Jordan Talbert (198-F/G-91, college: MSSU) is another one of those rare players that has unique basketball qualities, but never had a cake walk in his professional career, but always had to prove himself in lower leagues in Germany. There are many guys around that are a lot better than where they are playing, but there is a massive difference between them and Jordan Talbert. The forward is as special as a player as Steph Curry is a shooter and has accomplished something so amazing in his seven year pro career in that four times he not only has helped teams move up a league, but was extremely instrumental in the success. It began in Nordlingen in 2015 under the tutelage of head coach Mario Matic who discovered him as a gem from Missouri Southern State University (NCAA 2) helping the Giants Nordlingen go from the Regionalliga to the Pro B. His next incredible feat was helping new club PS Karlsruhe go up from the Pro B to the Pro A in 2017. He should of remained and got his first burst of experience in the Pro A where he should of belonged, but instead went to ambitious team Rostock Seawolves and performed his magic again aiding them to get from the Pro B to the Pro A in 2018. His energy didn’t stop there as he did it again helping another very aspiring project the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt go from the Regionalliga to the Pro B last season. One could easily give Jordan Talbert the nickname Jordan ‘Mr move up my team please’ Talbert. Obviously moving up a league is never a simple feat, but imagine doing it in the last two seasons during COVID where living life for everyone was a real drudgery and as difficult as having the audacity as a very angry fan stepping in front of the king Lebron James and blurting out ‘You Suck’. He took his game and career to another level in the last two seasons remaining in Germany and battling injuries and COVID, but it was all worth it. The challenge of getting through the Corona period must have felt like a whirlwind at times and like an ordeal, but it definitely also made him stronger as a man. ‘Playing with no fans in the stands is something no player likes. We feed off the energy of the crowd and we’re better able to get lost in the game. Your thoughts are a lot louder when it’s a quiet gym. I believe the mental health of the athlete has become such a major issue because how unnatural it is to compete on a high level without a stage to play on. I believe COVID and the Social Issues had a universal affect across the globe. Everyone has some kind of battle their fighting. We all were made uncomfortable by what was going on in the world. I like to say ‘God will shake you up to wake you up’ and I feel that we were all woken up quickly. Self awareness, emotional vulnerability, empathy and discipline were the things I took away the most’, stressed Jordan Talbert.
Jordan Talbert is one of those guys that I have had the pleasure to interview 20 times in the last six seasons and always has something interesting to say and is simply a great interview partner. Despite a three year break, it was finally time to talk basketball again with the ex Central High School player and one thing that many may not know who don’t know him better, is that he isn’t only an exceptional baller, but a guy with a first class character that could fit in to any club from the deepest bush in Australia to the deepest part of Somalia in Africa. Before even answering my first question, he had to get something else off his chest which clearly shows the type of genuine man he really is. ‘Before we get started I would first like to congratulate you on beating cancer. So many people are happy that you were able to overcome. We all know how dangerous cancer is. You mean a lot to the basketball culture and we’re grateful to still have you doing what you do best’, said Jordan Talbert. One of my favorite questions I like to ask Americans during the summers especially when they have been away from home for a stretch is what was the first food they ate when they touched down on home soil. For Talbert just going to the local sandwich shop or a fast food place not available in Germany is out of the question. There is simply nothing better then home cooked food. ‘The first meal that I have is usually turkey and dressing. Traditionally a Thanksgiving meal and me not being home for the holiday my entire pro career I miss that the most. With the Jiffy cornbread on the side can’t forget that’, added Jordan Talbert.
