Having that special friendship among certain NBA players is something that is seen every now and then over the years. For example the Bromance between Golden State Warriors Steph Curry and Klay Thompson also known as the splash brothers for their sniper like shooting tendencies has been strong leading them to multiple titles even if Curry has stolen the spotlight from him. Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony have had a unique bond since both came into the league in 2003 or Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant who lteams to come together in Brooklyn and proclaim wanting to win a title together. Sometimes even the competitive nature of two guys battling at the same position and minutes won’t interfere as fans witnessed in Oklahoma City with Enes Kanter of Turkey and Steven Admas of New Zealand some years ago. Both got along so well that they grew mustaches and were named the Stash brothers. These very remarkable bonds don’t only happen in the NBA, but even overseas. One very exceptional friendship is between Icelandic players Elvar Fridriksson (182-PG-1994, college: Barry) and Martin Hermannsson. But the difference between their comradeship and others is that there’s began during childhood and is still strong in 2022. However their basketball journeys have been quite different. Whereas both have played at a high level, it was Martin Hermannsson that actually made it to the absoluteghest Euroleague. ‘Me and Martin have been best friends our whole lives. Our parents are very good friends so we grew up together. Spent a lot of time together and started our college journey together. I decided to go my own path and finish my degree but Martin went pro after 2 years of college basketball. It has been amazing to see what he has achieved and how well his process has been. That makes me very happy to see how successful he has been in Europe. He has shown that it is possible to make it to the highest level even though we are from a small country. It has definitely not been difficult to see him being successful because of course I want my best friend to be successful, it has made me very happy to see how well he has done. I have always had my goals and I am just working towards them without trying to follow someone’s path’, stressed Elvar Fridriksson. The memories that Fridriksson has of his best friend are unending. ‘Off the court we have spent so much time together, the vacation trips to Orlando we went on together with our families when we were kids and most recently spending New Years together in Valencia was also a great time so nowadays when we spend time together is always a great time. On the court was probably when we were starting our college journey together, playing in Madison Square Garden and a film crew from Iceland made a documentary about that game, that was pretty cool. Our youth National team games and being called up to the Senior National team together at the same time was all a great experience’, remembered Elvar Fridriksson. There is absolutely no animosity from Fridriksson, but total love and respect, but how could it be any different among guys like these who have each other’s back through thick and thin. ‘Our friendship is very close and has always been. We have gone a very similar path in life, with starting in Iceland, going to college together and then become professional basketball players in Europe so we share very similar lifestyles therefore we have a lot of things in common. But Martin is a great person, down to earth and always a joy to be around. He is a confident person and is a social chameleon, it is easy for him to connect with anyone’, warned Elvar Fridriksson.
Elvar Fridriksson who lists Martin Hermannsson, Sunday Dech, Marcus Tyus, Andy Van Vliet, and Kristofer Acox as his five best teammates of all-time was born on November 11, 1994 in Njardvik, Iceland. He began his basketball career with the UMFN Njardvik junior team and showed his talent early on being selected to the countries youth national teams where he balled with the U-16 and U-18 teams. He took part at the European Championship U18 Division B in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 2012 playing 9 games averaging 10.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 34.9%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 78.3%. At the same time, he gained valuable experience playing pro ball with UMFN Njardvik (Iceland-Express League) from 2011-2014 playing a total of 79 games and really improving his game each season. In his last two seasons he averaged 19.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.8apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 79.3%, and 20.8ppg, 4.3rpg, Assists-2 (7.3apg), Steals-2 (2.5spg), FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 41.6%, FT: 75.7%. Thinking what could have been hadn’t he made the step to the States in 2014 never crossed his mind. ‘It was very important to get a few years in the top division in Iceland, I was allowed to grow as a player and play through my mistakes on the court which gave me the opportunity to go play college basketball. It is not easy to go from Iceland to NCAA division 1 because the exposure is not big so I was lucky to get to that point. I don’t think about “what if ” I would have gone pro earlier because it was always a dream to go to America to play college and I do not regret that decision because I created great memories, made a lot of friends and gained experience that I would not want to miss out on. I also got a college degree which is important so the path I took I believe was meant for me’, remembered Elvar Fridriksson. He had some massive games in his second to last season scoring 36 points against Stjarnan and 35 points against Snaefell. In his last season he hit Thor Thorl for 37 points.
