With Ulm’s Per Günther, the Bundesliga has lost an excellent player and its rhetorical and intellectual figurehead.
The number is actually too round for a coincidence and yet it was certainly not planned like this: Per Günther will play exactly match number 500 in the basketball Bundesliga against Ludwigsburg on Thursday (19.00), and if his team does not win at home, then that is it will be his last at the same time. Ratiopharm Ulm is 0: 2 behind in the playoffs quarter-final series and the one who has lost three times is out of the championship race.
A lot is happening in these weeks and months for the last time in Per Günther’s life. After this season, he will end his career, which he announced before the start of the season. Other perennial favorites also stop: Rickey Paulding in Oldenburg e.g. or Alex King, who last wore the jersey from 6 p.m. Würzburg has worn and is even the record holder in the Bundesliga with 638 matches. The German loses with Paulding and King basketball no doubt good players and likeable people. With Per Günther, however, the Bundesliga also loses its face, its voice, its rhetorical and intellectual galleon figure.
Per Günther has something to say – and says it
Books could be filled with the sayings that the Ulm captain uttered during his 13 years in Ulm. Immediately after a defeat, still sweaty in the jersey and with a heart rate of around 200, he demanded at least maximum effort from his young teammates and quoted Madonna: “Young lovers do not know what they are doing, but they do it all night.” Or his answer to the question of why he has always been loyal to Ratiopharm Ulm and never switched to Bayern Munich, for example: “I do not want to go through Munich for a year just to maybe become German champion.” At the time, the journalist would never have dared to hope that this phrase would survive the authorization from the club that is usual for interviews in professional sports. But the statement stuck. At Ratiopharm Ulm and almost everywhere else, it was already known at the time that Per Günther always knew what he was saying and that he never allowed himself to be forbidden to speak. The basketball league has now also experienced this.
It was early summer 2020. Corona was one big topic, racism the other. Many athletes, especially in the United States, went on their knees in protest or took a different stance. At the time, the basketball league ruled their champion behind closed doors at Munich’s Audi Dome, and for some reason they came up with the idea of banning players from making political statements. She counted without Per Günther. He explicitly urged his professional colleagues on Twitter to take a stand despite the ban and promised them to pay the first 10,000 euros in fines.
The request can still be read on his account today. So this Per Günther can be relaxed and funny but also serious when needed. At any rate, the father of two often has an opinion on topics related to basketball and far beyond. He has never dispensed with an answer or resorted to empty terms.
Of course, that should not give the impression that Rickey Paulding is an excellent player and Per Günther is the league’s speaker. If the now 34-year-old and generously calculated 1.84-meter-tall Ulm captain had not also delivered plenty of performances, his statements would probably have been ignored. He scored 35 points against the Artland Dragons and hit six three-pointers against Oldenburg. That was all a couple of years ago, in the late autumn of his career, Günther fits without complaint into the role of complementary player at Ratiopharm Ulm. Nevertheless, he is the formative figure of his generation par excellence, the combination of basketball and personal class has made him that.
Per Günther moves to Hamburg
And what comes after the career, which of course should preferably not end with game number 500? For once, Per Günther only said what athletes tend to say in such situations. That he would like to spend a lot of time with his two sons and now it is his wife Leonie’s turn with his career. Apart from moving to Hamburg, he does not seem to have any concrete plans yet. What longtime observers could well imagine would be a job as a commentator on television. Anyone who liked Mehmet Scholl and his sometimes ugly but always entertaining jokes about football would really enjoy a Per Günther in basketball broadcasts.