Bryce Taylor Retires As Mr Team Player Meets Mr Eurobasket For A Last Basketball Conversation

It was May 9th as I witnessed the last regular season game of the Fraport Skyliners against the Hamburg Towers. It had been another season to forget for the Skyliners as they had missed another playoffs. At least they had finished the season strong winning the last two games against Wurzburg and the surprising strong team Hamburg Towers who would go to the playoffs and give BBL powerhouse team Alba Berlin a good opening round series but get swept 3-0. For me watching the Hamburg game was a special one to see, because it gave me another opportunity to watch Bryce Taylor play. I had watched him since his arrival in Germany in 2009 and was always impressed with his game and his positive character. Over the years we had developed a nice professional relationship and I had interviewed him every so often after games or for my radio show back in 2010 when he was with Alba Berlin. As he was exiting the court after the loss, we said hi and I asked him if he could bring out TJ Shorts for me. After a shower, he had got Shorts for me to ask some post game questions and after I had finished that, it gave us some time to mingle something we did from time to time after games. The biggest topic was my cancer recovery which was in full swing and nearing it’s end. I had one more very tough Liver surgery a week later and was a bit nervous about it. He wished me all the best and then I had to ask him if he would continue playing next season. He didn’t give me a definite reply, but I had the feeling that he would return. Fast forward to September 26th, 2021 a day before his birthday and he wrote me a message telling me he was going to announce his retirement the next day on his birthday. My first reaction was there goes another one of the great BBL players of the last 15 years. Soon there won’t be anymore as many have retired as the league only has few dino’s remaining in the league with Rickey Paulding and Quantez Robertson. He had 4 offers to keep playing in Germany, but decided to turn them down. He was still in good physical shape and his basketball abilities hadn’t eroded seriously. I could have still seen him play for 2-3 more years. ‘ I wanted to walk away on my own terms, especially having dealt with so many injuries over the last 4 years. I’ll stay fit with my new job and will continue to look for competitive basketball situations in America such as the TBT and the BIG 3’, stated Bryce Taylor (195-SG-86, agency: BeoBasket) COVID put stress on the whole world and totally changed the basketball landscape. Having to deal with COVID also effected his decision to hang it up. ‘I think COVID put a huge stress on the entire world and also the German basketball market. Since the basketball business in Germany is heavily reliant on sponsorships and ticket sales, without those two revenue streams not at the same level, teams cut their budgets drastically. I do believe if I had better financial offers I would have considered continuing to play longer’, warned Bryce Taylor

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Bryce Taylor after his last professional game in Frankfurt in May 2021

Bryce Taylor was born on September 27th, 1986 in San Diego, California. His father is Brian Taylor who played in the NBA for 10 seasons. Bryce began his basketball career at Harvard-Westlake high school and then played at Oregon (NCAA) from 2004-2008 playing a total of 117 NCAA games. He remembers Brandon Roy who would go on to have a great NBA career as being his toughest opponent in the NCAA. He averaged double figures in scoring three seasons and his best season was his junior year where he averaged 14.1ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3Pts: 42.2%, FT: 82.6%. That same season he helped his team win the PAC-10 tournament and make a long run at March Madness reaching the Elite 8. It was a great run and he still keeps in contact with his teammates from then today. He had been very fortunate to have had a very knowledgeable head coach in Ernie Kent who taught him valuable things so he could glide into his professional career well and then prosper. ‘Ernie Kent had us playing a style that was ahead of our time, pace and space 4 out 1 in, a lot of 3s. We did a lot of things that prepped me for becoming a pro, especially how he ran our practices and shoot arounds pre game. He really invested in our well being and development as people. He helped me a lot’, remembered Bryce Taylor He also remembers his duels with future NBA player Malik Hairston at Oregon. ‘First time we ever met, Malik challenged me to a 1v1 game and beat me. That was the only time we played. In general we challenged each other in practice and made each other better for 4 straight years. Malik was a great player’, commented Bryce Taylor