After getting good experience in his homeland, the guard who has had his share of competitive duels against friend Martin Hermannsson wining some and losing some decided to take on a new challenge and go to the States and play NCAA ball with LIU Brooklyn (NCAA) in the 2014-2015 season. He had a very solid freshman campaign playing 30 games averaging 8.9ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 40.8%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 71.1%. Despite having a convincing first season in the NCAA, he took a step back the next season to play NCAA 2 ball. But for him, it was a step he had to take. Staying in Brooklyn just wouldn’t have felt right. ‘It is rare to see a freshman who starts every game in division 1 and had a solid season transfer to division 2 school but I felt the situation was not right for me. I didn’t see myself finish all 4 years in Brooklyn so I decided to go to a school that would fit me better. I transferred to a school in Miami that had 8 European d1 transfers on the team so the level was very competitive. I don’t think I took a step down basketball wise because in my opinion the team I was on was better than I was on at LIU. A lot of top division 2 schools are better than some of the lower division 1 schools I believe. I enjoyed it very much to play basketball at Barry University so I do not regret the decision of transferring’, stated Elvar Fridriksson. He scored in double figures in 13 games including hitting Maine and New Hampshire for 19 points apiece. No great personal experience there could have been better than playing together with Martin Hermannsson. ‘My favorite moments in Brooklyn was to share the court with Martin and play with him for a season. That is an opportunity that doesn’t come often’, said Elvar Fridriksson. He then played three years at Barry (NCAA2) being able to improve his season average of scoring and rebounds each season and averaged 7,0apg in his last two seasons. He averaged 18.5ppg, 4.5rpg, 7.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 56.8%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 87.0% as a junior and 19.8ppg, 3.1rpg, 7.1apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 41.8%, FT: 82.8% as a senior. He helped his school reach two NCAA 2 Elite 8’s. ‘Both runs were really sweet but losing a very tied game my senior year hurt more because I knew my college career was over and I wouldn’t get another chance’, commented Elvar Fridriksson. He played a total of 88 NCAA 2 games and scored in double figures in 23 of 25 games his senior year and scored 37 points against Embry Riddle, but topped that earlier in his career with 43 points against Tampa. But that wasn’t his most memorable game at Barry. ‘That game was for sure special and my best game scoring wise but both final games in regional championships probably stand out to me as my favorite games’, added Elvar Fridriksson. Being able to leave Barry and be ready to continue his professional career wouldn’t have been as easy hadn’t head coach Butch Estes been able to groom and prepare him the way he did. ‘Coach Estes gave me a lot of freedom on the court to develop as a player, I improved in the open court and to play 1 on 1 against taller and more athletic players’, remembered Elvar Fridriksson.
The Icelandic national player who rates current Dallas Maverick Luka Doncic as the toughest player he has ever faced on the court went back to Europe in 2018 to continue his professional career after 4 years in the States. He had never played professional outside of his homeland and now took on the challenge in France with Denain ASC Voltaire (France-ProB) averaging 4.8ppg, 1.4rpg, 3.2apg. It was a short stay, but the early growing pains were definitely a worthwhile experience in his continued basketball path for his development. ‘I was in France for 3 months, being a rookie in Europe is very challenging because the playing style is different. It takes time to adjust to the game but I only got two games in the regular season before they decided to get a more experienced point guard. It was a tough start to my career but the team needed a different type of player so I got to respect their decision and work even harder to be able to play on that level, so I had to go back to square one and go back to Iceland. Since then I have been in good situations to take steps in the right direction’, stressed Elvar Fridriksson. Even if his time in France was a learning experience and one where he had to pay his dues, being able to watch other talented guys like ex Missouri Southern State (NCAA2) great Marquis Addisson and learn was beneficial. ‘Of course I have followed his career, Marquis is a great guy and has worked really hard to get to the point where he is now. He has followed my path ever since Denain and he reaches out to me every season so we have followed each other. In France Marquis was one of the leaders of the team. He is a person that everyone wants to have on their team. He is a very competitive guy and a great shooter’, warned Elvar Fridriksson. He then returned home and finished the season in Iceland in a comfortable situation with to UMFN Njardvik (Dominos League) averaging 21.2ppg, 6.0rpg, 5.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 84.8%. He was very fortunate to have been able to experience Jeb Ivey’s last season before retiring. Ivey was a seasoned veteran who passed along vital attributes to him. ‘Jeb Ivey was playing his last season as a pro. He knew it was his last season but still his work ethic was unbelievable to see. He set the tone in every practice and made every drill competitive. It was great to learn from him and get to play with him his last season’, expressed Elvar Fridriksson. He definitely got his self-confidence back as he exploded for 40 points against Breidablik. In the next season in 2018-2019 he went to Sweden to play for Boras Basket (Sweden-Basketligan) where he didn’t disappoint finding his groove averaging 17.1ppg, 2.9rpg, Assists-1 (7.8apg), FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 78.6%. This was definatley a season he will never forget, because it helped his leverage on the basketball ladder and sort of got him better on the map in European basketball. ‘My season in Boras was very good, we had a good team and we finished number 1 in the league before the season was canceled due to Covid. It was a make or break season for me after a tough start in France so it was very important to get into a situation like I was in Boras. My confidence grew and I also had a great coach there that helped me a lot’, remembered Elvar Fridriksson. He scored in double figures in 27 of 31 Swedish-Basketligan games including 7 double doubles. He scored 27 points apiece against Djurgarden and Jamtland. Last season he played with BC Siauliai (Lithuania-LKL) being able to make another step in his game playing 36 games and averaging 15.3ppg, 2.9rpg, 7.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.6%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 77.6%. He was fifth in scoring and first in assists. For a player that already has a high IQ, playing in a country like Lithuania brought that part of his basketball knowledge to the next step. ‘I really enjoyed playing in Lithuania, unfortunately I played without fans in the arena but it was still amazing. The knowledge they have for the game is at a high level. Playing with veterans like Mindaugas Lukauskis and Kaspars Berzins was a good experience and I learned a lot from them. My coach at Siauliai was also a great teacher of the game, he taught me a lot of little details that helped me a lot so playing with and against players with high IQ definitely helped me get a better understanding of the game’, remembered Elvar Fridriksson.
