It was near the end of the 2010-2011 season as playoff team Fraport Skyliners were on the road dueling against BBC Bayreuth who were surviving for their lives to stay in the Beko BBL. The guy that stood out most was Skyliner Dashaun Wood who would be MVP that season as he almost single-handedly won the game for Frankfurt. But on this night a team effort by Bayreuth in OT and Danny Gibson’s interesting post game words stayed in my memory most. After the massive 89-76 victory, Danny Gibson was exhausted and relived and saw eye to eye to what Dashaun Wood had told me previously. ”I would have to agree with Dashaun Wood on dressing up as a woman as something I don’t want to do, but would rather do than have to go down to the second league, but we want to stay in the beko BBL and just wanted it more tonight. We came together as a team and just fought it out’, stressed 2010 Dutch league top scorer Danny Gibson. But there was also something else that I remember from that exciting night and that was Marcus Ginyard (195-F/G-1987, college: UNC, agency: Slash Sports). He was a guy that I had been really excited to watch that season because he had come from top NCAA basketball institution North Carolina. Ok so he wasn’t a Wayne Ellington or Danny Green who would go on to play in the NBA, but still he was a NCAA champion that did his part to help the school achieve greatness in his time there. He had scored 17 points in the Bayreuth loss in Frankfurt earlier in the season and got revenge in OT netting 10 points, hauling down 7 rebounds, dishing out 2 dimes and hitting a crucial free throw late in the fourth to force OT. His rookie season in Bayreuth would be one that he and fans would never forget. ‘When it was announced that Marcus would come to Bayreuth there was a lot of hype. I was super excited to see him play. It was rare for a guy to come from NC and play in Germany. It was a rough season for Bayreuth who had come from the second league after not having been in the BBL for many years. He had a rough start, but then had a very good phase in the middle of the season. He was an allrounder, great defender that always fought on the court and wanted to win. He was a friendly down to earth guy and no one had anything bad to say about him. He was also funny not like typical American rookies who come overseas for first time and are shy He was loved and most appreciated by the fans’, remembered long time Bayreuth basketball follower Fabian Beierlein. His time with BBC Bayreuth will always have a very special place in his heart. ‘It was special for a number of reasons. It was my first professional season, so naturally there will be some strong impressions made during a rookie campaign. But it was also special because I was surrounded by great people. My teammates, coaches, management, and the fans were so supportive, focused, and really concerned with doing things the right way. We played together as a team, and we fought hard as a city! I was extremely blessed to play in Bayreuth’, warned Marcus Ginyard. Marcus Ginyard recently announced his retirement after playing 11 seasons and for 12 organizations in 8 countries.
Marcus Ginyard who lists Golden State Warrior Steph Curry as his toughest opponent in the NCAA that went to the NBA was born on May 8th, 1987 in Rochester, New York. He and his family moved to Virginia when he was young. He was introduced to the game by his mother who played in the marine corps basketball league. He played high school ball at Bishop O’Connell High School and then played at one of the countries best basketball schools North Carolina from 2005-2010 where he majored in communication. He had incredible success there and experienced things that most players can only dream about playing in 4 NCAA tournaments, reaching the final 4 twice, winning the ACC title twice, reaching the NIT final and best of the best wining it all in 2009 at March Madness. It is only obvious that he gets fired questions about that 2009 run. ‘Most people ask what it was like to crush everyone the way we did. And honestly, most people don’t ask anything, they just tell me how much fun it was to watch our team’, remembered Marcus Ginyard. He played with 13 future NBA players and could write a fascinating book about his time at Chapel Hill and have non ending stories about his teammates, but there isn’t a teammate where he could spill the beans more about than Danny Green. ‘We were roommates from our very first day on campus together in the summer of 2005. But the beautiful thing about playing at Carolina is that we are all brothers. All the former players create an amazing fraternity that stays very close’, said Marcus Ginyard. He wasn’t that lethal scorer, but the guy that everyone wants on the team and just can’t do without. His big strength was on the defensive end as he showed his versatility being able to play 4 positions and was defensive player of the game 20 times out of the 107 NCAA games he suited up for. Head coach Roy Williams was instrumental in him becoming the player he became overseas and person off the court. ‘He knew that all of his lessons of basketball would translate to our lives after hoops as well. Roy also took a lot of time to talk to us about being respectful young men as well. I’m lucky to have had a coach that was as interested in our development as men just as much as he was in our development as players’, added Marcus Ginyard. Some of his best stats in the NCAA included hitting UC Santa Barabra for 17 points, hauled down 10 boards at Clemson, and dished out 6 assists against Wake Forest and Arkansas.