After having pre draft workouts with the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors (NBA) and playing NBA Summer League with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he decided to embark on a professional career overseas with Premiata Montegranaro (Italy-Serie A) He had a solid rookie season averaging 13.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 82.6%. He was fortunate to have high class teammates like Kimane Garris, Brandon Hunter and Ricky Minard. Despite being able to adjust well on the court, he did have growing pains and that wake up call coming overseas from California. ‘I remember feeling very homesick initially in Italy. The language barrier was difficult at times. I remember getting called for traveling a bunch of times in the preseason because I hadn’t adapted my footwork to the European rules. I knew I wasn’t at home anymore when I tried to learn how to drive manual and got stuck on the middle of the road in Montegranaro where a bunch of angry Italian drivers were cursing me as they drove around my stuck car’, remembered Bryce Taylor He then made the trek to Germany for his second professional season and played for the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Here he again showed his consistency averaging 12.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 81.4% in the BBL and had a potent Eurocup season averaging 18,0ppg. As a young buck, he was very lucky again to have supreme veterans on the team like Chris Ensminger who belonged to the best centers then at age 32. ‘Chris was great, all the guys you have mentioned basically helped shape my career and inspired me to stay in the BBL for a longer period of time. Chris was super tough, great rebounder, back to the back scorer and consistent mid range shooter. He also was a rim protector with how physical he played. I think he played another 5 years at a very high level due to his mindset and professionalism’, added Bryce Taylor Not only did he arrive in the German BBL in 2009, but so did current Fraport Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson. When he heard that Taylor had retired, it was only natural that he would give his 2 cents on his career. ‘We have been going at it for a long time just like with Rickey Paulding. The only good thing was that he wasn’t that much taller than me. We always got each other’s best effort on the court. I wish him nothing but the best in his next journey’, stressed Quantez Robertson. Taylor battled against Robertson each season and every possession with him on the court was a clash. ‘Tez is a great competitor and leader and Frankfurt is lucky to have had him for all those years. I’ll remember the playoff battles and his relentless attitude and fighting spirit. His speed with the ball, offensive rebounding, fearlessness and versatility are some of my favorite qualities of his as a player’, remembered Bryce Taylor

After his strong sophomore campaign with the Telekom Baskets Bonn, it was only fitting that he would make the next step moving to Alba Berlin from 2010-2012. With Alba Berlin he played 23 Eurocup games and 85 BBL games. His best season was his second as he averaged 11.8ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 82.4%. Even if he didn’t win a title with Alba Berlin, the whole experience was very enriching. ‘Alba was the premiere destination in Germany during this period, I was really excited to be there and it was a great fit for me. It was very important for me to prove that I could perform consistently at this high level and it was a very important stop along my journey’, said Bryce Taylor He was able to play with incredible players which helped him develop further in his game. The list reads like a who’s who of the best players in the BBL at that time. ‘Sven Schultze, Patrick Femmerling, Julius Jenkins, Immanuel McElroy, Derrick Allen and Yassin Idbihi. They were great vets for me who helped teach me how to be a pro. Dashaun Wood was a great player and a talent with whom I performed really well along side of’, expressed Bryce Taylor After two years with Alba Berlin, he moved to the Artland Dragons. He had another very good statistical season averaging 14.3ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 85.2% in the BBL and 10.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 91.3% in the Eurocup. I never understood why he seemingly took a step back from Alba Berlin, but this season turned out to be a very worthwhile season for him. ‘

QB was a perfect step after Berlin. I had a couple minor injuries there but I was able to focus and work on my game almost every day. I worked a lot with our staff, Stefan Koch, Martin Schiller and Ty McCoy helped me a lot that year, as well as Pedro Calles. That was a big developmental season for me. I enjoyed my time there’, stated Bryce Taylor No matter where he played, he must have felt like a little kid in a candy store, because he was always surrounded by amazing guard talent and with Demond Mallet, he couldn’t have been teammates with more of a winner. ‘D Mallet was special, he had a charisma and winning spirit that was unique. He also was very tough and just a flat out shot maker. In his prime I imagine he could have fit anywhere in Europe, as his resume shows’, warned Bryce Taylor

