By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After spending the entirety of his career in the NBA and registering no less than 659 games over a span of nine years, Greg Monroe embarked on his maiden overseas campaign last summer, when he signed with reigning German BBL League champion Bayern Munich. The Bavarian team made some serious transfer buzz with this signing, one year after bringing former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams on board.
Monroe’s offensive skillset at the post has translated rather well in the uncharted and many times unfriendly for newcomers, European basketball territory. So far, the American big man has been leading Bayern in points (12.4), rebounds (6.4) and blocks (0.9) in EuroLeague while producing 12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in the BBL. Bayern is dominating the latter with an undefeated 14-0 run and, as of now, looks the favorite for the threepeat.
EuroLeague competition has been a different – and quite hostile – animal for Bayern this season since by Round 19, the team is in a four-way tie on the bottom of the standings, with a 6-14 record. In between the Round 19 and Round 20 games of the German side in Greece against Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiacos Piraeus, Monroe met with Eurohoops for a sitdown interview revolving around his first-time EuroLeague experience, the NBA and a certain former teammate of him who landed MVP in the league last season.
– How did the deal with Bayern Munich happen?
“After a while trying to explore options back in the NBA, it became pretty clear that I had to try and find something here. And first, clearly, I wanted to be in the EuroLeague.
It was the best league you can probably find outside of the NBA. The competition has definitely lived up to that. Playing against these teams and those players.
I kind of came in late to Bayern Munich. The team was the best situation for me. Just coming into a team where I think my skill set would help”.
– Was China an option?
“Personally, I definitely preferred to be in the EuroLeague. My first destination was definitely to find a team in the EuroLeague”.
– Did you have any offers by NBA clubs?
“No. Back at that time, I didn’t. That’s why I’m here. My first destination was to play in EuroLeague before trying to figure out anything else.”
– How does a nine-year NBA veteran – one who has averaged your numbers (13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds over 632 regular-season games) – feel when the offseason comes and there’s no offer by any team in the league?
“You feel like you’ve put yourself in a position to stay on the team. But it’s just not how it went. That’s how basketball is around the world. This is how it’s in basketball leagues everywhere. Obviously, you try and you try to stay in the NBA. But when the opportunity doesn’t present itself you find other destinations. I’m happy to be here in the EuroLeague. It’s been very competitive. It’s more than 450 players in the NBA and there are more than 450 great players in the world. I feel like here I’m competing against other great players still. Guys that I competed against before. New players that I hadn’t competed against before but are still great players. So the competition has been up to par with what I believed. It’s been fun.”