A little more than 8 years ago Will Cherry (185-PG-1991, college: Montana) had the fabulous opportunity to strap on the Cavs jersey and get to play the game that he loved with the GOAT Lebron James and uncle Drew Kyrie Irving. At that same time Quantez Robertson was already an established played in the German easyCredit BBL and in his sixth season and belonged to the top defenders. Fast forward to 2023 and all 4 are still active. Irving has played for a few teams and now is on his way to Dallas to wreck serious havoc with Luka Doncic while Lebron James got a NBA title to Cleveland and since is playing with the Lakers. Cherry on the other hand has proved to be on the move since his Cavs days having played in 5 different countries and for 8 organizations. Only one guy has been faithful to one organization and that is Quantez Robertson who is in his 14th season with the Fraport Skyliners. Last season Cherry and Robertson who is known as Tez to anyone who follows basketball in Germany were teammates. This season, the ex Alba Berlin guard Will Cherry moved to the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in December and met Quantez Robertson again on Sunday, but this time as foes. But this time something was very different than last season. This time he could of greeted Tez with ‘hey what’s good Mr Skyliner alltime leading scorer’. But actually these guys have remained good friends and spent sometime together before Sunday’s game. ‘Tez is my boy. We talk all the time. I was really happy to see him again in Ludwigsburg. I had him over to the house the night before the game and I cooked burgers and fries and we chopped it up about our families. I’m really very happy for his feat. He has put up tremendous stats for the longest time. The Skyliner all-time leading scorer title is just another accolade for him during his great career with the Fraport Skyliners and in the BBL’, stressed ex Alba Berlin guard Will Cherry. There haven’t been many Americans overseas that have played as long as guys like Rickey Paulding did for the EWE Baskets for 15 seasons or Tez for the Fraport Skyliners. Are these guys a dying breed overseas? ‘I don’t know but you just don’t see Americans overseas staying that long with one team. You see guys sticking around with Euroleague team where your paid great salaries. Us Americans don’t come here focusing to stay with 1 team. For us it’s a business. We aren’t in the NBA. We come overseas strictly for the money and if we win titles along the way then great’, warned Will Cherry. With Lebron James only 36 points away, Will Cherry can very soon say I was teammates with the NBA all-time leading scorer and with the Fraport Skyliners all-time leading scorer with Quantez Robertson, a fact that he is very proud of. ‘I’m always asked about Lebron, but I never brag about it. People at home brag about it. I’m proud that I can tell my 2 year old daughter who already loves basketball one day that I played with one of the greatest players of all-time. Lebron passed me the ball for my first NBA basket and he always gave me good advice. Tez is a like a brother but even better person. What Tez does on the court is who he is. It is just an incredible feat that Tez has stayed with one team. In the end it has rewarded him’, stressed Will Cherry.
Post game interview Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Quantez Robertson after securing the Fraport Skyliners all-time scoring record
Will Cherry who played Euroleague in Greece with Olympiakos a few years ago met his ex team Fraport Skyliners last weekend and helped lead the team to a convincing 96-81. The MHP Riesen hadn’t been playing great basketball as of late as they arrived into the contest riding a 3 game losing streak and had lost 5 of the last 6 games and in between had masterfully beat FC Bayern Munich. One saw a sense of urgency from the get go, but it wasn’t necessarily because of revenge from losing the first game in Frankfurt. ‘We had a sense of urgency from the last loses. We were up 20 points in some games and still let teams steal games from us. We wanted to get back on track against Frankfurt’, warned Will Cherry. The MHP Riesen began well from the start gaining control, but always allowed the Fraport Skyliners to stick around. ‘Our start was vital. We hadn’t done it the last games except against Crailsheim. We had foot on the necks of our opponents, but couldn’t keep it. Even if they went on a run later, we still kept our foot on the gas’, said Will Cherry. One guy who is having an incredible rookie season is ex Notre Dame (NCAA) great Prentis Hubb who is top 5 in scoring and dishing out 6 assists per game. Whereas A Lebron James was like a mentor in 2014 for Cherry, now is he like a mentor for a guy like Hubb? ‘I am kind of like a mentor to him as well as Jhonathan Dunn. I try to teach them to be better pro’s. I tell Prentiss all the time don’t take anything too lightly with what he is doing. What he is doing in the BBL isn’t easy. I tell him to keep doing his thing. Sometimes he get’s a little to loose with the ball, but he is very smart and can still refocus’, stated Will Cherry. In the second quarter the Fraport Skyliners heightened their game scoring 22 points and made some adjustments on defense to lead 43-39 at the break. It hasn’t been easy for the Tez friend to witness the Skyliner’s reduced role and that he has played center this season. ‘We couldn’t get stops on defense and hung our heads on defense. Ludwigsburg’s staple is our defense and we didn’t play defense. Frankfurt got more comfortable and made shots thus raising their self confidence. We didn’t play good 1-1 defense and couldn’t keep our guy in front of us. It has been very strange seeing Tez have a reduced role and play some center. He might be older and have lost a step, but the man is still very smart and still has enough gas to help Frankfurt in so many areas of the game’, warned Will Cherry.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Will Cherry in Frankfurt in 2021
