When you have been used to having Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) as head coach of the Fraport Skyliners for more than half of their existence, it isn’t easy forgetting him or reminiscing about great basketball days in Frankfurt when things weren’t going so well for the Skyliners in the last two seasons. Herbert is a figure in Fraport Skyliners history that is as loved as guys like Pascal Roller, Chris Williams or Quantez Robertson, but basketball life does go on. After a long stay with the Fraport Skyliners, he felt it was time for a new challenge and he kept very busy coaching the Canadian National team as well as being a consultant for the Brooklyn Nets and last coached in Russia for VTB team Avtodor Saratov. A guy like Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) isn’t jobless long and when I heard the news last Monday that the German national team was going to present it’s new coach, I immediately yelled Mike Taylor. I have no idea why his name popped up, but he has had success in the BBL with Ulm and Hamburg, but then I remembered oops he has been like a hero coaching the Polish national team the last years. Then I figured they were going to name a German coach, but when I heard it was Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ), I was instantly overjoyed. And why not. Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) was a great choice. He knows the easyCredit BBL, has had success with the Fraport Skyliners and one of his biggest strengths over the years was getting the most of his players with a more limited budget that was given to him. Not only I was very pleased with this announcement, but also many others especially people affiliated with the Fraport Skyliners. One ex player and Skyliner legend who was instrumental in the team winning the 2004 BBL title was Pascal Roller. He can bright up a room with his smile and crystal blue eyes and I would have loved to have seen his expression when he heard of the news. ‘I’m very happy for him. It is good that he will give a full time commitment. I always liked how well Gordie was prepared and putting the players strengths best to use. It will be exciting to see what kind of team he will be able to form in a short time. I’m confident that Gordie can do a good job’, warned Pascal Roller. Mike Taylor gave his respect over social media classifying the holy four letters GOAT to him.
I reach Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) who’s first club he coached in Germany was Wurzburg on a Friday morning in Finland four days after he was named German national team head coach. He is very relaxed and in very good spirits. I notice right away that this new challenge is very exciting for him. Sometimes going from a job were you were released to getting a new opportunity comes quicker then one may expect. He had to go in March 2021 and it took him only six months to get that new chance in Germany again. I remember him joking to me after his release that he actually lasted longer than the last coaches in the last 6-7 years. Sometimes one can be bitter for doing a pretty good job and almost reaching the playoffs and having to go, but he took it in stride knowing it’s a business and was blessed for the opportunity. ‘I had a good experience in Russia and I’m very glad that I did it. I knew coming in the history the club had had with coaches in the last 6-7 years. I have no regrets. It’s the nature of the job’, stated Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). He has sampled vast experience coaching in some very good leagues like in Germany, France and Greece, but being able to coach in the very popular, demanding and skilled VTB league where top teams like CSKA Moscow and Khmiki Moscow play was an enrichment for his basketball resume that he won’t forget so rapidly. ‘The VTB is a great league. It has tremendous teams and coaches. I think that there was only one Russan coach in the league. The VTB had coaches from countries like Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Croatia and Serbia. I really enjoyed my time there. It was a very professional league as well’, stressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
Now the ex Paris Basket Racing (France-ProA) head coach begins a new challenge in his career and for German basketball. Things moved very quickly. The German basketball Federation didn’t waste much time finding a replacement for 1993 NCAA champion with North Carolina Henrik Roedl. He signed on a Monday and had the press conference. The first phone calls and meeting occurred the Thursday and Friday the week before. Sometimes talking to some former coaches like Roedel and Dirk Bauermann help in making a decision, but he didn’t need to do that He remains very laid back in our conversation, but I continue to notice that he was 100% sure about taking this job.’ I intend to talk to Dirk Bauermann and Henrik Roedl soon. I had a great meeting with Ingo Weiss and Armin Andres. I felt very good in the talks. They were very professional. I like how they want to move forward’, said Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). The outpouring of support was huge from people and he also didn’t waste anytime quickly reaching out to his new players that he will be guiding. ‘I got about 50 text messages after press conference. It was very nice. I spoke to Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel, Isaac Bonga and Leon Kratzer. We have a list of 40 players. So far I have reached out to 80% of the players’, added Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). Even when he was bound to other jobs, the personable Canadian never loses track at what is happening in the easyCredit BBL or the German national team. Germany was the country where he enjoyed his most success and has always followed what was happening there. After an embarrassing 2019 World Cup showing where Team Germany possibly had their strongest roster ever, the 2021 team rebounded with an amazing qualifying round and reached the Olympics. Herbert is very excited about the future of German basketball. ‘I was really impressed how they played. They played very well. I really liked their spirit. Henrik Roedl did a really good job. I’m really happy for him. The team has tremendous potential and it was one of the main reasons why I took the job. I like the professionalism of the German basketball federation and the infrastructure. There are some players over 30, but there is a great core of players between 24-30. Plus there are good guys coming up. This is a great opportunity for me. I got tremendous responses from all the players that I spoke to. They are all very excited to play for their country and have success.’, warned Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
