Monday, December 13, 2010

Exclusive Q&A with Nigerian forward-center Julius Nwosu. "My best time was when I played in Russia for CSKA Moscow. Had lot of fun and we never lost a game at home in the entire season"

Julius Nwosu embodies perfectly the philosophy of Basketball Telegraph. He was born (May 1, 1971) and raised in Nigeria, played college ball at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, then played in the NBA (San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics) before travelling all over the world to do what he liked best. In his pro career the Nigerian forward (6-8, 255 lbs) played in almost 20 different Countries and more than 20 different Leagues: he won the Russian League in 1996 with CSKA Moscow and the French League in 2001 with Pau-Orthez and played with european powerhouses Panathinaikos Athens (Greece) and Galatasaray (Turkey). Julius talked to BT analyst Dr FingerRoll about growing up in Nigeria, falling in love with the game as a teenager and about his best pro season of his long career.
Julius, you were born and raised in Nigeria. Can you tell us how you fell in love with the game of basketball?

Growing up in Nigeria was a great experience, if not the best. Being a kid in Nigeria, we knew so much and heard so much about the Western Countries and USA was considered the best.  So often people described USA as a unimaginable place, and it seemed like they were the best in everything, when we used to see them in the Olympics they would blow everyone out, they looked cool. The blacks were more interesting to us, even though the whites were more respected. As youngsters, we played every sports we could as long as it was available to us, but in basketball seemed like everyone had some kind of tie to USA, they were so cool, the style of the game was pure chemistry and graceful. It was the most exciting thing I have ever seen as a kid.
Then the stories that came with the game, the way people told them, stories about Dr J, Micheal Jordan for instance, then we had the chance to watch a few NCAA games that a guy brought back from USA and we saw our very own Akeem Olajuwon, Houston vs Georgetown, and that sealed the deal for me that I must go to the States, and play in college there.

After attending HS in Nigeria, you crossed the Ocean to study and play at Liberty University. How did it happen that you went to the US? And was it difficult to adapt to a new life both on and off the court?

I came to USA through a missionary from my church, that was why I landed at the world most exciting christian University, the Liberty University.
The adaptation was easy, I was finally in the USA doing what I loved. On the court I quickly realized that I was too far behind basketball skill-wise, whereas athletically I was right on point and maybe ahead of almost everyone, so when I made a mistake on one side of the court,  I would make it up on the other side because I was so athletic.
Life was good, I was in a christian school,  so it was a controlled life with lots of rules and regulation, that helped keep us grounded.

Like we said before, you played in so many different places, from Europe to Asia, North and South America, Middle East and, of course, Africa with your NT. If you had the chance to travel back in time for a season, where would you go and play.

My best time was when I played in Russia for CSKA. It was fun - although it was very cold! - because my team was so good we could have given NBA teams a good run for their money: we were so good we spent time playing soccer, not even practicing basketball. We were undefeated in Russian League, and undefeated in European League's home games. We never lost a game in Moscow in the entire season!

Julius, you will turn 40 next year. What are the plans for your future?

Yes, you are right. I am gonna be 40 soon. Well, maybe I have to take a shot of vodka or whisky, a glass of beer, some kind of alcohol for the first time in my life. To tell you the truth, I have not thought of much to do.

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