In an interview with SPOX, the German national player Johannes Thiemann from Alba Berlin talks about the lack of attention in basketball, the upcoming European Championships and the time after his professional career.
In addition, Thiemann reveals why he is already thinking at the end of his career at the age of 28.
Mr. Thiemann, the eternal Rickey Paulding ended his career in Oldenburg this season at the age of 39. As a 28-year-old, you are still relatively young in comparison. Do you still think about the time after professional sports?
Johannes Thiemann: First of all, incredible respect to Rickey for having played at the level for so long. But yes, in basketball you are in a way forced to think about the aftermath. The salaries are different than in, for example, football. Therefore, you need to think about what comes after your career.
You are currently also studying occupational psychology.
Thiemann: I agree. I started my studies two years ago. It is certainly smart to prepare for the career after the game. But it is not easy to study next to basketball. Especially with the number of games we have.
Last season there were 32 matches in the EuroLeague, 45 in the Bundesliga and 5 more in the trophy. It gives 82 games.
Thiemann: Therefore, the current course is only part-time and when the schedule allows. Basketball is my top priority. I have to play for another seven or eight years, and if I can get my bachelor’s degree, that would be great. I can really only take care of it next door. It must not affect my performance in basketball.
Your achievement is also associated with a great effort. Are you afraid of getting hurt if you dive for the ball?
Thiemann: No. With such thoughts, it would be hard to play normally. Injuries are part of the sport. It can always happen. As soon as you mentally try to avoid injury, you lose tension and that is what easily leads to injury. I always play concentrated and do not think about such a thing at all.
You became ill with Corona in January. Do you have existential fears?
Thiemann: Yes. There was a stage where I was more and more tired for three weeks and had some energy to perform. I thought about that, of course. It was a tough situation, but I knew I had to be the old JT again, and I just have to have patience.
Johannes Thiemann: “Basketball deserves more attention”
The playoffs now begin in the BBL, Bayern had Barca on the verge of elimination in the EuroLeague, but somehow everything is overshadowed by football. How are you feeling?
Thiemann: Basketball certainly deserves more media attention. It is a very attractive sport. Even people who come to a basketball hall for the very first time and know nothing about the sport are always excited after the game and come back again. More attention would certainly be warranted.
Your association ALBA BERLIN is trying to do something in this direction.
Thiemann: ALBA BERLIN does a great job. Especially in children and adolescents. The association is constantly present – also in socially disadvantaged areas – going to schools and trying to reach out to the broad masses of exercise programs. Basketball may appeal to people other than football, but it can provide structure and help.
In football, the summer transfer window is about to open. These are large sums. Envious?
Thiemann: No, I’m not jealous. Sometimes one has to leave the church in the village. As a basketball player, you do not make bad money. Especially in relation to other sports, basketball is already well positioned. It would just be nice if this relationship was settled in all other sports and it can only be done with more attention.
As a fan favorite, you are especially in focus.
Thiemann: I do my best to make the sport attractive. I encourage people to come to the matches, I am present on social media and would also like to reach out to people outside the basketball cosmos.
Thiemann: Short contracts are “like roulette”
You have been with Alba Berlin since 2018 and extended your contract until 2024 in the summer. Do you also love Berlin because of this security?
Thiemann: Such long contracts with a club are unusual, especially in basketball. It gives me a lot of security. ALBA is a great club that does a lot of things right. ALBA is so positive and that’s why I feel so comfortable here. I really like the city and its possibilities. There are few places that can keep up with Berlin.
However, shorter contracts of just one year can also motivate individual players to achieve top performance.
Thiemann: Done. But one can never predict how the season will go. It’s like playing a little roulette to see if the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Of course, the economic opportunities are not the same everywhere. But with shorter contracts, the uncertainty is greater.
What would be better?
Thiemann: With more continuity, it’s easier to build a team and push development. As with ALBA BERLIN. Longer contracts help both players – especially when they are young – and clubs. Of course, it’s not that easy, but I think other teams can learn from us here. Trust in the younger players often pays off.
What advice would you give to 18-year-old Johannes Thiemann from Baunach Pikes? Would you rather play football because you earn more?
Thiemann: (laughs) No, no. Like I said before, I’m super happy to play basketball at ALBA BERLIN. I would advise him to take more care of his body. Always stretch nicely so he can play for a long time.