Mubarak Salami(Dragons Rhondorf) Was A Great Scorer That Had A Very Special Heart

Mubarak Salami after dropping 25 points in the big comeback win over the BSW Sixers Feb 18, 2023

Over the last years I have had the habit of liking to talk often to the same player after games from the home team. In Frankfurt I like to rap with Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson simply because he tells it how it is. In Rhondorf a few years ago I liked talking to Curtis Hollis and since last season, it had been captain Paul Albrecht. He is a guy who is always in a good mood win or lose and can be funny also. But he recently got hurt, and I had to find someone else. The first game after Albrecht was out, I had a lengthy chat with American Devon Goodman. I do prefer Americans, but after the Dragons Rhondorf last home game where they came from behind to win 97-90 against the BSW Sixers, I asked head coach Julius Thomas to get Mubarak Salami (198-SG-1996). I had interviewed him before last season via email, but never often face to face. Last season, I met him for the first time and right away found him to be a friendly guy. He recently had come from Pro B north team Wolmirstedt to help the Dragons Rhondorf slim rotation for the stretch run. I remember greeting him at his first Dragons game for him against Iserlohn and that warm smile hit me. Last weekend against the Sixers the German had just had his break out game with the Dragons scoring 25 points and being an instrumental player along with Goodman in the win. He gave great insight to the win in my post game interview. When I was done, I thanked him for his time and said ‘see you at the next game’. Unfortunately that would be my last encounter with him. Mubarak Salami tragically died on Feb 24th in a brutal car accident near Hannover, Germany. I found out at 10:30 pm Saturday night and was in total shock. It was so sad. I’feel so sorry for his mother and siblings.

The scoring ace who has Nigerian, Ghana, Swedish and German roots was a guy that had seen many different basketball places, but mostly in the north of Germany near his home base Hamburg. He began his basketball career at TSG Bergedorf and played with the Sharks Hamburg U-19 team. He was discovered by Suekran Gencay who pretty much steered him in the right direction when he needed it most. ‘Suekran helped me to take basketball seriously, to see it from a different perspective and to show me what potential I have. I grew up in a rather bad environment, didn’t trust anyone, used to be very wild and messed up a lot. Suekran had a hard time with me, but over the years I’ve learned to express my emotions with basketball and to put my strength into it’, expressed Mubarak Salami in 2022. In the following years he got experience playing with Regionalliga teams like VFL Stade, Basketball Club Rendsburg and The TSV Neustadt Temps. Early in his career he also had the privilege to play for Pat Elzie and the Itzehoe Eagles. ‘Pat Elzie is an incredible coach. It was my first time getting to know organized basketball and Pat taught me an incredible amount in a short time. I am very grateful to him for that’, stressed Mubarak Salami in 2022. He really blossomed the last 2 years totally exploding with the Eimsbuetteler TV Hamburg (ProB) leading the Pro B in scoring with 26,0ppg and 28,0ppg under the guidance of Sukran Gencay. I and very many people always wondered why was this exceptional player not playing in higher leagues? He was simply way to good for the Pro B.

The walking bucket who had role models like Dirk Nowitzki, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant of course was on the radar of numerous teams in the Pro A and had offers from easyCredit BBL teams. But he chose a very big and noble role over being a possible bench player in the BBL. Having 2 or 3 siblings can be a difficult task to handle for a mother and father, but what about 6 siblings? That is an unbelievable high number and above the norm. Imagine having to be the perfect single parent? His mother was a single parent and he chose family over his own career. He became the father figure running the house hold for years and being there for his kids at school functions. This makes his death even more tragic as the big brother leaves 6 younger siblings all who adored him. There are some heart warming videos on his Instagram page showing how much his siblings loved him. After sacrificing the game for years to help his mom raise his siblings, he decided to continue to go on his mission to climb the basketball ladder and moved away from Hamburg. But that decision was only made when he 100% knew that he could leave the family. His siblings were growing older and he was confident that one of his siblings could take over his role and help mother with younger kids.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Mubarak Salami in the Dragon Dome in 2022

It was time to show the basketball Germany that he could help winning clubs win and not just score 40 points on any given night for a losing team. He began in Wolmirstedt where he averaged 14.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.4apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 63.8%, 3FGP: 16.7%, FT: 65.2% and helped post a 5-3 record. He then moved to Rhondorf in Jan 2023 where he averaged 13,0ppg, 4,0rpg, 2,2 apg and 1,4spg. In both places he proved that he isn’t an ego player something some felt he was because of his high scoring and many shots he took for other clubs. But that wasn’t the case at all. When he played for losing teams, he was the best on the club and his teammates relied on him taking full responsibility. This season in Wolmirstedt and Rhondorf he demonstrated that he can take a back seat for the good of the team. He showed in both places that he has a knack for knowing when to score and when to facilitate. He was especially motivated to become the best passer that he could studying the passing of guys like Luka Doncic, James Harden and Lebron James. He had his best game of the season in his last game against the BSW Sixers where he helped stage an incredible comeback producing 25 points and hitting 3/5 three pointers an area he wasn’t known for striving in. He shot 37% with the Dragons the highest ever in his career and seemed to be adjusting well to the team and to his game in his new environment. It would have been so interesting to see where the Dragons Rhondorf would have landed with Mubarak Salami in 2022-2023. But unfortunately we will never know.

I will always have fond memories of him. He left a lasting impression on everybody. ‘I’m very shocked and saddened to hear about the death of Mubarak. I talked to him before the season and recruited him to come to Koblenz, but we couldn’t come to an agreement. We always stayed in touch with each other over all these years. He was a huge talent and a very nice young man. My prayers go out to his family and friends. Rest in peace Mubi. God bless’, stated EPG Baskets head coach Pat Elzie. I remember knowing of him the last years, but had never seen him play live. Last season I was so excited to finally see him play for the first time in Rhondorf. We did an interview a few days before the game and he gave me great information about his game and career for my telecast. He and Eimsbuettel had no chance in Rhondorf losing 116-74, but he produced 33/7/6 stats. In January 2023 I was so happy when he signed with the Dragons Rhondorf. Now I could finally see him more. I will never forget seeing him again in the Dragon Dome in his first game against Iserlohn. He gave me that warm smile that was so infectious and something his siblings will only remember in their thoughts. He was a guy that profited from his penetration. There was a reason why I nicknamed him Mr Drive in the last games whenever he scored a bucket. He had a secret to why he was so successful to being able to score in traffic and just be unstoppable. ‘I mainly developed my scoring moves through instincts while gambling. And when I realized how good I can actually be, I worked a lot on these moves and developed them further. This resulted in some unconventional moves that are not easy to defend’, warned Mubarak Salami in 2022. I interviewed him after the big win against the BSW Sixers and will forever remember my last encounter with him. He was a good guy with a real good heart. We will forever miss his breathtaking drives to the hole, but moreover miss the person Mubarak Salami the most. I would like to send my condolences to the Salami family. R.I.P. Mubarak Salami.


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