Chris Wright is a 27 year old 203cm forward playing his second season in Europe and first with Maccabi Rishon in Israel. He started his basketball career in 2007 with Dayton(NCAA) where he played until 2011 and as a senior played 36 games averaging 13.2ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.8apg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 22.7%, FT: 60.0%. He started his professional career in 2011 with the Maine Red Claws (D-League, starting five): 4 games: 17.0ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.5bpg; in Dec.’11 moved to Golden State Warriors (NBA): 24 games: 2.9ppg, 1.9rpg, in Jan.’12 signed at Dakota Wizards (D-League, starting five): 9 games: 18.1ppg, 8.8rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, 2.1bpg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 54.5%. In the 2012-2013 season he played with the Maine Red Claws (D-League) playing 41 games: 18.1ppg, 8.9rpg, 2.0apg, 1.7spg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 65.6%. In the 2013-2014 season he played for the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA): 8 games: 6.0ppg, 2.5rpg, FGP: 61.8%, FT: 40.0%, also played at Maine Red Claws (D-League): 41 games: 19.8ppg, 8.1rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 27.2%, FT: 67.5%. Last season he played for PGE Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-TBL): 26 games: 7.5ppg, 3.1rpg, FGP: 64.5%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 52.5%; Eurocup: 5 games: 9.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 70.0%; Euroleague: 8 games: 8.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 65.1%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 75.0%. He spoke to German Hoops after the 91-75 game three loss against the Fraport Skyliners In Fiba Europe Cup play. .
Chris thanks for talking to German Hoops. A tough 91-75 loss against the Fraport Skyliners. How proud are you of the team and how they fought?
I am extremely proud of my team. Most people counted us out at the start of the season and hardly anyone expected us to reach the second round. We shocked a lot of people just how far we came and we gave Frankfurt their only loss in the Fiba Europe Cup. I don´t believe in moral victories and even if I was injured and other guys weren´t totally fit, I feel we still could of won.
Was the bench of Frankfurt and your absence the biggest key in the loss?
I think that anytime a team has sudden changes, it will be tough to adjust. When you have an injury, you have 11 other guys that can step up. Frankfurt has a solid bench and really stepped it up
Can the Fraport Skyliners win the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup?
I think Frankfurt could win, but honestly so could Enisey. That will be a good game. I know guys on that team like DJ Kennedy from high school and Tony Taylor from last season and college. They are solid all across the board. Enisey is playing very well at the moment.
Last season you played against FC Bayern Munich posting a 1-1 record with polish team PGE Turow. Was that your first time in Germany and what is your impression of it´s basketball and country?
Last season was my first time in Europe and Germany. Germany has a great level of basketball. FC Bayern Munich had very high caliber players then and even in the past with someone like Malcolm Delaney. Germany was a fun place to play.
Your playing your first season with Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion (Israel-Winner League). The club is holding it´s own with a 13-12 record. Maccabi Roshon Le Zion did lose both games to Maccabi Tel Aviv in very close fashion. What did the team learn from these two games that will help you should you meet again in the playoffs?
I think that if we were to meet them in the playoffs, we will have to make minor adjustments and just not be too overhyped. We have to understand that this could make or break us if we don´t win. We played them pretty close both times and this time we will have to defend one on one better.
You have been producing solid stats in the Israeli Winter league and Europe Cup. What has it been like playing for the system of head coach Sharon Drucker where you belong to the tallest players playing at power forward position?
Darryl Monroe and I joke about the small ball all the time. We play center with Rishon, but on other teams be playing the three and four. Small ball just happens to be our style and that works for us. We have smaller guys and we try to take advantage of the mismatches whenever possible. We like the system and will stick with it.
You have played with many big men in your career, but what has it been like playing with center Darryl Monroe who is actually shorter than you. How do you guys compliment each other best?
I played against Darryl when he was something like 500 pounds in college(Chris joking). Darryl works very hard and we might be the same age, but I and my teammates still look up to him. He is so humble and knows the game so well. He may not be the most flashy athletic guy, but he uses his smarts. On the court he is always helping everyone like talking us through defense on the fly. I have played with bigger names in the NBA, but playing with a guy like Darryl makes me more appreciative of the game. He isn´t only the best center in the Israeli Winner league, but the best American.
You are a very athletic forward that can fill up the stat sheet well, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
My jump shot. People just tend to think I can only play above the rim. I played the three in the NBA and even played a little two there. When I miss a jumper, right away I am told to stop that and get back to getting to the rim. I know I can get the job done shooting the jumper or even the three.
You are a spectacular high energy defender as well as dunker. What defensive player and dunker in the NBA past or present are guys that you have looked up to over time?
I watched Tony Allen a lot. Kobe doesn´t respect anyone, but he respected Tony Allen. Allen is the best for me. I try to mimic my defense after him.
