For some guys all it takes is to fall in love with one woman and they become a one woman guy and lifer. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have been married since 34 years, Denzel and Pauletta Washington have kept the fire burning for 45 years while Ron and Cheryl Howard are still going strong after 52 years. It isn’t any different for professional basketball players. In the easyCredit BBL one generation is slowly dying out as Rickey Paulding and Per Gunther recently retired after showing their neverending loyalty and dedication to the Ewe Baskets and ratiopharm ulm for 15 and 14 years. Fraport Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson is keeping the torch up as he will play in his 14th season with Frankfurt this season. Ok so no player will ever remain 30 plus years together with an organization simple because their bodies won’t be able to go that long, but playing 15 years for 1 organization in modern times is just unheard of. What Rickey Paulding did with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg will probably never happen again. Maybe another American named Tucker Haymond (198-G-1994, college: W.Michigan) will finally play a long time with one organization. Even if that doesn’t happen, he will at least play in Japan for a long time. The American who loves to shoot the deep 3 played with 7 teams in his first 4 seasons including in the G-League, Cyprus and the Czech Republic as well as in Germany where he played with 4 organizations with the Rhein Stars, Hamburg, Schalke and Wedel. His globetrotting ways continued last season as he got a new stamp on his passport as he played at the other side of the world in Japan. After moving around so much in his career, I figured he might continue that and move back to Germany a place that showed him so much love in his time there, but boy was I wrong. ‘The next step for me is staying in Japan. I plan on staying in Japan for the rest of my career, I have really found a place that I’m comfortable and I really love everything Japan has to offer. The opportunity for players making money in Japan is also really great. People in third division Japan can make the same money as a Euroleague player. I’m very excited for next season with my new team and teammates, my goal is to win as many games as possible’, warned Tucker Haymond. But if he wants to catch ex easyCredit BBL player Jeff Gibbs, he will have to play a long time as the Ohio native has played 12 seasons in Japan.
Tucker Haymond is a 27 year old 198cm guard from Washington state that wanted to find a new challenge with Toyoda Gosei Scorpions Aichi (Japan-B3 League) and one can say the rest is history. I reach the American during the dog days of summer in July is enjoying his time back home seeing family and friends, but also dabbling with golf and Real Estate to keep him busy. Just like everyone else, he had to continue to live through Covid and did the best that he could with all the regulations, testing, game cancellations, practice cancelations, and multiple quarantines. But it was a part of the game worldwide and he just had to learn to adapt to every new situation and go with the flow. When he came to Japan at the start of the 2022-2023 season, he didn’t see too much new things with the restrictions as it had been similar to what he had seen in Germany in Hamburg and Wedel. Going to the other end of the world can be overwhelming, but it didn’t take him long to fall in love with Japan. ‘I was a little nervous at first because I had never been to Asia before. But I quickly learned that the culture and people were very welcoming and it was nothing but amazing’, said Tucker Haymond. Often the way guys are able to present their unique basketball skills reflects how they are able to deal with the off court experience. It is no secret that things are done differently in Japan and their culture is very different to what Americans are used to. The love for the country was there from the start mainly because he was welcomed by loving arms. ‘I really enjoyed the Japanese customs. It was very unique and it’s something you can’t experience in America or Europe. There is a lot of things that are unique to Japan, which I enjoyed because it was completely different and learning to adapt to different cultures is something that I enjoy. It was not difficult to adapt, in my opinion it was easy because the people were very nice and helpful’, remembered Tucker Haymond.
The Seattle native who currently lists 4 time NBA champion Steph Curry as a top 3 NBA point guard of all-time played for Toyoda Gosei Scorpions Aichi. I have covered guys who have played in the Japanese first and second divisions, but never a guy in the third division called B-3. In the Japanese B-3 league you saw the range of teams go from being 44-4 to 1-47. One would be surprised just how competitive and good the skill level is when comparing it to German leagues. ‘ The range of talent in Japan was very big. The top teams in B3 would be a top team in Pro A Germany. And have some BBL talent for individual players. The rest of the teams would compare to mid level teams such as Czech league to a top level pro B Germany teams’, stated Tucker Haymond. In Germany the third league is the Pro B and the differences to the B-3 is like night and day. For him it was as if he had never left BBL team Haburg Towers where he balled a few years ago. ‘From my experience and what I hear most of the teams are run like a BBL team in Germany. Traveling was amazing, the food and hotels was awesome to experience. We always travel a day before games and it is always set up very professional. I really enjoyed my first year in Japan’, commented Tucker Haymond. One thing one never sees in Europe are back to back games. He had seen it on occasion in the G-League as a rookie, but seeing the extent to how it is used in Japan needed time getting used to. ‘Back to back games every weekend was definitely different. In the G league we had a few back to backs but not always. Some days in Japan we would play 2 games within 17 hours. It’s a challenge, but it just adds an element to the game of learning your body even more, and learning when to recover, when to save your energy and when to exert your energy. Everyone has the same schedule so it was the same for everyone in all leagues’, expressed Tucker Haymond. Even if he was only in the third division, he was able to battle every game against a top notch player. ‘We played a few EX- NBA players. The quality of Americans in Japan is very good. Most Americans have a high level resume in USA and Europe. It’s a very competitive league to get into. The toughest opponent would be AJ Gaines. Very skilled wing player and we had some good battles playing against each other. I always enjoyed playing against him’, warned Tucker Haymond.
The ex Western Michigan (NCAA) great who feels that the pick ups of Brogdon and Gallinari really improved the Boston Celtics and could have been the missing pieces to a ring last season has put up consistent stats his whole career and it wasn’t any different in Japan. He played 30 games and averaged 18.9ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 79.2%. He is his hardest critic and only gave himself a C. Not winning and shooting his second worst percentage in Europe from the parking lot held him from not giving himself a better grade. But being the sniper that he is lacking in self-confidence isn’t in his vocabulary. ‘I’ve had a down year in % before. Last time was my first year in Germany. It was a bit of a transition to get used to the style of play and finding where my shots will come. Next year returning to Japan I will have a greater understanding for all of these things and I am confident my percentages will be where they normally are in the 40% range.’, warned Tucker Haymond. He scored in double figures in 27 of 30 games. He scored 20 points or more in 15 games. His fondest moment was closing out the season scoring 55 points combined in 2 victories over Kanazawa on the last game weekend where he also was able to show his all-around game. He also hit Kagoshima for 31 points and Tokyo HT for 30 points. He wants to continue to make the next step in Japan and is very busy at the moment grinding in the lab. ‘Right now I’m working on being able to play the 1 a bit more. Working on getting a deeper range and more consistent on tough shots off the dribble’, stressed Tucker Haymond. Two and a half years ago as he was paying basketball dues after having to leave Cyprus, he returned to Cologne to keep in shape and stay ready at the phone for the next challenge. Life was so tough that he had to sleep on the floor for a month. He overcame that ordeal and basketball life is very good again. When your in Japan, it is common to sleep on the floor under much better conditions then what he witnessed back in 2019. But so far it hasn’t become a reality yet. ‘Unfortunately I was not able to experience sleeping on the floor in Japan, although I had heard it was very traditional and many people I know lived like this, it is still a goal of mine to sleep at a traditional Japanese hotel with no beds. I think it would be an awesome and unique experience’, stressed Tucker Haymond. Since he has proclaimed that he will become a Japanese lifer in basketball, the chances are good that he will get that experience on the floor again, but only this time not have an aching body the next morning.