Michel Diouf (208-C-89) is a 32 year old 208cm center from Senegal playing his 16th professional season and seventh with Danish team Bakken Bears. Before coming to Denmark in 2015, he had played his first 9 professional seasons in Spain in the ACB, Leb Gold and Leb Silver. He has won 9 professional titles with 8 with the Bakken Bears and one with Autocid Ford Burgos (Spain-LEB Gold). He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Fiba Europe Cup game against the Hakro Merlins.
Michel thanks for talking to egermanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Hi Miles,right now I’m in Denmark playing for the Bakken Bears the biggest basketball team in the country located in Aarhus.
Before we get to basketball please talk a bit about your basketball experiences during COVID. What were the biggest challenges for you in the last year and a half?
I think Covid has been and still a bad situation for the entire world. The biggest challenge was when we were about to play our semi final after beating Minsk in the fiba europe cup. Jjust there they stopped all sport in the country.
With everything that you have seen during COVID how do you feel did it make you stronger as a man?
You have had a very interesting professional career. You played your first 9 seasons in Spain and the last seven in Denmark for top team Denmark. How long did it take you to adjust to the cold weather in Denmark?
I still haven’t adjusted. It is ,still cold like the first day lol.
Your playing your seventh season in Denmark with the Baaken Bears. In 9 years in Spain you won one title and with Baaken 8 titles and the list should continue to grow. Was choosing to play for Baaken the best basketball decision in your life?
I don’t know know if it was the best decision but for sure it is one I won’t be regretting.
The Baaken Bears have won 28 titles since 1997. How blessed are you to play for this great organization? What is the best thing about playing for them?
I can’t put it all in words. They really take care of you and make you like their own son. your home with your Family”.
The Baaken Bears are the defending champions in league and cup play. Does the pressure subside a bit for you when you have won so much in the past?
There is a bit of pressure not from anyone but from knowing how many titles the club have won and you have to respect that.
Talk a bit about the importance of Danish player Morten Sahlertz who has won 14 titles with the Baaken Bears. Is he the heart and soul of the team?
He is the captain and he is the heart and soul of the team. He is always there to listen to help not only as a captain of the team but as a brother you can trust.
What has it been like being teammates with a fellow veteran like Ryan Evans? Has he become like a brother for you over time?
Having a teammate like Ryan was and still is the best teammate I ever had not only his personality but his carisma a devotion to the team and that over time he became like a brother to me.
Last season you played with explosive scorer QJ Peterson. Where will his journey go and is his height keeping him from the NBA?
QJ Peterson is a really good player and I don’t think his height is keeping him from playing in the NBA . He got lot of talent and if he keeps working hard like he does he might make it.
Adama Darboe is another one of those great players that can do everything. What is the most incredible thing that you saw him do on the court?
Adama was a great teammate. The great thing I saw him do on the court wasn’t about basketball, but his visions and the power to lift a teammate up when he was down.”
You played most of your career in the Spanish Leb Gold (2nd division), played two seasons in the Leb Silver (3rd division) and briefly in the ACB. Did it bother you that teams in the ACB didn’t give you more of a chance?
At first yes like every other players who want to get on the top ,more when you see other players getting there and your asking yourself why I can’t get there but after it didn’t matter because my experience in Fuenlabrada was not the best.
You finally won a title in Spain in your last season in the Leb Gold with Autocid Ford Burgos which had some special guys like Jeff Xavier and Taylor Coppenrath. What was so special about this team?
I think that Leb gold team was by far the greatest team the Leb gold ever had. We lost 3 games at the start of the season and that was it. We didn’t lose any other game untill the end of the season. The team was so united. We had each other’s back at any moment.
You played two seasons with Leche Rio Breogan Lugo (Spain-LEB Gold). There you witnessed Tyrus Mcghee’s rookie season. Did you know then that this guy would go to show extreme consistency in the top leagues in Italy, Spain, Israel, France and Turkey.
Yeah for sure. We were living in the same building not to say next door. Mcgee already had that hard work ethic and consistency that when you see it you know he will be going to the top levels.
In 2011-2012 you finally played in the ACB for an extended time with Baloncesto Fuenlabrada (Spain-ACB). What memories do you have of playing in Europe’s greatest league?
Playing in the ACB was a great experience. meeting great players and coaches that I was watching on TV when I was young, but Fuenlabrada wasn’t a pleasant experience.
What memories do you have playing against the great Real Madrid that had a young Nikola Mirotic and Sergio Rodriguez. How do you remember doing in the game?
They were great memories, but Felipe Reyes was my idol and playing against him I was full of joy and happiness.
You played with C.B. Tarragona 2017 (Spain-LEB Gold) from 2007-2009. After coming from the Silver league you needed no adjustment period there. How do you feel did your game develop in those two years?
Tarragona was great. I was young and needed to learn more to develop my game and that was the right place to go. Listening to Bernie Alvarez who was my teammate at that moment helped me a lot.
You played together with the incredible Adam Hess who would go on to make a real name for himself in Germany. Did you ever see a more versatile player than him?
I think after when Adam Hess went to Germany his game went to another level. Sometimes when we were watching him play we were asking ourselves if this was the same player we played with. He was really good in Tarragona and like you said He went “incredible”Hess!!!
You were with Sevilla in your first years in Spain. Do you ever wonder how your career may have gone had you tried an NCAA career in the States?
Yeah sometimes I ask myself that, but being in Europe and learning all the basketball fundamental playing pro in an early age was really great.
You were teammates with one of my favorite guys and one of the first guys I ever covered in Germany Tyrone Ellis. He was in the latter part of his career. How important was his veteran presence for you as a very young player?
Tyrone was a great player and was kind of a mentor to me. He would take his time after practice and explain how I should improve some part of my game .He was a game changer for me.
Who was the toughest player that you have ever matched up on the court that made the NBA?
Serge Ibaka by far , defending him or trying to score on him on the (sub20 ) was the hardest thing ever.
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?
Ryan Evans, Adama Darbo, Devaugn Akon-Purcell, Tylor Okari, Darko Jukic.
Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry.
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Michael Jordan no doubt no debate.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming to America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
They should of left it alone. I started it and still didn’t finish it.
Thanks Michel for the chat.