Your teammate Shawn Dawson is a raw talent and in some ways still very much under the radar. How much potential does he have and does he have possible Euroleague game down the road?
I really feel like Shawn could be in the NBA one day. He is young and if he continues to develop, the sky is the limit for him. If he continues to spread his wings and learn the game more, I feel that he can do anything. If he finds the right situation down the road, I feel he could go the Euroleague or NBA route.
You are playing with your second head coach in Europe with Sharon Drucker who has been around and won big titles like the 2004 Uleb Cup with Hapoel Jersualem. How has the transition been for you in general from a lifelong time of American coaches to guys in Europe?
Coming to Europe was a total new situation for me. I struggled at the start with the language in Poland. Even if English was spoken in practice, there was still miscommunication. Playing for coach Drucker has been great. I don´t see anything as a struggle anymore, but now just as normal as if I was in the States.
Last season you played for PGE Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-TBL): 26 games: 7.5ppg, 3.1rpg, FGP: 64.5%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 52.5%; Eurocup: 5 games: 9.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 70.0%; Euroleague: 8 games: 8.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 65.1%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 75.0%. What kind of transition was it for you coming from playing 30 plus minutes in the NBA and D-league to getting your minutes shaved in Europe?
I definitely play less minutes here. I am more rested than normal playing in Europe. I was a little frustrated at first last season, but now I am adjusted. No matter what system I play for, I am the ultimate team player. Whatever coach wants me to do, I do. Sometimes if you have an issue with a coach, you want to prove them wrong, but I never have issues with a coach, because then you tend to be uncoachable.
In your first Euroleague game last season you lost to FC Barcelona 86-67 playing 12 minutes and seeing the goose egg. You played against top talent and ex NBA players something you had seen before, but how much of a learning experience was that game for you?
I still remember that game well. I got to Poland on a Monday night, had my first practice on Tuesday, flew to Barcelona on Wednesday and Thursday was the Euroleague game. I was so excited that I couldn´t sleep the night before, was up all night and then went to the shoot a round at 10 am without having any sleep. I got my feet wet in this game. I played a lot better in my next game even if we lost that as well.
Last season the first five months were hectic as you played NBA Summer League, was in training camp with the Milwaukee Bucks, and then you were a member of top Polish team PGE Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-TBL). I guess you wouldn’t have expected to have landed in Poland at the start of the summer?
I never expected it. That summer I had a good NBA Summer league and coach Larry Drew told me I would be on the team and fight for minutes. However then they made a coaching change and made trades and everything changed for me. Then I was suddenly on the outside looking in. I had a contract, but not as much security anymore as I thought. I knew that anything could happen now with guys getting injured or being waived. I wanted to be safe and see what the best opportunity was for me. I was frustrated at first going to Poland, but I knew that I had keep moving on.
After being away from the NBA for a while, you got a new chance with the Milwaukee Bucks. How do you think you had improved your game this second time around?
I improved my shooting. Coach Drew and Kidd had told me to keep doing what I do best and just continue doing it better than the others. I took that as a compliment and continued to keep working and improving.
On the weekends you played in the solid Polish league and in the middle of the week Euroleague which is the second best league in the world after the NBA. Now after playing some games in the Euroleague how much more skillful is the NBA? I mean is it so much more skillful? The NBA is fast paced while the Euroleague more structured with many great players as well?
When I played my first games in the Euroleague, I felt like I was in college again where the lane was packed and everyone on top of you. Obviously the players in the Euroleague are better and stronger than guys in the NCAA. The biggest difference is that guys in the Euroleague aren´t as athletic as in the NBA even though there are some athletic guys around. The NBA is more one on one while there is more team play in the Euroleague. However Michael, Lebron and the Spurs never won with one guy. You see more one on one during the season, but when playoffs come around, you see that fundamental team basketball more in the NBA.
As an NBA rookie in 2011-2012 you played 24 games for the Golden State Warriors. What was your wake up call to the NBA?
I joined the Golden State Warriors during the lockout. I had my first real NBA work out with the Warriors and it was a great workout and I knew that they had interest in me. I remember having a call where the Detroit Pistons would take me, but first I would have to play a season in Europe. I was young then and didn´t weigh every option. I didn´t take that offer, but opted to play in the D-league and the Warriors signed me then. My wake up call in the NBA was seeing my name on the roster, having my own NBA gear, looking for a place to live in Oakland. This was all so surreal for me. Just walking past the mirror with my uniform and seeing myself made it feel like a dream for me. I knew the NBA was for real having my locker next to Steph Curry
In your second season you played for the Maine Red Claws (D-League, starting five): 41 games: 18.1ppg, 8.9rpg, 2.0apg, 1.7spg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 65.6%. There your coach was Mike Taylor who is coaching the Polish national team. Have you seen a better motivator than him?