He began his professional career in Germany with BBC Bayreuth. So often Americans come over and have trouble getting adjusted to the culture shock. But he found out right away that if he could make a living playing the game he loves, he would have to adapt no matter what. ‘I lived on top of a bakery in my first apartment in Germany. I remember walking in there and no one spoke any English, which now seems so silly of me to think that they would, but I just remember how I felt knowing I had a long road ahead of me trying to figure out how to manage life off the court if I couldn’t speak any German! It motivated me to learn German though, which I did really well that first year’, remembered Marcus Ginyard. BBC Bayreuth had very talented guys, but the team just had a lot of misfortune that season. They began the season very slow losing 7 of the first 8 games and never recovered. Despite not having success, he has great memories of his teammates. He still has contact to them today. ‘This reminds me that I need to reach out to Koko Archibong! I was lucky enough to see Phil Heyden back in 2016 when I came to Germany to visit during a break while playing in France. Jared Reiner actually sent me a message a few days ago when he saw the news about my retirement. Another example of why that year in Bayreuth was so special’, stated Marcus Ginyard. In 2015, he told me that he would love to play in Germany again, because his time in Bayreuth felt like home. Unfortunately he would never play in Germany again. Despite losing so many games as a rookie in Germany, the connection he made there with everyone shows just how much his heart was there and will always be there. ‘I’m sad that opportunity never presented itself for me. I would have never played this long if I didn’t have such a wonderful experience in Germany as a rookie. I want to take this chance to say thank you to Bayreuth, the city, the club, the people. They opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. There are some people from Bayreuth I’m still in close contact with to this day and that means the world to me’, warned Marcus Ginyard. It really doesn’t matter who you talk to in German basketball, but all had a positive memory of him. ‘He was a first class defender and always improved his offensive game. He had a top character. Unfortunately I only had him one season’, remembered then Bayreuth head coach Andreas Wagner.
He played his second professional season with Ironi Nahariya (Israel-National League) averaging 21.2ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.2apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 85.8%. Most Americans that I have interviewed that had the opportunity to ball in Israel have raved about the culture, food and weather, but the ex North Carolina Tar Heel wasn’t one of those. ‘Actually, I didn’t love this experience by any means. Israel was a beautiful place to live in for sure, but there’s a lot that goes into a season and it’s more than basketball. How professional was your organization? Were you paid on time? Were the terms of the contract upheld? Was all of your visa and administrative paperwork done correctly and on time’, remembered Marcus Ginyard. In terms of scoring, this was his best season as he scored in double figures in 26 of 28 games, scored 20 points or more 13 times and 30 points or more six times including having 37 and 30 points. You would think he would agree with this being his best season. ‘Honestly I don’t think so’, stated Marcus Ginyard. Early in his career he also decided to see what the D-League is like and played with Westchester averaging 7.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.9apg, 2FGP: 55.1%, 3FGP: 36.8%, FT: 72.0%. For some contemplating how hard it could be getting to the NBA back in 2014 in comparison to 2022 is a great discussion at the breakfast table, but thinking what could and what could not have been with the NBA was never on his menu. ‘ I hardly even wonder about that. I have no idea how easy it is to get into the NBA’, stressed Marcus Ginyard. He scored 17 points against Canton and 15 points a piece against Iowa and Oklahoma. He also played a season in the Ukraine with Azovmash Mariupol (Ukraine-Superleague) averaging 15.5ppg, 5.3rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 45.3%, 3FGP: 44.8%, FT: 80.4%; and in the VTB United League averaged 14.8ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.5apg, 2FGP: 64.1%, 3FGP: 27.8%, FT: 80.8%. The VTB is considered a top league in Europe and he played against top Euroleague team CSKA Moscow losing 75-40 and battled top guys like Sonny Weems, Nenad Krstic, Jeremy Pargo and Sasha Kaun. He played against so many great teams in his career, but talent wise none was like this one. ‘ I just remember feeling severely outmatched. They beat us in every single way. I think it could be the best team I’ve played against in my career’, warned Marcus Ginyard. He had great games in the VTB League netting 24 points against Triumph and 21 points against Krasny Oktyabr.I. In the 2015-2016 season, he had his first tour of duty in France with Hermine Nantes Atlantique (France-ProB) averaging 9.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 68.4%. Sometimes that first time is so sweet that you just have to come back later in your career. ‘I remember how much I loved playing in France. We had a great group of guys. I also remember wanting to get back to France after that which I was fortunate enough to accomplish. Pro B was a difficult league to play in. Extremely physical, a little crazy, but I have a lot of respect for Pro B players and teams’, remembered Marcus Ginyard. He scored in double figures in 17 games that season including 21 points against St Chamond.
