Michael Thompson is a 27 year old 177cm point guard from Chicago, Illinois that is playing his sixth professional season and first with Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). He played at Northwestern from 2007-2011. In his senior year, he played 34 games: 16.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 82.5%. He turned professional in 2011 with the Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-1.Bundesliga) in 2011 and palyed EuroCup: 6 games: 7.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 34.8%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 83.3%; German League: 27 games: 8.5ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 44.4%, FT: 76.1%. In the 2012-2013 season he played for ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket (France-ProA) playing 35 games: 10.4ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 84.8%. In the 2013-2014 season he played for Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA) playing 30 games: 11.6ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 40.5%, 3PT: 45.5%, FT-3(93.8%). In the 2014-2015 season he played for SPO Rouen Basket (France-ProA) playing 33 games: 13.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 4.2apg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 86.1%. Last season he played for Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA) playing 36 games: Score-1(17.9ppg), 2.1rpg, 5.1apg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 38.4%, FT: 89.9%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Champions League game against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
Mike thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are playing your first season in Turkey with Besiktas. How refreshing is it having such normal warmer temperatures at this time of the year? Something you never witnessed in Chicago, Germany or France the last years?
Thanks for having me. It’s very refreshing to have had such wonderful weather, but it is starting to get cold. Last year in Pau, France the weather was warm for the majority of the season.
You are back in Germany preparing to play the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. How excited are you to be playing against your ex teammate Drew Craford. How strange will it be playing against him now five years after you left Northwestern?
I’m very excited to be playing against Drew! We workout together in the summer and I really enjoyed playing with him during our time at Northwestern. It will be a weird playing against each other for the first time, but we are very competitive so we both want to play well and win the game.
Congrats on a very strong start in Turkey as Besiktas is 6-0 in the Champions League and in the top 4 teams in the BSL league. What do you feel has been the main reasons for that has seven new imports?
The team has worked hard all season long and the chemistry we have is very good. We have a talented team and we all compliment each other well.
Besiktas is 6-0 in the Champions League and last week I spoke to Michael Dixon of AEK Athens and he stated that your group is among the toughest this season. What has been the biggest challenge for you playing in both leagues this season?
The hardest part for me has been the traveling and adjusting to playing twice a week. I haven’t played twice a week since my first season when I played in Germany.
After three very solid seasons in France, you last season had your breakout season in that country with Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA). You led the league in scoring and averaged 5,1apg. What do you feel was key for you having this type of season?
Last season in Pau, I played with a great team and the coaching staff had a lot of confidence in me and ran a lot of plays through me and for me so I was able to have a solid season and play in the playoffs!
Do you personally feel a little pressure from yourself this season needing to live up to what you did last seasons just in terms of your competitive nature to always want to get better?
As an athlete you always want to get better and compete at a high level. I don’t feel pressure to live up to last years expectations, I’m playing for an amazing team and we have a good record so I’m focusing on my role and doing all I can to help us continue to get better and win games.
After having such a great season last season, what do you feel do you need to do on the court to be successful this season in taking that next step?
I have to continue to work hard and play my game. I’m learning new things playing in the Turkish league for the first time and the coaching staff has been helping a lot with the transition.
This season´s teams has serious talent with guys like Earl Clark, DJ Strawberry and Michael Roll. How do you feel has just their presence had an effect on your mindset and overall game?
Playing with great players like them makes things easier, they are talented and have a lot of experience so it’s never an issue to ask them questions and take advice from them. It has been a lot of fun playing with and learning things from them.
You are playing your fifth season since you were a rookie with Frankfurt. It seems like it was just yesterday when you were a rookie with the Fraport Skyliners. Has time flown by for you as it has for me?
Time has definitely flew by since my rookie season playing for the Fraport Skyliners.
You were back with Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA) after having played there in the 2013-2014 season. It isn´t often a player leaves a club and after a season returns back. Did you have a special reason for returning back?
I returned to Pau after a season away because I played for the new coach they signed and I knew his coaching style and the fact that he would give me a lot of freedom on the court led me to returning to Pau.
You have improved your scoring and assists average each season in France. Do you credit that more to hard work or just getting into better situations with teams as you have moved on?
I credit it to hard work, and understanding the game better. Each year I feel I have improved and learned new things about the game of basketball.
You scored 41 points in a 108-104 win against Nancy. Did you feel like a mini Steph Curry offense wise?
No I didn’t feel like Steph Curry, but I did feel good that game. I was more happy about the fact that we won the game after 2 overtimes, That was a big win for our team and it somewhat turned our season around.
What do you feel has improved the most in your game in the last four years in France?
My knowledge and understanding of the game
How much easier did a Steve Smith make your job when he is on the wing and playing inside?
Steve Smith makes the game a lot easier, he can do some many things and the defense has to focus on him so that freed up a lot of things for me, and when he had the ball he delivered a lot of buckets for our team.
What goals do you still have as a professional and how much further can you still develop?
I want to continue to improve and of course win championships. Winning championships has been my goal and I’m working towards that everyday.
What do you miss most about the game of Quantez Robertson? How did he make you a better defensive player as a rookie?
I miss his athleticism it was a lot of fun to watch him go coast to coast in practice and games. Defensively his hard work and desire was unreal and he was a lot of fun to watch and play with.
With what Fraport Skyliner do you still have the most contact with?
Jimmy “J Roc” McKinney
Ok Mike. Where were you and exactly what did you do when the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series recently?
I was in Istanbul, Turkey at home sleeping when the Cubs won the World Series.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
In no particular order Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
Lebron is top 3 players of all time in my opinion
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
Top 5 power forwards to ever play the game
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Mike for the chat.