Coach Mike was so unique. You don´t find many guys like him around. He really was one of a kind. He is a players coach and very funny. He got you to work hard always, because you knew that he would fight for you.
How far is Taylor from getting that illustrious NBA coaching job?
He just needs to get into the right situation. He is a great coach and I can see him becoming an assistant in the NBA and working himself up. I know that if an NBA team gave him a chance that they wouldn´t be disappointed.
Your ex teammate at Maine Fab Melo played 5 games for the Boston Celtics that season, last season played in the D-league and now is playing for Paulistano/Unimed Sao Paolo (NBB). Are you surprised the way his career has gone? He is still young do you think he will fight his way back to the NBA one day?
Fab Melo is a unique player. He is in Brasil now and I feel that if he focuses on what he needs to do and works hard that he can get back to the NBA. You can´t teach him height. He has the ability to be the best center. Sometimes when you aren´t in a good situation, it is the best to go back to your roots and start over. I remember him as being a great teammate and person. I wish him the best.
You didn´t play NBA Summer League last summer. Is the NBA still an option for you?
The NBA is always an option for me. I want to keep working to get there. I always want to improve and if the situation is right, I will take it. I have been in the NBA and everyone knows what I can do. I don´t think that I necessarily need to play a month in the NBA Summer League. I will do what it takes to get back to the NBA
You had a 25 point, eight rebound game against the San Antonio Spurs in a losing cause. Knowing that does it still give you the self confidence that you can play with the NBA boys?
I feel I can always play in the NBA and at any level.
What is the main difference for a player that stays in the NBA and those that leave for Europe after 2-3 years and never return?
The timing and situation needs to be right and everything else is small. Only 4% of NBA players are super stars. The rest are guys that can knock down jumpers, play defense or have the ability to learn plays quickly. I feel that there are guys out there that can go away and figure out what they have to do better so they can come back. There have been numerous guys in Europe that came back like PJ Tucker, Danny Green or my ex teammate Brian Roberts. He played his first 5 seasons in Europe and then came to the NBA.
You played at Dayton from 2007-2011. What was your fondest memory your one season with Brian Roberts who had to play four seasons in Europe before making the jump to the NBA?
Brian was a comedian. When I was a freshman, he was a senior. When I came in, he really watched out for me. I remember him always picking me up for practice. He really helped me blossom as a freshman to the point where I became the most talked about freshman in the NCAA. He attracted so much attention on the court, but still allowed me to make an impact on the court.
How did Dayton head coach Brian Gregory prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He was an awesome coach. He kept it real with me no matter if it was right or wrong. He was like a father to me and never gave up on me ever. He always told me that I wasn´t fighting against everyone in the gym, but also against the 10,000 other guys in other gyms pursuing their dreams. He told me that I should ask myself everyday if I worked harder than everyone else that day.
Why do so many great players come from the State of Ohio and who would win a state basketball game Ohio or North Carolina?
It isn´t shocking to me that there are so many great players coming from Ohio. We breed athletes. Many schools find their talent in Ohio. Ohio would beat North Carolina.
At George Mason Darryl Monroe was known as the funny police as the joke was only funny when he laughed. Has there been a joke of you that he has approved of this season?
Most people are scared of Darryl when they see him, because he has that serious face, but he is a very funny guy. He likes my jokes.
Le Rison is on the beach. How is life for an American in Israel and what has been something that you learned about the culture there that you never expected?
I like Israel. Some of it reminds me of the States. What I don´t like is the tendency of people invading personal space. For example if you wait in line, people will just walk in front of you. Some people get in your face when in a conversation. They just don´t see that I need personal space. There are rude people, but also very nice people. I like the fans. They are very faithful. When they cheer for one team, they don´t like any other team.
Some of the older NBA players that played at different times are having a hard time giving Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors credit for their success saying they might not have had that success 20-30 years ago. Are these former players just jealous or why can´t they just give credit where it´s due?
I don´t believe that these NBA players from back then are jealous. Steph is an unbelievable pure shooter. I think that back then players would have stopped him by fouling him hard. Guys like Bill Laimbeer would of showed pride against guys running up the score and just fouled or hurt them. A technical then would be an ejection today. They had a different style then. I think Steph would have been good then, but not sure if he would have had the same level as today. Steph is a tough player, but the physicality was different then as it is today.
Recently ESPN made a top 100 greatest NBA players of alltime poll putting Lebron at #3 before legends Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and BIll Russell. Do you see that as being justified?
People see this ranking with the rings that players won. I think I am ok having Lebron at #3. Leborn can do the things that Larry Bird did by making players better and things with the ball that Magic Johnson did.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I saw Dead Pool. I want to see Batman vs Superman when I am back in Israel.
Thanks Chris for the Chat.