With the Fraport Skyliners he returned a few times and always had success again. In 2004 he won the easyCredit BBL title. In 2010 he returned taking over for the departed Murat Didin and reached the BBL final. After coaching Alba Berlin, he came back to Frankfurt for a third time and led the club to the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup title. He will most likely return back to the Fraport arena on occasion to scout potential German talents. He surely felt pressure at times with his tenure in Frankfurt and it isn’t any different now with the German national team. After Roedl did a super job, now German basketball fans want Herbert to take that momentum and ride with it and gain further success and take a new step. Herbert is more than ready for new pressure. ‘Sure there is pressure. But I have always said that the more pressure I have the better the job is. That is the nature of the job. But I tend to put more pressure on myself. It is success orientated. You have to understand that you are judged by how well you do’, expressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). It will be interesting to see what kind of philosophy Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ) will instill into the German team. For years he was known as a defensive master with the Fraport Skyliners building top defensive teams with guys like Quantez Robertson and John Little. Last summer Roedl’s assistant Roy Rana introduced the Scram Switches which did wonders for the German team as they were one of the better defensive teams. Herbert already knows in what direction he will be going in terms of what he will be expecting from his players. ‘I will have my own philosophy and will build around the team. There are three things that I believe in. One guard your position, two rebound your position and three execute in the half court offense. Now we have to adjust the philosophy to the strengths of the players. We start with the defense and then go forward. We also have to be unified, play together and be able to have a good skill level. The first two are very important’, warned Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). Not only having success will be a challenge, but also building a roster at certain times when you don’t always have all players available. ‘It will be very challenging especially around the windows. The NBA and the Euroleague players won’t be available. That will be a great opportunity for the other players to get minutes and step up. You never know who is healthy or has contract issues at the start of the summer. So we will have to be flexible and be able to adjust. We need to form a team and find different pieces. The 12 best players don’t make the team. It is like a puzzle. You have to hit the different area’s. We will do the best job that we can to have the best team where the country will be proud of’, commented Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
Two players that he is absolutely thrilled about being able to work with again are current CSKA Moscow big man Johannes Voigtmann who most likely could have played in the NBA for the Washington Wizards, but opted to stick around in the Euroleague and Danilo Barthel who has been a Euroleague player for ages. The trio won the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup together and just harmonized very well. Now they hope to do it again. ‘They are both great people. They are both very good players, but even better people. When they were in Frankfurt, we had one of the best teams ever there. They began with us and it has been great seeing them develop further in the last years. It is hard to say now exactly what kind of role that they will have. The players tell us exactly what kind of role they will play when they are on the court. I had a great experience coaching them in Frankfurt. I’m looking forward to coaching them again. That was another reason why I took the job, because it is intriguing to coach them again’, warned Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). One very interesting issue is Joschiko Saibu. He is a guy that created a massive stir in basketball Germany concerning his political views especially with COVID. Germans fans hated him for it while the German Basketball Federation looked the other way. In the end, he was chosen to represent Germany and did a pretty good job on the court. The question now is will he get a chance under Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket )? ‘I don’t want to discuss personal issues. I had a great conversation with him. I think that he will play for Germany again, but I’m not sure. I look forward to our first eye to eye talk’, stressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). It will be interesting to see what new young players will be invited ‘We start at ground zero. I have had great conversations with many. I have been taken back by how much they are committed to want to have success. There will be variables with injuries and who is available. But we will always put together the best team possible’, said Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ).
It also will be very interesting to see the ex Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1) coach who hasn’t seen the sequel to the classic Coming To America but knows it’s always tough following up a classic handle players from his former team Fraport Skyliners. The Fraport Skyliners organization has been known for years to be an excellent breeding ground for young players. One very interesting player is 19 year old guard Len Schoormann who continues to develop beautifully in Frankfurt, but there are also other candidates. ‘Len is one of the 40 players on my list. He has played very well in pre-season. I will look at all the players and decide who is best. Frankfurt has many candidates. Lukas Wank is there. Unfortunately Bruno Vrcic is injured. Then there is also Richard Freudenberg who has had injury problems. There are currently a great group of players especially between 19-23 in Germany. Young players will get a chance to get experience during the next windows’, stated Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). One very interesting player he will have to observe from a far is Joshua Bonga the younger brother of Isaac who played under Herbert in Frankfurt and is currently in the NBA with Toronto. He surprisingly jumped ship from Frankfurt to go to uncharted waters in Lithuania to BC Zalgiris. It is never easy to make a risky move like that, but he does have a German coach with Martin Schiller and will have an opportunity to possibly play Euroleague. ‘I know Isaac well, but don’t know so much about Josh. I watched some games of him last season. He looked good. I have no idea why he left Frankfurt’, expressed Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). Herbert has been so instrumental for players developing in Frankfurt and making the next step . Two of those guys were Tyrone Ellis and Jordan Theodore. The love from them is immense. ‘I’m extremely happy and proud of him. Gordie and my college coaches were the most influential coaches in my career that made me into the coach that I am today. The reason is that he cares about the players more than he does their talent. We won a championship because we were one big family. We communicated well and always had each other’s back’, stressed Tyrone Ellis. ‘I’m extremely happy for Gordie. I’m still in contact with him today. He’s one of the few coaches I still talk to regularly. He is well known in Germany and loved. This will be a great opportunity for him. We all know that he is an outstanding coach who really gets through to his players. And I know that Danilo and big Joe are happy to be able to play for him again’, warned Jordan Theodore. It will be interesting to see how the German national team will perform under Gordon Herbert (agency: BeoBasket ). The team is riding a high and Herbert is seeking new success again. His love for the players will be there again and it won’t be any different from his players. History and experience simply show that the love is mutual from both sides and that it goes hand in hand.