It was a Saturday night in Frankfurt as the Fraport Skyliners farm team Juniors were playing a Pro B (3rd division Germany) league game against the Arvato College Wizards. As usual some of the easyCredit BBL Fraport Skyliners pro’s like Skyliner lifer/legend Quantez Robertson was taking in the contest while FC Bayern Munich their opponent the next day were tucked away somewhere in a hotel with ex NBA guys like Darrun Hilliard and Othello Hunter ready to do battle the next day. Meanwhile on the court the Fraport Skyliners Juniors had an average age of only 18 years, but on the other side was a living legend named Rouven Roessler who was only a few weeks shy of his 41st birthday and he was still playing at a high level. He played 5 years in the German BBL and probably could have had an even greater career had he wanted to stay away from his home Karlsruhe, but he was simply a homebody and is in his 18th season with a Karlsruhe organization. Current Fraport Skyliner Juniors kids Alexander Richardson, Calvin Schaum and Jordan Samare weren’t even born when Roessler turned pro in 2000 and Marco Voeller who recently retired was only 11 years old. On the court Rouven Roessler has always been a hardcore competitor that hates to lose. I never saw him snarl at an opponent, but I can imagine that he would be good at it and be able to intimidate his opponent immediately. The theme of having real live basketball dinosaurs is nothing new especially in the easyCredit BBL as there have been quite a few guys in the last years that played into their late 30’s like Derrick Allen, Chris Ensminger or Bernd Kruel. Last year Virgil Matthews decided to hang it up at age 37 and recently three older guys have decided to call it quits after this season including 39 year old Rickey ‘Mr Oldenburg’ Paulding. He has played an incredible and unbelievable 15 seasons for one organization in Germany called the EWE Baskets something very rare nowadays as players move around a lot looking for the best situations financially. Alex King will be 37 when he is finished and Per Guenther 34.’ I played against all three guys. They all define what longevity is. All played at a high level for so many years. Paulding has shown what so many Americans strive for and that is being able to play so long for one team and to be able to call that home. Guenther and King both had incredible careers in Germany’, stressed Kyle Hines (198-C-86, agency: BeoBasket).
Seeing these players that have been around for ages and keep performing at a high level can be found in many countries and leagues all over the world. One of these players is Kyle Hines who turned 35 in September and is battling in the Euroleague with AX Armani Exchange Milano (Italy-Serie A). He is a high energy player that always gives 100%, can score, rebound and block shots with efficiency. He takes incredible care of his body and is in excellent shape. ‘I feel good. I am in good physical shape. I worked a lot on my body and self during the last off season. I wanted to make sure that I would be in the best shape possible. I’m really excited to be playing my second season in Milan. I feel a lot more comfortable being in this organization and in my role’, stated Kyle Hines. He also has that mind set of a Tom Brady who is so serious about his job that he could play for forever. I’m sure that the ex Brose Bamberg center could also give a perfect snarl like Rouven Roessler and I feel this is a guy that could play until he is 40. The question of course is will his body play along every new season and how much will his family have a say in his future as his kids get older being able to spend as much time now becomes more and more of a priority. ‘I will continue to take it year by year and then see how my body feels. I have shown that I can still compete at a high level and still retain a major role with a team. I just love basketball and want to compete at a high level and win as much as I can for as long possible’, warned Kyle Hines.
The ex CSKA center is playing his second season with AX Armani Exchange Milano (Italy-Serie A). When you have won 4 Euroleague titles (most by an American in Euroleague history), the zeal to keep winning just doesn’t stop. With Milan he reached the Euroleague Final 4 again which was the 9th time in his career, but he was denied a fifth crown. Even if he didn’t win, the loss made him so much more hungry to win hardware this season. ‘I will always remember that first season that I had with Milan. We did something that the club hadn’t done in multiple decades. It was incredible to reach the Euroleague final 4. Now we want to continue and take a step forward and be in a position to be successful again this season’, stressed Kyle Hines. 10 seasons ago, Kyle Hines was still a young buck and had only two years of professional experience in Italy and was playing in Germany with Brose Bamberg and still relatively unknown, but climbing the ladder rapidly to the crme de la crme of the Euroleague. At the same time, he was teammates in Bamberg with Tibor Pleiss that was also early in his development and still 5 years away from the NBA. Today Tibor Pleiss is a top center in the Euroleague. Even if Hines didn’t win the Euroleague title, he was thrilled that Pleiss could finally win his first. ‘ I talk to him a lot. Our paths have crossed many times since we were teammates in Bamberg. I was very happy that he had a chance to win the title in his home town. It was extra special after the season before had been cut short because of COVID. His game has developed a lot since Bamberg. He can use his size and strength in many different ways. He has become a very versatile big man’, expressed Kyle Hines.