The swingman who lists Quentin Thomas Phil Heyden Ruben Boykin Deividas Dulkys Giordan Watson and Speedy Smith as his best teammates of all-time played for various teams in Poland with Anwil Wloclawek (Poland-PLK) averaging 12.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 78.6%, Stelmet Zielona Gora (Poland-TBL) averaging 6.0ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.0spg, FGP: 57.5%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 65.9%, Energa Czarni Slupsk (Poland-TBL) averaging 11.1ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.1apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 45.0%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 86.8% and for Asseco Arka Gdynia (Poland-EBL) averaging 8.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 63.2%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 73.3%. You would think that when you played parts of four seasons in a country and reached two league finals that a player must have enjoyed his time there, but that isn’t always the case. ‘I don’t remember enjoying the majority of my time there. Poland was a place that typically paid very late, and there always seemed to be some organizational issues. I always found myself in Poland though, so for some reason I was also back there. It was a lot of fun playing in Gdynia, though. I enjoyed that much more than the other seasons there for sure. Again, there are so many different factors that play into whether I enjoyed my time somewhere. I did meet a lot of great people in Poland, many whom are still friends of mine to this day’, said Marcus Ginyard. He played a total of 142 league games in Poland and scored in double figures in 70 games including 27 points against Siarka, 25 points against Energa Czarni and 23 points against PGE Turow. He definitely left it all on the court and demonstrated again that he could adapt to any new league with his play. In 2017-2018 he won his only pro title with KK Rabotnicki AD Skopje (FYR Macedonia) averaging 15.9ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.2apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 59.8%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 78.4%. This was a season where his scoring and offensive capabilities were in the spotlight. He had some monster games against Shkupi with 37 points, 28 points against Pelister Bitola and 27 points against Kozuv. But he saved his best for last for the final series against MZT Skopje where the last two games were combined decided by 4 points. He didn’t explode on the offensive end like in previous games scoring 11 and 12 points, but let his biggest strength do the talking as he was the defensive stopper steering the team to the win with 7 steals in those last two games and 5 in the last game. ‘That was a crazy series! We had to play game 2 over two days because we had to stop the game due to some fan violence. The next day we started the game from the 3rd quarter without any fans! It was an awesome experience to win a professional title, but it was a pain in the butt to take KK Rabotnicki to FIBA BAT for our bonus’, remembered Marcus Ginyard. Success had to do also with having the right mix of teammates like fellow veteran Sean Evans who like Ginyard was a rookie in Germany a year after him. ‘Sean was a great teammate! I’m happy to see he’s been successful since our time together’, expressed Marcus Ginyard.
In 2018-2019 he was able to experience another new country and league with CSU Oradea (Romania-Liga Nationala) averaging 8.1ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.1apg, 2FGP: 55.1%, 3FGP: 23.3%, FT: 75.8%. and in the FIBA Europe Cup averaged 10.5ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.2apg, 2FGP: 65.2%, 3FGP: 47.1%, FT: 64.3%. He helped the team reach the Super Cup final. He wasn’t one of those typical Americans that hangs out in the apartment all day long playing playstation, but wanted to soak in as much as possible from his new home that season. ‘Soaking up the culture wherever I played was always a very high priority for me, mainly because of my experience in Germany my rookie season. When I decided to dive head first into the people, the culture, and the experience of living in a foreign country, that’s when it felt the most rewarding. Scary, for sure, but really rewarding. I saw some very interesting things in Romania, and everywhere else I played’, added Marcus Ginyard. He scored 17 points against Timisoara and in Fiba Europe Cup had 14 points against Turkish team Sakarya BSB and had German team Wurzburg’s number scoring 12 and 13 points. He then closed out his professional career returning to France and balling with Limoges CSP Elite (France-Jeep ELITE ProA) averaging 9.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 48.3%, FT: 80.0%; and 6.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 88.2%. He scored 20 points against Bourg, 18 points against Le Mans and 15 points against Monaco. He had fun also off the court having much trash talk with ex NBA player Demarkus Nelson as he was a Duke boy. Talking about the incredible North Carolina-Duke rivalry can help pass the time. He also had good games in the Eurocup scoring 15 points against Partizan NIS and in the Basketball Champions League scoring 12 points against Hapoel Jerusalem.