Then from 2013-2017, he had probably his most defining and enjoyable time being able to call himself a member of FC Bayern Munich, the most famous sport organization in Germany and a very famous brand in the world. He played his best basketball with them and was the best three point shooter in the BBL at that time shooting a crazy 48% twice and 51%. The club always has great rosters and talent, but it was surprising that in that time, the team was only able to win one title. That showed already back then how competitive the league was and that FC Bayern Munich didn’t have a monopoly on the league. ‘This says more about how good Bamberg was during their second 3 peat era. They had amazing teams and were very well coached. Without them we would have won 1-2 more’, warned Bryce Taylor In 2014 he won the BBL title and that roster was probably the strongest that they ever had. Everything just came together perfectly that season. ‘The 2013-2014 FCBB was one of the best teams during the last decade of the BBL, we had high level talent and great German players. We also had a hall of fame coach who drove us to greatness each and every day’, said Bryce Taylor Games and practices were never dull when you had German Heiko Schaffartzik with the ball in his hands as he was the master of the crazy shot from way outside. ‘Heiko was an amazing teammate and shot maker. He had crazy range and he was fearless in taking and making tough contested threes. I know he’s an actor now and I bet he’s going to be very successful in that world. He’s a brilliant guy with a one of a kind personality’, remembered Bryce Taylor He not only had a vital role on the floor with his game, but also as a veteran could help some of the younger guys. In his last year in Munich, he was able to witness Maxi Kleber and Paul Zipser make last developments in their game before they departed for the NBA. ‘I would always talk to both guys about their games and playing with joy and confidence. They would make NBA level plays every day in practice, so seeing how their careers have developed comes as no surprise to me’, expressed Bryce Taylor Not every player can say that they were able to play for legendary head coach Svetislav Pesic. Taylor did it for 3 seasons and will never forget it. ‘Svetislav Pesic changed my career and the way I looked at the game. He kept everything simple and held every player accountable to the team. I’ll never forget how much energy he had as an older coach, this man is an energizer and truly loves to coach and teach the game. I’m very grateful I got to play for him for 3 seasons. I have dozens of Pesic stories but I’ll have to share them another time. I love Coach Pesic’, stressed Bryce Taylor Playing for FC Bayern Munich gives the basketball players special privileges like being able to go to the football games. It was obvious that the American took total advantage of that. ‘I had a professional relationship with Uli Hoene, he is a great man and really supported our program. I went to several games each year and had a good relationship with Basti Schweinsteiger, Jerome Boateng and David Alaba. I’ll carry those memories with me forever’, commented Bryce Taylor

After his four year tenure in Munich, he next headed to Bamberg. Here the shooting guard who calls Reggie Redding Will Clyburn Brad Wanamaker Casey Jacobsen and Rickey Paulding as his toughest five opponents in the BBL would play three more seasons. He had injury woes there, but was still a feared sniper as he eclipsed the 40% mark from the parking lot in his first two seasons. He had a little misfortune in that when he came, the Andrea Trinchieri era was ending and the organization would rebuild, but he would win his second professional title with the cup in 2019. ‘Bamberg had great success the years before I arrived but unfortunately things kind of fell apart the year my group arrived. Once Daniele Baesi left for Bayern and Trinchieri got fired, things changed drastically. The talent of the teams before was undeniable, we are talking about 3 NBA players and 3 players going to Euroleague Final 4 teams in one offseason’, said Bryce Taylor Of course in Bamberg, he wasn’t short of having amazing teammates and one of those was Greek legend Nikolaos Zisis who came to Bamberg with many titles. ‘Nikos was the best leader I was ever around. He was the same person every day. His work ethic was unmatched and he treated everybody with respect. I watched him everyday and learned a lot about how to operate as a professional. He had a great feel for what the team needed and was always ready to step up in big games such as the Pokal Final in 2019. A true competitor’, stated Bryce Taylor