This summer Jordan Talbert did something that he didn’t do the previous six summers in that he played semi-pro ball at home with the Little Rock Lightening (TBL). It was actually an obvious and well calculated decision because he hadn’t played since October 2020 because of an injury plus with COVID totally derailing the Regionalliga season, he was itching to play again. Plus he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to represent his home town. At first glance one may not think that playing semi-pro ball could be enriching, but his stint with the Little Rock Lightening was something rather out of the ordinary. Playing semi-pro ball is like seeing 12 other Jordan Talbert‘s on a team, all with chips on their shoulders. The only difference is that most don’t have the type of resume that Talbert has. ‘It reminded me of how far I’ve came in my pro career going into my 8th season, and also how much more I still have left. I’m blessed to have had the opportunities I’ve had come my way. The margin of error is so small when it comes to being able to have a pro career’, expressed Jordan Talbert. He was teammates with all types of characters, guys that have seen it all. He was teammates with guys who have never been out of the States only knowing semi-pro ball, guys out of college looking to latch on somewhere overseas, guys with minimal experience in Europe, one player who got his first pro gig after finishing school in 2015 and heck even a 40 year old dude. I mean how much more diverse can a team get. ‘It was incredible and much needed experience. First just to be on a team where everyone speaks English which is a minor difference but has a major impact. Hearing these guys story and sharing some of your own experiences sparked a hunger that was needed. I hope I had as much of an impact on some of those guys as they had on me. Only being able to play 5 games with them before having to return to Germany was perfect preparation’, stated Jordan Talbert. Two guys that really stood out on the team was David Rivers, because he had a semi connection to Talbert in that he had played with Rostock for two years and his last season was the one before Talbert got there and 40 year old Daniel Watson who finished school in 2005 and has sporadically played semi-pro ball the last 16 years. ‘David is a solid dude. I’ve played against David when I was in high school and followed his journey through college at Nebraska. Once he came to play in Germany in the same league, I knew there would be a chance we’d meet at some point. It was great to finally get a chance to play as his teammate rather than his opponent. Daniel ‘Hotdog’ Watson is a Little Rock legend. I remember watching him play when I was a teenager and being impressed at how many shots he could make when he’s off balance. Believe it or not hotdog was the energy of the team. He had jokes and kept the team light which a very important role in locker room’, remembered Jordan Talbert. A big change to Europe is the different style in semi-pro leagues in the States, but he held his own averaging12.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.5spg. ‘There’s a down side to playing with guys so hungry for a chance to prove themselves. It takes away from much of the team aspect which is what the European style is based on. When personal motives get in the way of winning games it changes the game. Playing by NBA rules also inspires the individualism because it’s more entertaining’, warned Jordan Talbert.
Despite the tough last two seasons with Covid getting in the way of everything in life, being able to help the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt was still a wonderful experience that he will never forget, so coming back to the new Pro B club wasn’t so difficult to comprehend. But one thing that I always wondered was why Talbert and his discoverer Mario Matic never reunited again after their two seasons together in Nordlingen from 2014-2016. ‘Mario is still my guy. I keep up with him and his teams. I wish him nothing but the best and hopefully we can cross paths in the playoffs this season’, said Jordan Talbert. ‘ I will never forget the first day of practice. Jordan came with a wide smile and instantly was a role model’, remembered Mario Matic. It was a no brainer that he would return even after having noteworthy encounters in Nordlingen, Karlsruhe and Rostock. ‘It’s been an incredible experience. I was able to take a step back reevaluate myself and help an ambitious club achieve their goals. Same as I’ve done for all the other clubs I played with. I’m excited about what the future holds for us’, smiled Jordan Talbert. After playing in the Pro B and Pro A with Nordlingen, Karlsruhe and Rostock, going to Wolmirstedt in 2019 and taking a step back and playing in the Regionalliga something he hadn’t done since his rookie season 2014-2015 in Nordlingen was not an easy step to digest, but once again his character showed another good side as he didn’t let his ego get in the way after his disappointing last season in Rostock. ‘It was tough, it felt like I was feeling every emotion there is. Most importantly it was a learning experience. There a thousand reasons I could say to why my last season in Rostock didn’t go as planned. But rather than placing the blame on anyone I chose to focus on what I could’ve done differently to meet my expectations for myself’, stressed Jordan Talbert. The SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt is one of those organizations that was very ambitious to move up and had some unique ways of showing off the organization like having a TV crew that produced an amazing documentary. ‘I enjoyed having them around. I felt like that team was set to have a great year and with the fans not being around it would nice to see it from a different perspective. I wasn’t expecting to have the season be cancelled but it made for an interesting story’, added Jordan Talbert. Last season the team made the jump to the Pro B and critics can always be able to say that they weren’t able to do it in a full season and they were stacked with ex BBL players something you don’t see in the Regionalliga. But some clubs will do anything to move up even if it meets renting a Konstantin Konga for a two game weekend and paying nothing. Moving up also was different and weird to previous move ups. ‘ It wasn’t as satisfying as the other promotions I’ve been a part of because of the Covid situation. I was extremely happy for the club and the city of Wolmirstedt. I don’t believe there was a big secret behind it, we had a very talented team’, expressed Jordan Talbert.
