Playing Many Years In The Regionalliga Helped Preserve Omari Knox´s Body As He Still Looks To Make An Imprint In The Pro Leagues

Omari Knox (187-SG-86, college: Bloomfield) is a 33 year old 188cm guard from Brooklyn, New York that recently completed his 9th professional season and second with TSV Oberhaching Tropics Deisenhofen (Germany-ProB) averaging 15.5ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 87.5%. He has played his whole professional career in Germany including 2 years with OSB Hellenen Muenchen , one season with the RhenStars Cologne and 4 years with the TSV Dachau Spurs. He played 8 seasons in the Regionalliga and has belonged to the top guards in the league averaging over 20 points 5 times and twice averaged 27,0pp in a season. He began his basketball career at Bloomfield College (NCAA2) and as a senior averaged 18.8ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 40.1%, 3Pts: 40.1%, FT: 71.8%. He spoke to during the Coronavirus in 2020. The interview was misplaced and found again.

Hi Omari 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?

Hey wassup Miles, I’m doing ok. I’m still in Munich, and handling the current crisis as best as anyone can. I’ve stayed in heavy prayer and been optimistic that everything will improve over time. I am a bit worried still, with my wife and I expecting the birth of our first child, in July but I’m sure everything will be fine.

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

I guess none of us knew how bad it would get. It seemed to spread so quickly, but many people didn’t take it seriously. I also figured at worse, it would be a typical winter/flu season and then go away once the weather changed. I would have never thought it would have this much of an impact on everything.

How did you experience the day to day life in Bavaria when you were still in Germany? What things did you notice in the surroundings there that showed that life wasn’t normal?

With everything being closed except for the essential businesses (Supermarkets, Restaurants, Pharmacy’s, Hospitals, etc.) it’s been difficult at times. I’m used to seeing people outside enjoying the nice weather as often as they can, but with social distancing, the streets have been fairly quiet. I’ve just taken the time to get things done, that I had been putting off, and talking a lot more to my family and friends back home in the states.

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 an introvert. I definitely don’t like people coughing or sneezing around me, (whether it’s controllable or not) so I wouldn’t want to expose anyone to it either. Once it got bad, I also stopped shaking hands with people.

Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe including the Pro A. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?

I feel like our team had just found a good rhythm, and chemistry just in time for the postseason. I was excited for the play-downs, because there weren’t many people who thought we would be able to stay in the league. I was looking forward to showing whoever we had to play, that we would be much tougher than our record showed. I understand that health and safety comes before anything else, so it was definitely necessary to shut the leagues down.

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 think it’s tough to play a game without spectators. It sort of takes the advantage away from the home team, having their crowd behind them to cheer. In terms of getting the games played and finishing the league, this is the best option. Games can be streamed for spectators.

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

This crisis has been difficult for everyone. It’s made me grateful more than anything else. Grateful that none of my friends and family have been directly affected. Too many people have died, so I’ve learned not to take the people or things that I do have, for granted. I’m hopeful that there will be better days ahead.

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?

I planned to take some time off after the season ended, anyway. This is an advantage for any guys who had injuries, to heal up before the next season begins. I’ll just be working on staying physically fit until things open up, and everyone is allowed back into the basketball gyms. It doesn’t take me too long to get back into a basketball rhythm.

The whole world economy is going to be affected including German 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?

It’s a scary thought for a lot of people, but I try to only worry about things that are in my control. I just hope for the best, and have trust in my agent that he will be able to find me the best possible option to play for next season. I also think that in some cities, more businesses may slowly start to open up over the next weeks.

If you had to name another player besides guys from the Panthers that you have been in most contact via Social Media who would it be?

One guy I’ve talked to regularly is Zamal Nixon. We’re actually childhood friends. We laugh about the fact that somehow we managed to bump into each other multiple times over the years, here in Germany (in different cities), without even planning to. Now, we live just 5 minutes away from each other here in Munich. This a very small world.

How has the day to day life been now in the States with the outbreak of the Coronavirus? Have you noticed any differences and are there any differences between the Americans and German people on how they are coping and handling themselves?

Day-to-day life here in Munich has been a lot less stressful than for my family and friends in New York City. One major difference is in the population. Here, I can at least go outside for a walk without the streets being crowded. I feel for all of those in the big cities, who don’t have the luxury of a yard or balcony to sit outside and get fresh air. Many Americans are struggling much more because the numbers are higher. It’s hard to predict when things will get better.

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?

I try to talk to most of my family, regularly. Before all of the crisis, everyone has been so busy and may not have had the time to schedule calls. Now everyone is in the house so it’s much easier. It’s been one of the only good things to come from all of this.

Let’s talk about the season of the TSV Oberaching Tropics. You moved up from the Regionalliga and finished in the Pro B with a 7-15 record in 11th place and were set to battle Frankfurt and Munich to stay in the league. The season left many unanswered questions. How tough is it never knowing what would have happened?

I don’t think about it much anymore. All of my teammate’s and coaches and I had the same goal which was to stay in the league, by any means. However, we achieved that goal under different circumstances. I wish we could have had the chance to play, only to prove the people wrong who doubted we would stay in the league. That’s just the competitor in me.

The club will play Pro B again thanks to the Coronavirus. How content were you with the team effort considering it came from the Regionalliga?

The team’s effort this season was incredible. That’s what made the difference. I believe that if it weren’t for unfortunate injuries, we would have easily been a playoff team.