In his last season with Bamberg the world saw COVID change everything. Nothing was easy for anyone and it wasn’t any different with him who had numerous challenges that needed to be solved. ‘My family and myself actually had Covid recently and all became very symptomatic. This is a serious virus and we have to all remain vigilant in our behavior. The biggest challenge was not traveling to the USA for over two years and my family not being able to meet my daughter due to these circumstances. This definitely made me stronger and more resilient and brought us closer as a family’, added Bryce Taylor He may not have won a title in his last professional season with the Hamburg Towers, but helped them reach the playoffs. He loved the city and saw it as a unique and diverse city that provided beautiful nature, rivers, canals and parks. He even had my taste liking the beautiful Alster lake over the harbor. Being part of an ambitious young BBL project was very enriching for him. ‘This season was exactly what I hoped for when I signed there. Marvin Willoughby and Pedro Called are two of the best in the business at what they do and are great people. They allowed for me to play meaningful basketball while helping the organization take the next step in its growth. I wish them much success this season in the BBL and Eurocup’, said Bryce Taylor He played 12 seasons in Germany and had many many great teammates. To only shout out 5 would have been a major injustice. ‘ I’ll go with an honorable mention list: Malcolm Delaney, Tyrese Rice, Julius Jenkins, Dusko Savanovic, Immanuel McElroy, Derrick Allen, Chris Ensminger, Augustine Rubit, Deon Thompson, Chevy Troutman, Jared Jordan, Kiwane Garris, Taylor Rochestie, Nikos Zisis, Marquez Haynes, John Bryant, Ricky Hickman, Daniel Hackett, Dorrell Wright, Vladimir Lucic, Reggie Redding. I have to add my top German teammates such as Heiko Schaffartzik, Lucca Staiger, Paul Zipser, Robin Benzing, Maxi Kleber, Anton Gavel, JJ Strasser, Patrick Flomo, Sven Schultze, Yassin Idbihi, Patrick Femmerling, Steff Haman, Jan Jagla, Demond Greene, Sergio Kerusch, Nihad Djedovic, Danilo Barthel and many more great guys who I left off the list’, warned Bryce Taylor He retired having played 370 easyCredit BBL games and 45 Euroleague games.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Bryce Taylor in Frankfurt in 2015

So what is the next step for Bryce Taylor He is best prepared for the next stage in his life. ‘I am currently pursuing my Sports Business MBA for 2023 and started the program at the beginning of the month. This is a part time program. My main job will be working for the Indiana Pacers as a team assistant for their player development staff. This means helping out with individual workouts, practicing with the team and doing video assignments per request of the coaching staff’, commented Bryce Taylor I will always have fond moments of him on the court and if I ever want to relive them, then I will be able to find enough examples on You Tube. His jump shot was one of beauty that you seldom see. I will remember him as a team player that always played hard and wanted to win. One memory that I will always remember was when I saw him after a convincing 77-57 Munich win in Frankfurt in December 2016 where he had just dropped 22 points to lead all scorers. As he exited the locker room, he saw me and yelled Mr Euroleague legend. How I was I supposed to top that line? After covering him for 12 seasons in Germany he once more gave my ego a push with his words of how he would remember me. ‘You are a very important figure as you have a huge platform and bring more attention to our league. I love your detailed articles and how much you seem to enjoy what you are doing. Thank you for your coverage over the years Miles’, stressed Bryce Taylor He also hopes that the fans in Germany will remember him in a positive light. ‘Exactly as you said, a team player that competed to win games. Somebody who shared the ball, took good shots and competed on the defensive end. I love the game and I hope that shined through as well’, said Bryce Taylor Thanks Bryce for 12 years in Germany and sharing your special talent on the court and your unique character off the court. You will be missed my friend. All the best in the future for you.

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