So now let’s fast forward to 2022 as the ex Barry (NCAA29 standout who lists Lebron James as his personal GOAT played with the Telenet Giants Antwerp (Belgium-Euromillions League). and finished the season with Derthona Basket Tortona (Italy-Serie A). Despite playing for a great organization and city, the last two years haven’t been easy with Covid as he saw how it all developed in Sweden, Lithuania and then Belgium. It was a severe challenge, but one that also made him stronger as a man. ‘The biggest challenge on the court is to stay in rhythm because last season in Lithuania I spent a lot of time in and out of quarantine. Coming back from a 10 day break without practicing basketball breaks up the rhythm also here in Belgium I tested positive for the second time in 6 months so I am recovering from that now. Off the court it has been challenging to be without my family for a long time. There was a lockdown in Lithuania so I wasn’t able to see my wife and son for a long time so that was pretty tough. It definitely made me stronger, also made me appreciate the little things more. Trying to enjoy the moment more and have fun on the court’, warned Elvar Fridriksson. He has had the fortune to see new countries and leagues the last few years and it hasn’t been any different in Belgium. ‘It was a good experience playing in Belgium and also playing in a European competition. It is a completely different league from Lithuania so it took some time to adjust to the style that is played here. But I would say the level between those two leagues are very similar’, said Elvar Fridriksson. The Telenet Giants have won 14 titles and the ambition to perform very well is a goal for the team each season. ‘The long term goal is of course to finish as high as we can. We need to improve a lot of things and work hard to be able to play our best basketball when it matters the most. We aim high this season’, added Elvar Fridriksson. Over the years the club has had well known guys suit up like Jason Clark, Tremmel Darden, Paris Lee, Kevin Punter, or Michael Roll. It isn’t any different this season as the team got Markel Brown who played parts of three seasons in the NBA has given the team a push. ‘It has been great to play with Markel, he is a guy with experience from the highest level and he knows the game very well. I can learn a lot from him but whatever he did in the past does not give me confirmation that I can play at a certain level. I need to prove that myself with my game so hopefully I keep climbing the ladder and reach the highest level so I can show that I can play there’, warned Elvar Fridriksson. He also has worked his way into the Icelandic national team starting in 2013 and took part at the 2015 and 2017 European championships qualifiers, but had a limited role. But his role skyrocketed in 2021 at the 2023 European championships qualifiers as he played 8 games averaging 17.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 4.4apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 85.7%. He had a three point buzzer beater in the thrilling 86-85 win over Luxemburg and nailed Denmark for 30 points in a 91-70 win. He feels very much accepted by the national team now. ‘It was very important to get the trust from the coach and therefore I gained more confidence and more experience to play on that level which I believe will benefit me’, stressed Elvar Fridriksson.
The 182cm guard who lists Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Steph Curry on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is a player where one could compare his game to a Facundo Campazzo or JJ Barea. He can score a lot, but also has put up high assist stats his whole life. But one couldn’t call him a pass first guard. ‘I would say a little mix of both, depends on the role that the team I am on needs me to play. I personally think when I am aggressive to score it opens up more passing options for me’, stated Elvar Fridriksson. He ability to create is very dangerous and will punish a team in so many ways with his playmaking. There isn’t one kind of pass that he prefers more over others. ‘There is not a specific assist that comes to my mind but I would say my favorite assist is when it gets the team going. A dump off or an alley-oop for a dunk or for a three point shot’, stressed Elvar Fridriksson. The guy can do so much more than just score and dish out dimes, but is an above average rebounder for his size and a very aggressive defender. ‘My strengths are using the pick n roll to create or score and in the open court where there is a lot of space to attack. That’s where I am most comfortable’, expressed Elvar Fridriksson. He is nearing his prime, but may have a few more years to go, but he has the healthy mind set and work ethic where he knows as soon as he doesn’t have the hunger to keep grinding in the gym, then it’s time to pack it in. He knows that he still has many area’s where he can still get better at. ‘The areas I can improve most is to cut down turnovers, better decision making and more consistency in shooting the mid range. With more experience I will also improve all parts of my game but those are the ones I need to work on to get to the highest level’, stressed Elvar Fridriksson. One thing is for sure, no matter where Elvar Fridriksson lands in the next years, his best friend Martin Hermannsson will continue to support him. ‘He is not only my best friend but also we have been pushing each other to get better all our lives. On the court it could get heated and messy sometimes but right after the game it was like nothing happened. We call each other almost everyday and there is nothing we don’t know about each other’, stressed Martin Hermannsson. Perhaps one day they will play on the same team again outside the Icelandic national team. Then they can have daily one on one matches. Iceland will never lose at the end of a match anywhere in the world.
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