It really doesn’t matter what you yell at Lebron James when he is exiting a posh 5 star hotel anywhere in the States, he typically won’t stop to sign an autograph. The real Superman could have swopped in from the Prudential building in Boston with a Lebron James cape, and the real Lebron still would have head his head down and climbed on to the team bus like a robot. In a matter of a few minutes recently, I saw Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Lebron James, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard exit and nobody signed. A few days later it was the same procedure with mega super stars Kevin Durant and James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets. One just has to realize that these guys aren’t living on earth anymore, but are in their own personal galaxy. Of course all NBA teams are all very careful with COVID and that is very understandable, but even before the pandemic when life was normal, most of these NBA super stars didn’t sign. That is simply how it is in 2021. I remember as a kid, I loved collecting autographs and the players back then were so much generous, whether it was a Bernard King in 1984 just losing game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals and having that warm smile as if nothing had happened or other guys like the ice man George Gervin, World B Free or Ralph Sampson, they all signed and didn’t have a bad attitude like many of the stars today. I remember getting my first NBA team in 1981 with the Houston Rockets and remember the great Moses Malone signing my dirty scrape of paper. He didn’t have the best mood on this day, but that was probably because he had a notion that the Boston Celtics would win the NBA title. Now a days there are guys that sign like a Daniel Theis, Isaiah Roby or Josh Giddey, but getting a whole team like one could in the 80’s now isn’t a reality. It is always nice to see a young star like Oklahoma Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander having time for everyone, but that is one of the few exceptions and that might even change in a few years as he becomes a bigger star. I can understand NBA players hating on the professional autograph collectors who sell their signatures, but what about the little kids who get rejected? These are their hero’s and they look up to them.
It is a late Monday afternoon on St Nick day in Germany when I reach Quantez Robertson (188-G-84, college: Auburn, agency: Interperformances). He is spending quality time with his kids as I hear their voices in the back ground. During my stay in Boston recently, I kept Tez updated with the pics of the NBA superstars who excited the hotel and shunned me. I wanted to get Tez’s take on autographs. He has been signing autographs since his rookie season in Frankfurt in 2009. Since COVID, the normal after game autograph signing near the bench with fans hasn’t happened because of the safety precautions. ‘It is fun giving fans autographs. I prefer signing pictures, because they don’t always turn out so well on jersey’s. I like signing autographs, because I love to see how that can brighten up a kids’ day’, said Quantez Robertson. As a kid the ex Auburn (NCAA) great didn’t collect autographs mainly because he didn’t live near to where a professional team played. His most prized possession isn’t an autograph, but a photo. He had the pleasure of taking a picture with ex Auburn (NCAA) and NBA legend Charles Barkley. The ex Phoenix Sun watched an Auburn game and visited the locker room after the game. ‘I remember Charles talking to us and telling keep working and playing hard’, said Quantez Robertson. But it isn’t only the stars that don’t sign in the NBA, but also the normal lesser known guys like a DJ Augustin. Recently in Boston he came out of the hotel and everyone yelled his name and he said he would be right back. He walked on the bus then a few minutes later went back into the hotel. 10 minutes later he exited the hotel again and said ‘I’ll be right back’ and went on the bus. Augustin never came back to sign. ‘I don’t know why he did that. Maybe that was his way of letting the collectors down easy without saying no’, commented Quantez Robertson. In terms of why the NBA superstars don’t sign everything, Tez has a neutral answer for that. ‘I think that they sign as they can. The guys always have something to do. They sign some, but maybe not so much. There is only so much time that they have after a game with interviews and everything else. Some guys signs and some guys don’t’, expressed Quantez Robertson. I always thought that Quantez Robertson could have been in the NBA with his exceptional defense. Instead the Fraport Skyliners have been blessed to have his services now for 13 seasons. If Quantez Robertson had been a NBA superstar, he would not have let down any kids. ‘I would have signed for the kids. I would of tried to have signed as many as possible with the given time limit’, warned Quantez Robertson. One guy who has played with Lebron James and seen how the NBA works is Fraport Skyliner Will Cherry who has his own take on autograph collectors. ‘With Lebron it was crazy. Fans were everywhere and always at the hotels. I never saw him sign. I think he signed more when he was younger. Kyrie Irving signed back then. Some do it and some don’t. Fans aren’t entitled to autographs. Fans watch games and the players entertain. I sign autographs, but all players are different. You don’t know what is going on in a player’s life especially a Lebron. A guy like that is pulled in so many ways. It’s not about ego’s. Guys have things to do. They are asked 365 days a year to sign. After a while they aren’t going to want to do it. It is the same for you and me. There are days where we don’t want to go to work and there are days where NBA players don’t want to sign. I was never into getting autographs or waiting for a team to arrive at the hotel at 2.00Am’, stressed Will Cherry.
