideas about being a successful coach & leader”, stressed David Gale. The American was able to really shape his coaching horizon in his 6 years with Toronto, because he had the luxury to have worked with so many amazing people. “The Raptors have a very collaborative approach to building a successful culture. No detail is too small and no individuals voice is too insignificant. From the top down, they really focus on every step of making winning & player development the priority. I was fortunate enough to learn from Coaches such as Dwane Casey, Jesse Mermuys, Nick Nurse, Billy Bayno, Jerry Stackhouse, Eric Hughes and front office executives such as Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster, Bryan Colangelo, Marc Eversley, Jeff Weltman & Ed Stefanski. The culture of winning & player development, focused on relationship building & attention to detail is truly second to none in the NBA and G-League”, stressed David Gale. In the last years the Raptors organization have come along way with the pinnacle being the 2019 NBA title. It is obvious that Gale profited highly from being able to work with so many talented guys on and off the court. “Building relationships & developing players is truly the focus of the entire organization. The players with whom I’m still in contact regularly are Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, DeMar DeRozan, Bruno Caboclo & Greivis Vasquez. I spent hours in the gym, time with off the court, learnt about their families and life outside of basketball and with that, you build life long relationships focused on so much more than just basketball”, warned David Gale.
After a year in the Philadelphia 76ers organization, he proceeded to take on a new challenge and went overseas to Germany. He spent two years in the MHP Riesen organization acting as a easyCredit BBL assistant coach under John Patrick and also coached their NBBL(U-19 team) where he won NBBL coach of the year in 2020. He and his NBBL team BBC Porsche Ludwigsburg were rolling during the season and then out of nowhere COVID-19 arrived wiping out the magical season that ended abruptly. He remained in Germany until the end of June and then headed to Toronto to visit his wife´s family. After that he headed to Los Angeles to train players from the NBA, to D1 College, to High School & all the way to Middle School. Some of the players he worked with were Patrick Patterson, Kyle Guy, Dewayne Dedmon and Trent Lockett. He also spent time developing his business SoCalHoop and watched a lot of video, picking up some new concepts that he wants to use in the future. In June he finished out the easyCredit BBL season in the bubble in Munich helping the team reach the final, but it was his baby his NBBL team that he couldn´t watch compete for the U-19 title that hurt badly. The roster that he had had had some serious talent with the Patrick brothers, Lukas Herzog and Ariel Huckporti and it is a bunch of guys he will never forget. Unfortunately for him, he will never know if that team could have lived up to his lofty, but also just expectations. “I think the main thing I learned was that you can’t take anything for granted & to make the most of every minute you have a group like that. I’ve had some debates recently with other German coaches and players, but I believe that our U-19 group last year will eventually be looked at as the most talented NBBL team in Germany history. We had an unbelievable season on the court & formed a real family with that group. I feel the worst for the kids who didn’t have the opportunity to experience that moment of pure joy & accomplishment at the end of the season. Like I said, I learned to enjoy every moment & live in the moment because you never know when it could be taken from you. Control the things you can control”, warned David Gale. He didn´t just end his NBBL season in March and thank his young players for the moments, but still spent time with them conducting individual work outs as well as helping their minds with zoom conferences with interesting and noteworthy guests. “My goal in bringing NBA players and coaches on our zoom calls was to give our players another perspective on what it takes to accomplish your goals. Our players see the guys in the NBA on TV & view them as the best players in the world, rightfully so. To give our guys the opportunity to speak with these players, especially the international ones like Jonas Valanciunas & Bruno Caboclo, who have played in the same tournaments (ANGT & BWB) & experienced the same hurdles, helped our players to grow a bit mentally as well as maintain their focus and understand what it takes to accomplished their goals”, stressed David Gale. During COVID-19 he didn´t only spend his time wisely on the court, but also used the extra time wisely off the court. “I think the time away from coaching a team, I was able to truly reflect on all that I’ve learned in my time as a coach. On a personal note, I was able to spend more time connecting with my wife & my family, something that you rarely have such an extended opportunity to do in the coaching industry”, remembered David Gale.