Talbert who sees Eddie Murphy as the Michael Jordan of comedy and is happy to see anything that he is involved in didn’t think the sequel to Coming To America was as good as the original, but was grateful for the effort was surrounded by some serious talent in Wolmirstedt last season. One of those guys was Mr Bill ‘the walking bucket’ Borekambi who never met a rim he didn’t like. He is a German menace with the ball that has always given the word off balance shot a new meaning. It was not difficult to understand that Talbert ranked Borekambi very high in his list of the top one on one players that he has ever played with. ‘He’s definitely top 3 of one on one players I’ve ever seen. He’s game is such a weapon for a team. His shot making ability at 15 ft is incredible’, warned Jordan Talbert. Even at age 30 a guy like Talbert still is hungry to learn and get better and wasn’t shy to try to add some of the fine nuances that Borekambi’s game presents. ‘Theres plenty to learn at my age. Historically basketball players that continue to play at an older age have a second act to their career. Kobe changed his number from 8 to 24 for this reason. Our games age and once you know how to how to facilitate that process you find new ways to be dangerous on the court’, warned Jordan Talbert. Another special teammate that he had in Wolmirstedt was German 31 year old veteran 31 Felix Neumann who had gathered previous experience with clubs like Herten, Cottbus and Magdeburg. He reminded him a bit of Daniel Watson. ‘Felix is big part of the team and our chemistry especially. As I said about hotdog earlier the same applies to Felix. He keeps things light in the locker room and his talent on the court is undeniable. We are all excited when Felix gets in his bag’, stressed Jordan Talbert.
Talbert who feels that having added Westbrook and Anthony should be enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to win the next NBA title possibly facing the Brooklyn Nets where he couldn’t imagine a bigger series is a player not only that has had the team game to help clubs be successful, but that potent offensive arsenal that has allowed him to shine everywhere as a professional. There was just one season in 2018-2019 with the Rostock Seawolves where he couldn’t be the player he is as he averaged only 2,9ppg and 2,3ppg in 34 games in his only Pro A season. That season wasn’t only eye opening for him, but also for his ex teammate German Chris Frazier who took a step back to play in the Pro B with Iserlohn to then take a step forward to the wiha Panthers where he will be going into his second season and continues to develop there. Despite serious woes in Rostock in his last season, he was able to channel that negativity into positivity. ‘The season made me more resilient and a better leader I believe. Being the Captain of the team but not playing as much as I felt I should play caused me to be more of vocal leader where as I’ve always lead by example. We still had a successful season making the playoffs first year in the league but I definitely received a wake up call’, warned Jordan Talbert. The American should of gotten a Pro A chance after his brilliant second season in Nordlingen and some more after that in the last years, but didn’t. I always felt that he was a guy that had the game for the Pro A, but apparently was off too many Pro A radar’s. ‘You’re not the first person to say that and I appreciate you doing so. That means a lot coming from you. I would be a lying if I said it didn’t bother me. It’s motivated me more than anything. There’s no need to block it out, it’s a part of my story and I accept that. Now that I have a chance to take another club to that level, I’m excited validate the people that believe in me across the country’, stressed Jordan Talbert. Even at age 30 he is always getting better and ready to attack the Pro B again this season with the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt. He is definitely a different type of player today then he left Rostock in 2019. ‘I’m definitely even more cerebral now. Much better shooter, able to play with more patience and better pace’, stated Jordan Talbert. It will be interesting to see how many more years Jordan Talbert can play, but with his versatile game surely many more years. His main goal now is to play his typical team game and help the SBB Baskets Wolmirstedt be successful. Currently the club is 2-0 and he has had a fantastic start on the court averaging 16,5ppg, 10,0rpg, 1,0apg and 2,0spg while shooting an incredible 50% from outside. And who knows possibly meet his ex coach Mario Matic finally in the playoffs in 2022. Mario Matic knows any duel against his ex player will always be a battle. He doesn’t need to say much about Jordan ‘move up my team’ Talbert, because sometimes little isn’t more, but just the strongest expression. ‘Jordan Talbert is simply a winner’, warned Mario Matic.