The club lost 8 of it’s first 9 games. How vital was this bad start for the season going in one direction?

The bad start was difficult. For a newly promoted club that type of start could have destroyed the season. It hurt playoff chances, but I can honestly say that the whole organization kept faith the entire time and believed things would get better.

The club then upped it’s play having a 6-7 record winning 2 of the last 3 games. Did the trust continue to grow with the club and how confident are you that you would have made a run in the playdowns?

Our coaches simply told us not to look at what every other team did. As long as it was still in our own hands, we would get the job done. Every win built our confidence that much more. I’m confident that we would have been able to make a run in the Playdowns.

It is never easy to make ‘what if’ predictions, but do you feel like the team could have made the playoffs had you been on board from the start?

I wasn’t ready to play at the start of the season because of my surgery last summer but I think if I was completely healthy, and played the entire season we would have made the playoffs.

What was the team highlight of the season the win against Orange Academy, Speyer or Frankfurt?

I think the Frankfurt win was the highlight of the season. Shortly before that, we had some really huge loses, and needed a tough win on the road to rebuild the confidence and chemistry. That game helped a lot.

Let’s talk about your teammates. How much of a pleasure was it playing with John Boyer? You had dueled him many times in the Regionalliga over the years. He can do it all. What did you appreciate most about his game?

John is a special player. It was a lot of fun getting the chance to play alongside him for once. He makes the game easier for everyone, and it seems so effortless. He can do it all. His ability to see the entire court and make plays passing the ball, is what impresses me the most. He actually played the whole season long, with a nagging hamstring injury. He was never at full strength. It’s amazing what he was still able to do, while hurt.

Was the solid season of young German Justin Hedley a surprise or something you expected after coming to Oberaching? He came from Hanau and needed no adjustment period. Is he a guy that you mentored a bit and what did you like most about his game?

Justin and I worked out together for most of last summer. We also stayed in touch while he was in Hanau. I told him, once he signed with Oberhaching that he would have a good season, simply because he would be allowed to play his game. He works really hard and I’m glad it paid off for him this season. His abilities to get to the basket, and hit the mid-range shot, are what I enjoy most when watching him play.

What was it like playing with German Peter Zeis who had the most BBL experience on the team. Does the fact that he played some years in the BBL make that competitive level with you bigger in practice despite playing different positions?

Pete and I took some time to click, but I enjoyed playing with him. The competitiveness in him definitely challenged me in practice. It really helped me a lot mentally. I was struggling with trusting my knee while coming back from surgery, but Pete, as well as the other guys didn’t hesitate to let me know they were still going to hold me accountable. That’s what great teammates do.

How good of a coach is Mario Matic and how much of a opportunity does he deserve to coach at a higher level than just the Regionalliga or Pro B?

Mario is a really good coach. He’s a ‘Player’s Coach’. Some might discredit his style because he’s not so technical, and more strategic. He gets the job done. He has been successful at both levels where he’s coached. He definitely deserves an opportunity to coach higher.

Let’s talk about your game. You played your first season in the Pro B 15.5ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 87.5% despite coming back from injury. How content were you with your first Pro B season?

Looking back now, I can say that I’m satisfied with the season that I played. It was very frustrating for me at first. I was forcing things, because I kept thinking about what I would do in the league if I was completely healthy. My coaches and teammates helped tremendously, by keeping me focused on being patient and letting me know it would all come back over time.

After playing most of your career in the Regionalliga, does it bother you today that you didn’t get more shots at a higher level in Germany?

I believe everything happens for a reason. The offers that I did receive weren’t great, so I decided to always stay at the same level to make a better living. At some point, I knew that I would stay in the Munich area so I also didn’t need an agent, which I think could have made a big difference when searching for contracts in the higher leagues.

Your used to having put up monster stats in the Regionalliga like 27,0ppg one season with Dachau. How much of an adjustment was it scoring less in the Pro B and how did you become a better player having had the chance to play in the Pro B?

It wasn’t a huge adjustment for me. The level of talent usually will increase around you the higher the league is, so it was expected that my numbers would go down. I think the same would have been possible in the Regionalliga, had I played with the same group of guys. I did learn how to pick my spots better, when being aggressive.

What is the next step for you? Your turning 34 in November. How much longer do you still want to play and how willing is your body at this point? You have the German citizenship and it would be easier getting jobs with the dual citizenship.

I‘m growing older but my body still feels pretty good. Strangely, before my injury I felt I was in the best shape of my life. I’ve already played 9 seasons but I think that somehow, the years in the Regionalliga helped to preserve my body. Less practices, and less strenuous games than at the top levels. However, I’m looking to make more of an imprint in the pro leagues (whether Pro A or BBL) the next years, as long as my body permits it. The German citizenship should definitely help with opportunities.

Who was the toughest player that you battled in the Pro B this season?

Either Miguel Servera (Hanau), or Marvin Heckel (Baunach)

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

Luka is a beast, but I wouldn’t say Top 3 yet.

Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. You were 12 years old when he began in the NBA. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence?

I was at home sitting in my living room when I read the news, and I couldn’t believe it. Kobe had a huge influence on me. He was amazing to watch from the beginning of his career. I love how is game continued to evolve as he got up there in age. Every now and then I’ll still watch an old game of his. He will truly be missed.

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?

I would tell them that they should still be proud of everything that they did accomplish in their four year’s of playing college basketball, because many don’t even get that opportunity.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Bad Boys for life.

Thanks Omari for the chat.

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