The American who lists his personal NBA Mount Rushmore with legends Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Lebron James was able to profit in his two years in Ludwigsburg being able to work with so much German talent. Two players that he will never forget were the sons of head coach John Patrick Johannes and Jacob who already made their BBL debuts last season profiting form the Bubble in Munich in June 2020. “Both Johannes & Jake are very talented basketball players. Their games and personalities are very different but both have shown great growth over the past 2.5 years. They definitely benefited from COVID, having the opportunity to play on a larger stage in the BBL bubble but I believe both players would have reached that level sooner or later regardless of the timing”, stressed David Gale. It seems like the younger Jacob is more talented than his older brother, but if there is one guy who should give the perfect scouting report than it´s David Gale. “I wouldn’t say Jake is more talented than Johannes, they simply have different games & different natural abilities. Jake is naturally a pure shooter with more size than his older brother. Jake also has a gift that most players do not, he as the mental capacity to play through missed shots & mistakes without letting it affect his game. He will have a long, very successful career as he continues to develop and mature. Johannes has a bit more speed than his younger brother, is a tenacious defender on & off the ball and plays with the passion that coaches want all their players to show. He has grown into being a real leader, as he was the captain of our U-19 team both years I was in Ludwigsburg. Johannes plays with a chip on his shoulder as most people view he and Jake the same way you phrased this question. Both brothers are great players and I’m excited to watch both of their careers continue to blossom”, warned David Gale. The American was really fortunate to have been able to work with top easyCredit BBL coach John Patrick, but at the same time also get that perspective from a players view point with David Mccray who retired from the game after many years of being known as a ruthless defender and aided him with the U-19 side. “Working with John and being able to learn from him every day was an invaluable experience. John empowered me & gave me my first opportunity to be a head coach and I will be forever grateful to him for that. On the court, I learned about pressure defense & defensive schemes that I hadn’t seen before in North America. He changed the way I view team & individual defense. I think there are some aspects of Johns defense that you will be able to see with my team in Nevezis. As just as John would do, I won’t give away any other secrets about our schemes. Dave is a very talented basketball mind that has the two things you need to be a successful coach, internal drive & extreme dedication to his craft. Having Dave on my coaching staff last season was something I pushed for as he contemplated retirement as I saw the potential and value in having him on the bench & in practice next to me. Players respond to his passion and they can feel that he truly cares about their development, both as players and as men. I think Dave, as long as he wants to, will be a BBL coach in the very near future. Dave is like family to me, he and I still talk regularly. Just like our players from the past years, I can’t wait to see his growth and future as a Head Coach”, said David Gale. He is obviously a different coach now then two years ago when he arrived in Germany from the NBA. He is very thankful that he was able to mature further as a coach in Germany. “My main areas of growth over those 2 years have been staff management & game management. Being a head coach, you have to be a consistent leader of large group of people every day. Being able to test my philosophies on a daily basis, build relationship, instill a structure & culture and gain in game head coaching experience in over 100 international games are all areas I was able to grow over the past 2 years”, stated David Gale.
Now let´s fast forward to 2021. COVID-19 is still alive and so is David Gale´s coaching career as he has landed in Lithuania possibly the most passionate basketball country in Europe. After getting extensive experience in the United States and expanding his basketball coaching skills in Germany, coming to Lithuania for his second overseas job is a no brainer. “I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to continue to grow in a new organization & new country. I was looking for a new challenge, mainly in North America however, when the coach with Nevezis stepped away, the team reached out to me, amongst a few other candidates. I was lucky enough to be the man that the management felt was right for the job based on my previous experiences in both the NBA and Germany”, stressed David Gale. He also received a pre-Christmas present in that he got a special working reunion with his ex-player. “Having the opportunity to continue to work with Ariel Huckporti is something I’m extremely excited about. He’s a special talent, and anybody who has met or spent time with him would quickly tell you, he has an infectious personality that makes you want to be around him. The sky is the limit for him going forward. Ariel however, was not the only reason for taking this job. There is a lot of talent on this roster with a good mix of veteran & younger players. The opportunity for myself to move to professional league that is respected worldwide, along with the 2 NBA Prospects in Ariel and Abramo Canka, made this an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. ”, warned David Gale. The American hasn´t come to Lithuania unprepared. He has had the luxury of having gotten a taste of some of the best Lithuanian players in the last years and of course has done what a coach has to do to survive anywhere and that is watch unending clips of film. “I’ve had the ability to work with a number of Lithuanian players, including Jonas Valanciunas, Linas Kleiza, Domantas Sabonis and Donatas Sabeckas to name a few. During my time in Germany, I also spent a good amount of hours watching Zalgiris & Rytas in international play. We also had the fortune of competing against Rytas’ U-19 team twice last year in London. I’ve known for quite some time about the love for the game here in Lithuania but I’m excited to learn so much more in the future while here in Kedainiai”, added David Gale.