The American who played the longest time of his career with CSKA Moscow from 2013-2020 will always be able to call Moscow a second home, but after only one season in Milan, it is quite apparent that his heart is really thumping for his new home. ‘I have always had huge respect for the Milan organization. I began my career in Italy and have seen the passion that Milan fans have always had here. That has allowed my admiration for Milan to grow even more. Last year made me feel even more at home. I want to accomplish great things here’, commented Kyle Hines. When you are part of a highly ambitious and goal orientated organization like AX Armani Exchange Milano, it is very clear what the main goals are. ‘. Last year we got to the Euroleague Final 4, but couldn’t finish the job in the Serie A. For us it is a logical step to be a constant contender in the Euroleague and to win the Serie A multiple years’, warned Kyle Hines.The team has started off on fire and are perfect at 5-0 in the Serie A and 5-1 in the Euroleague. On paper they look even stronger than last season, but the always very humble Hines doesn’t want to sound too confident so early in the season. ‘I don’t know if we are stronger than last season, but I feel that we are more balanced. We have added more inside guys and also more athletic and dynamic guards. I think that we have different elements that we didn’t have last year. We haven’t reached our potential yet and want to build and grow each day’, added Kyle Hines.
The Milan roster is stacked with so much talent that I would love to see them compete against some NBA teams. I’m very sure that they would win games. They held on to vital guys like Shavon Shields, Sergio Rodriguez, Malcolm Delaney and Luigi Datome just to mention a few. Of course the club also added new vital and very interesting new components including two ex NBA guys Jerian Grant and Troy Daniels who will have their first experience overseas. ‘Jerian was a high draft pick and played many years in the NBA. He also has a high IQ like Devin Hall. He also comes from a great family back ground with his brother and uncle. He knows the game very well and is a dynamic guard. He can give a little bit of everything from the bench. He is also a really good defender. Now in the Euroleague you have very many high scoring guards so it is important to have versatile guards like Jerian who can get the job done. Troy’s ability to get hot and shoot out the lights will really help us. He is injured now, but already showed in pre season that he can score in bunches. He has shown with us that he can hit three or four three’s in a row. He gives us that special shooting element that will help us succeed. He will be a big help when the pick and roll isn’t working. He can than balance it out with his shooting’, warned Kyle Hines. Another ex NBA player the team reeled in was Devon Hall. He has an advantage over Grant and Daniels in that he has one season of overseas ball under his belt. He reportedly played for a measly 50,000 for Brose Bamberg last season and probably is earning at least 20 times as much in Milan. A guy that played for so little has to have an incredible character in a business that today is dominated by the bucks. ‘Devin is a real professional that really cares about his craft and wants to get better each day. Going to Bamberg was a good move. It allowed him to develop his game further and allowed him to get a better feel for the European game. He has flourished already with us and really compliments the other guards. He can guard 1-3 and is just great for us. Plus he comes from a great basketball family and played at a very respected program Virginia. He also has a great basketball IQ and his back ground is a big reason for his early success’, stressed Kyle Hines. Another ex NBA player and player that Hines met for years in the Euroleague is Italian Nicolo Mello who could be that type of glue guy for them. ‘He is very important for us. He is another one of those players that can help us in so many ways. He can give us the low post touches, make the right reads, right passes out of the post and is a great shooter. He also has a high IQ and always makes the right decisions’, added Kyle Hines.