The Virginia native who didn’t beat Tar Heel teammate Danny Green who isn’t a 3 time NBA champion by accident in one on one’s back in the day had to deal with COVID the last few years just like everyone else on this planet. He had to deal with the new challenges and like most other players overseas got by them. ‘One of the biggest challenges of course with something like that was being so far away from my family and support system. Everyone across the globe was going through a fairly traumatic experience and it was even more difficult being thousands of miles away from my family and friends during that time. However, I was lucky to have some great people in Limoges that helped me tremendously’, remembered Marcus Ginyard. Seeing so much hardship in the world made him see life in a totally new and different perspective that helped him during basketball and will help him as well after. ‘COVID has made me reconsider the importance of certain things in my life and I believe it will make me a better person in the long run. It also provided an intense exercise for dealing with unexpected adversity’, warned Marcus Ginyard. So let’s fast forward to 2022. The time arrived for Marcus Ginyard to retire. Often guys do it because of age and physical fatigue, but he had other reasons. ‘You know, I didn’t look at it from an age standpoint, or physical ability, it really was more about how I felt about professional basketball mentally and emotionally. Spending more than a decade away from your friends and family takes a toll on you. I was very fortunate to have some interesting opportunities present themselves, and I felt that it was time to take on new life challenges’, warned Marcus Ginyard. I personally would have enjoyed seeing him keep playing, because on the floor, he still had the right stuff. ‘I’m glad that you felt like I was still playing at a high level. Physically I absolutely could have played longer. Mentally, I’m not so sure. And I wasn’t prepared to take the risk’, stressed Marcus Ginyard. His decision was definitely one that was well thought out. ‘There were a few factors that over time began to cost more to me than what I was getting out of playing basketball professionally. Before this Christmas I had never been with my niece and nephew during Christmas. I had never been with them on their birthdays. I’ve spent Thanksgiving with my family twice in 15 years. Getting paid late and not in full makes you feel differently at 30 years old than it does at 22 years old. Packing up your life and moving to a new country and a new team every year starts to get old. Missing potential business or job opportunities because I’m not home in the US starts to feel different. Just knowing that basketball isn’t forever, and that there’s a whole next chapter of my career that I would like to get started on made me look at this off season differently that I had looked at a lot of summers previous to now’, said Marcus Ginyard.
The ex North Carolina player who obviously supports Michael Jordan as the greatest of all-time has accepted a job at Medalist Capital in North Carolina as vice president which is a nice new stepping stone right after basketball. ‘My focus was my future, on finding stability in my life to make a big step in my personal growth and development. I felt like I needed to get grounded somewhere, and take on some new challenges that would ultimately lead me closer to my life goals’, stressed Marcus Ginyard. Of course he won’t disappear from basketball. How can anyone do that from the game they love? ‘ I will always be connected to basketball. Basketball will always be in my blood. I’ll start by going to all the UNC games that I can since I’ve missed over a decade of Carolina games’, stressed Marcus Ginyard. He played 379 professional games. I was surprised when I checked that we only did 3 interviews together. Our last was in the summer of 2015. Personally I’m a bit disappointed that we hadn’t done more, because he was always a great read. ‘That’s crazy to think about considering we’ve known each other more than 10 years! I’m glad we managed to connect again for an interview. Thanks for thinking of me. You’ve always been great to work with and I appreciate that a lot’, stressed Marcus Ginyard. It is always sad to see guys retire who you watched a whole career long. For me Marcus Ginyard was a real hard competitor on the court that played until the siren sounded and did all he could to help his team win. Off the court he was a genuine good guy and most important for me never said no to an interview of mine. I wish him continued all the best and who knows maybe he will do more at the Dean Smith center in the future than just watch games.