The turning point of the game arrived in the third quarter where the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg exploded for 33 points, but still only led by 7 points 72-65 after 30 minutes. Despite the scoring onslaught Ludwigsburg still allowed enough points to allow Frankfurt to hang around. ‘We didn’t really make too many adjustments. We had more focus and just had the attitude of man up. We wanted to reestablish who we are and have our identity back especially on defense. We got stops and as a result were able to get on transition and get easy baskets’, commented Will Cherry. One player that was key in the scoring spree was undersized power forward and ex Western Kentucky University (NCAA) player Justin Johnson who showed he can be a walking bucket. ‘He really got going and established himself as a big threat. I appreciate his high IQ the most in his game. He really knows how to play the game. Whenever we talk about the game we are always on the same page. He had a tough path after his suspension, but I was really happy for his big game against Frankfurt. That was a big step for him. When we he plays like that then it is really hard to beat us’, stressed Will Cherry. In the fourth quarter, the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg didn’t waste any time slamming the back door shut on the Fraport Skyliners marching on a 12-0 run and deciding the game. ‘We knew that we have allowed teams to come back in previous games in the fourth quarter so we came right at Frankfurt and hit them in the mouth. We didn’t want to leave any doubt that we could lose this game. We did a good job playing the defense the way we know how, getting rebounds and getting easy baskets. They did a good job with taking advantage of match ups early in the game playing small ball, but that didn’t happen in the fourth quarter’, stated Will Cherry. Another player that was key in the win and in many others this season was ex Division2 player Jhonathan Dunn of South Nazarene. He is one of 100’s of great guards playing in Europe right now that had to start in lower leagues as he balled in Holland last season. Cherry is totally enthused by this guys stellar play. ‘When you can shoot the ball the way he can, it doesn’t matter what league you came from. Coach does a good job drawing up plays for to help him get going. The way he can shoot the ball is second to none. He has a crazy clip. People make a million dollars a season the way he shoots the ball. The BBL is just the first step for him. He will make it to higher leagues and make a name for himself’; warned Will Cherry.
The ex University of Montana great is playing his third season in Germany. When you’re a 10 year vet, you tend to be more selective in your choices. He skipped training camp in August and elected to stay at home to work out and found the right opportunity in December with the MHP Riesen and is content of having made the right choice ‘I just didn’t find the right situation earlier in the season. I felt like my representation at the time weren’t doing their job. For me it was better to wait instead of taking something I didn’t want. I have always said I’m only coming overseas if it is worth my time. Ludwigsburg has been different, but a good different. I didn’t know what to expect, but I really like it. It has been a little adjustment getting used to the defensive principles, but I see why this club has been a top 4 team the last years. It is a good run organization and I understand why players have gone on to bigger and better things’, stressed Will Cherry. He began slowly in Frankfurt last season and it isn’t any different in Ludwigsburg. His playmaking is top as he is averaging 6,0 apg and is averaging 1,6spg. It is his scoring that’s down at 8,0ppg and his three point shooting is only at 19%. But just like he told me 15 months ago in Frankfurt, he isn’t worried about his offensive game. ‘My scoring will come, because it is what I do. I’m still trying to find my offensive rhythm. My defense and running the team will always come naturally to me. Once I find my offensive rhythm, we will be so much better. I just need to learn to pick my spots in this offensive system. I know I don’t have to score as much as I did with the Fraport Skyliners. I have only played 6 games. It needs time’, stressed Will Cherry. He is confident that his playmaking will profit with so much offensive power. ‘We have a lot of weapons. I didn’t score at a big clip against Frankfurt, but I still impacted the game in other ways. I got guys in good scoring situations by manipulating Frankfurt’s defense. I tell my teammates all the time just to run with me and I will get them open shots’, warned Will Cherry.
Lebron James getting on the team bus in Boston in November 2021
But back to Lebron James. He is only 36 points away from becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and passing Mr Sky hook Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The question is will he reach it against the Oklahoma Thunder or Milwaukee Bucks? Will Cherry might only have been teammates with Lebron James for a short time, but technically he helped Lebron just a tad to reaching this incredible record. Cherry’s humbleness to this question is overwhelming. ‘I don’t know about that. Lebron had the ball in his hands a lot. I’m just so thankful that I could witness greatness at the age of 23 and be able to see a top 5 player of all-time play. I had a front row seat. What he has done in his career is unreal. I love to watch him play’, added Will Cherry. I personally feel guys like Bill Russell and Larry Bird deserve more praise in the GOAT debate but for the longest time everyone is focused about the Jordan-Lebron GOAT debate. So will Lebron be the GOAT after he becomes the NBA all-time leading scorer? ‘For me it will always be Michael Jordan. This new Lebron record is a longevity record. Jordan didn’t come to the NBA at age 18 or play 20 years. Of course this is an incredible feat for Lebron. Lebron has been fortunate playing in an era where science had a big impact of how you could take care of your body. Jordan is the Goat because he made the NBA global and took it to another level. Jordan helped the NBA take off after the Bird and magic era. Plus Jordan went 6/6 in finals’, stressed Will Cherry. One thing is for sure, Will Cherry will always have to answer Lebron James questions. And that won’t get any less after he dethrones Kareem. Will Cherry will always be connected to Lebron James in some way.