He may be 35 years old, but the New Jersey native who saw the sequel to the classic Coming To America and believed it was the right thing to do to allow a new generation to see it with fresh eyes and to see the nostalgia is still not declining in his game. His stats and team play are excellent as always and as usual his biggest goal as always is doing everything possible to help his team win every night. He has that Tom Brady mentality. Skills usually decline with age, but they decline more when the body isn’t functioning as well. Look at Brady. He is in shape like a 28 year old and is still at the top of his game. Last season his stats seemed to be declining, but he was still good enough to win his seventh Superbowl and this season he is playing like a guy who is maybe 30 and not 44 and recently got his 600 touch down pass which is the most in NFL history. Brady’s relelntless focus of staying healthy has helped his game be consistent. Taking care of his body is also Kyle Hines foremost priority in order to continue to play with the best in the Euroleague. ‘I really work on my health. I want to be sure that I’m in the best shape possible so I can stay on the floor. I had some small injuries last season. This season I want to stay as close to 100% as possible. I just want to fill my role, make the right reads and play great defense’, stressed Kyle Hines. Especially the wear and tear inside isn’t easy to come to terms with when your getting older, but for him it is just normal to keep banging. But it is the extra work off the court that allows him to keep banging and be an inside force in the Euroleague. ‘I’m always trying to do different things to help me. If it’s weight training or strength and conditioning. I do these things so my body can continue to take the punishment, but also so I can be able to give it out. As I get older I need to train smarter and not harder’, warned Kyle Hines. If he wasn’t the aggressive and passionate defender that he is now, then he wouldn’t be where he is now. ‘My defense is one of the reasons why I’m on the floor and am still able to play at a high level. I take so much pride on defense. I always want to stop players. Defense has always been my calling card and I hope that it continues’, stated Kyle Hines.
But he isn’t only making a difference on the court for his club, but off the court also exceling especially in the community. Last summer he and his brother Tyler conducted the learn from the pro’s’ camp where they give back to the community and showed kids how the game really works. ‘I get great satisfaction teaching kids the game. Our goal is to leave the game better than how we found it giving knowledge to the youth. I feel that if we would have had these opportunities when we were young then we would have been better players. So why not help youths from my area get better? We enjoy working with the kids’, said Kyle Hines. He also continues to be active with the Euroleague Players Association which held it’s annual general assembly in Barcelona in September where former ELPA president Luigi Datome’s term came to an end and Tornike Shengelia stepped on board. ‘The Euroleague will continue to get better. The new Euroleague collective bargaining agreement is a first of it’s kind. This will help make better relations with teams and the players. This will help make the league stronger and help it grow’, commented Kyle Hines. Of course he continues to follow his ex team CSKA who added key parts with Alexy Shved and Kenneth Faried and wouldn’t be surprised if they are back in the Euroleague Final 4 together with Milan in Berlin in 2022. ‘They will always be CSKA which is one of the dominant teams in the Euroleague. They have reached the Final 4 in like 13 of the last 14 seasons. They will be a top team again this season. I don’t expect any less’, warned Kyle Hines. But let’s get back to that snarl again. How does the acclaimed actor Forest Whittaker fit into this equation. Well the actor who has been making movies for almost 40 years and won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, British Academy Film Award and Screen Actors Guild Award broke into acting in 1982 in the classic Fast Times At Ridgemont High. In that classic 80’s flick, he played the typical high school football jock who had some very memorable scenes that I continue to watch on You Tube including when he finds out his Trans Am was trashed. But it actually wasn’t the rival high school, but the goofy Sean Penn who was out joyriding in his car while he was on a college visit. Penn’s idea to make him think that the rival school did that to his car and not take the blame probably saved him a hospital visit. When Whittaker sees his car, he unleashes a quick sneaky snarl and after that totally takes apart the team winning the game. Not only a Rouven Roessler could unleash that classic snarl before taking apart the opponent, but also a Kyle Hines especially being that defensive stopper. I would love to see that Kyle Hines snarl once before he retires. If he keeps taking care of his body and just never loses that desire to play the game he loves, then I’m confident that he will play some more years. Maybe he will snarl once for me. And if not, I’ll always have that Forest Whittaker memory from my favorite movie of all-time Fast Times At Ridgemont High..