The American who last watched “On the rocks” with Bill Murray has had years and years of the best prepping for his new challenge in Lithuania. He is definitely 100% ready for this job the same way A Lebron James each day for the next battle on the court. “All of my time working for fantastic head coaches over the past 13 years has prepared me for this opportunity here in Lithuania. I have worked at every level along the way, from video coordinator with Mike Dunleavy & Vinny Del Negro to Player Development with Dwane Casey & Assistant Coach Nick Nurse, to being the Offensive “Coordinator” for Jerry Stackhouse and the Defensive “Coordinator” with the Delaware 87ers of the 76ers organization. All these stages & steps, along with of course being given the opportunity to be the Head Coach of Porsche BBA in Ludwigsburg by John Patrick have prepared me for this challenge in Lithuania”, warned David Gale. Also being able to work with Ariel Huckporti again is very exciting for him as well. Being able to witness the next steps in his development is as compelling as wondering what a Luka Doncic will do next to stir up the NBA in some new way. There was no hugging in their first meeting in Lithuania, but just a lot of mutual respect. “I have maintained my relationship with Ariel during this period, but as I’m already in Lithuania, I can tell you that the first meeting with Ariel did not include a hug, but it did include a lot of smiles, reminiscing & talking about how bright the future will be the rest of the season & beyond. Ariel has a skill set that many have yet to see. There are a lot of preconceived notions about what kind of players he is. I think everyone will see a highly skilled 7 footer, with ball handling skills and jump shooting ability that is very seldom seen in a player his age and his size. His passing ability is another aspect of his game that I believe is underrated. I’m excited for everybody to see how talented of a player Ariel is and how bright his future will be.”, stressed David Gale. Even if he is in Lithuania now and is suffering a few coaching growing pains as his team is 7-18 and in ninth place, he very well knows that this new step wouldn´t have been possible had he not made the jump to Germany. Possibly one day when he is in the NBA, he will look back and be able to pin point exactly where the turning point was in his career. “Moving to Germany and taking on my role with MHP Riesen & Porsche BBA in Ludwigsburg definitely ended up being a life changing decision that I could only have half predicted. My growth as a coach on the court and as my personal growth a man off the court were beyond measure. I loved my time in Ludwigsburg. It only served to make me better in all respects”, added David Gale. He has that totally focused approach now ready to tackle his new challenge in Lithuania, but knows exactly what route he wants to take down the road. “My goal is to be an NBA Head Coach at some point down the road. I’ve learned that only time, opportunity & preparation to take advantage of those opportunities will dictate where your career goes. For the time being, I’m enjoying the journey & every step of the process to be the best coach possible”, warned David Gale. I may only have stood next to Lebron James for a split second as he whisked by me on to the bus on Boylston street in down town Boston on a very cold Monday evening less than a week before the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, but David Gale´s eyes light up when he tells his own personal story about Lebron James who obviously is the best player he ever worked with. “. I was working with coach Billy Bayno on his Scouting Reports and will never forget how dominant Lebron was during those 4 years in Miami. If you let him get to his right hand attacking the basket, he finished at the rim 98% of the time. It is pretty difficult to guard somebody that never misses”, remembered David Gale. He will forever cherish this minuscule encounter he had with Lebron James while David Gale may just have a new encounter with Lebron James when he reaches the NBA.