After the FIba break, the Fraport Skyliners were back in action and defeated the Hakro Merlins 80-73 as team captain and easyCredit BBL identity figure Quantez Robertson was back in action after having been out of 6 weeks. The club removed themselves from the cellar area and currently have a 2 game winning streak and are in 14th place. ‘It felt good to get this win. We won against 2 good teams and this is important for the club and the fans’, stated Quantez Robertson. It wasn’t an easy 40 minutes as the Fraport Skyliners did a great job managing the lead in the fourth quarter and showed a certain toughness in tough times. But there was another vital component that helped the team win against a very good team. ‘We came out and had fun and just enjoyed everything. We had some bad turnovers at the start, but never hung our heads or pouted, but just fought until the end moving the ball well and hitting shots’, stressed Quantez Robertson. The craziest stat of the night was the rebounding dominance as Frankfurt won the battle on the boards 50-27 and secured 16 offensive rebounds. ‘When I saw the 50 rebounds, I was shocked that we outrebounded them by so much. The last time I remember us rebounding like that was in my first 2 years where we were very big at the 4/5 position and in 15-16 when we had Joe, Danilo and Mike’, laughed Quantez Robertson. Another crazy stat was just 2 rebounds from Tez who usually is at the top of the rebounding list. They didn’t need him on this day. ‘We rebounded very well as a team. Lorenz had 12 rebounds, Lukas made some tough rebounds and Will had 9 rebounds. We were beating each other for the rebound. We attacked the boards very well and wanted the ball so badly in order to get extra possessions’, commented Quantez Robertson. Frankfurt had problems with 1-1 defense at the start, but that shouldn’t be a problem for 40 minutes. ‘We weren’t locked in and didn’t pay attention. Some guys are like that at the start. Guys are guessing more and getting beat or turn their heads and aren’t listening’, stated Quantez Robertson.
Tez who believes the recent Scottie Pippen bashing of his ex teammate Michael Jordan won’t tarnish his legacy as his basketball speaks for himself is very excited to be able to play with new teammate Jamel Mclean who should make his debut in Bayreuth this weekend. The ex Xavier (NCAA) center who played 93 Euroleague games has played in countries like Spain, Russia, Italy, Greece and Belgium and brings a lot of experience and his claim to fame is his 2014 buzzer beater with Alba Berlin over the San Antonio Spurs and NBA legend Tim Duncan. ‘I remember his half court buzzer beater. He will bring a very good inside presence. We don’t get the ball inside so much, but he will be a nice addition inside and be another scoring option. He also is a good defender’, warned Quantez Robertson. Two guys that continue to develop nicely are BBL rookies Dutch 221 cm giant Matt Haarms and ex Alba Berlin German Lorenz Brenneke. In the win over Crailsheim, they combined for 43 minutes and 18 points and 18 rebounds and are also a big help with their IQ and passing out of the post. ‘Matt does a good job finding guys off the pick and roll and Lorenz does the same when he is posted up. They are harmonizing well and finding each other on the high/low. Matt is more comfortable outside the paint while Lorenz likes to bang inside and attack the rebound like crazy’, said Quantez Robertson. Another guy that has been vital for the current success and upward trend of the Fraport Skyliners is point guard Will Cherry. He has come in and given the team an important veteran presence at the point guard position and helped lead the team. His experience isn’t his biggest strength. ‘His biggest strength is his defense presence. He is a good on ball defender, can guard the other team’s best player and is a good pick and roll defender. Plus his ability to get to the rim helps us a lot’, commented Quantez Robertson. Another player that is making a very good development is young German Len Schoormann especially on offense where he led the team with 17 points as his drive is getting close to unstoppable and his three is still improving. In the game against Crailsheim, he missed some defensive assignments, but Tez defended the young buck. ‘He was lax on defense on some of the mistakes. He usually doesn’t make those mistakes and is more aggressive. He was a few seconds off, but he also was chasing TJ Shorts around a lot and was probably tired. It was an off day for him’, warned Quantez Robertson. Another player who is finally finding his groove is German national player Lukas Wank. He had an awful start to the season where he was playing totally under expectations. But against Crailsheim he had a great game with 13/4/3 stats and is finding his touch on offense. A reason for his slow start was simply that he wasn’t playing his normal position. ‘He began at the point guard position, but that isn’t his natural position. He plays better at the three. There he can roam around more and go for rebounds and not worry about getting back. He is more comfortable checking wings instead of the point guards. You can see that he is having more fun now’, stressed Quantez Robertson.
Despite Anthony Davis not having stepped up in the last weeks where Lebron was out, Tez still sees him as a current top 5 player in the NBA with Lebron, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Giannis. He returned back playing 28 minutes and posted 11/2/3 stats. ‘It was good to be back and playing with the guys and fighting and playing the game I love. My performance was ok. I could of done better defensively. I only had 2 rebounds and a few turnovers. But overall it was a pretty solid game for my first time back’, said Quantez Robertson. Even with Tez almost being 37, his offensive game hasn’t ebbed, but he was still performing at a high level before his injury. Being aggressive is a trait that he has continued to live by and that won’t change even with more offensive options on board with Mclean, Cherry and Badio. ‘I can still be that scoring option that I was before I was out. Coach relies on me being that veteran that can score and make plays for everyone else’, stressed Quantez Robertson. He hasn’t been used to being injured much in his career and he is confident that his game will keep progressing in the future coming off this injury. ‘I have to get back to being mentally solid on defense and calm my nerves. I want to keep taking my shots and doing what I have always been doing’, warned Quantez Robertson. Quantez Robertson is back and so are the Fraport Skyliners. They head into the next tough game in Bayreuth where they want to keep the winning streak alive. One can only imagine how the Fraport Skyliners will be when Jamel Mclean and Brancou Badio are in the roster. ‘We have had injuries and guys playing out of position. But we will very good when those 2 guys are there. Our team chemistry isn’t all the way there yet, but once they are there and all is flowing, we will be a lot better’, warned Quantez Robertson. The chances are slim that one will get a Lebron James autograph on the street, but the chances a lot better that the Fraport Skyliners will continue to do positive things in the next weeks as they continue to try to climb up the BBL ladder against teams they can beat.