Daniel Theis admits that he is still adjusting slightly to life in the NBA following eight years in the German League, with the last three of those being in the EuroLeague. But one thing he is used to is being part of a team that is at the top of the table.
Theis won titles with Brose Bamberg last season and in his career has captured five championships in Germany, including being a four-time All-Star to add to his many accomplishments.
But the 25-year-old knew that life in the NBA would be different, especially playing for the Boston Celtics. But, as he brushes shoulders with NBA champion Kyrie Irving, This has held his own as a Celtic, averaging 4.5 points and 4.0 rebounds a game, while shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Theis and the Celtics head to London for the annual NBA Global Games, where they take on the Philadelphia 76ers at the O2 Arena next Thursday (January 11). The big German caught up with the global media during a conference call to talk about a variety of subjects.
Q: How does it feel being one of the fans’ favourite players in Boston, and did you expect to play such a role? And the second one is are there any personal teasing with other German NBA players because you are the only one playing on a team at the top of the league?
DANIEL THEIS: First off, I would say the Boston fans are special anyway, so every game is sold out. Every play I get, it’s loud from the fans for me. I mean, I should say some fans. It’s an honour for me, for sure. I just try to play like I’ve played the last years, bring energy. And the second one, for the other German players, now in Chicago they’ve made a run. They’re getting better. They have played the last year on the highest level. [Chicago’s Paul Zipser] played a lot of games. So I hope all the other German players and teams they play for, they’re going to get better this season.
Q: You’ve excelled in your role coming off the bench now for years. Can you explain why this role suits you so well? And can you tell us how many friends and family will come over to the London game from home?
DANIEL THEIS: I don’t mind starting or coming off the bench for the game. Like I said, I’ve been doing this in Bamberg for years. I just try to bring energy, play defence when I step on the court. For me, it doesn’t matter if I start the game, come off the bench or whatever, so whenever the team needs me, I try to be ready. I’ve got my brother coming with his girlfriend to London.
My wife is coming from Boston to London. And I’ve got some friends or people I know that play in London, like all around London, soccer, they’re coming to the game, too.
Q: Do you ever see a situation where there is a permanent franchise in Europe, whether it be Germany, London? Do you think, from a playing point of view, that would be an attractive proposition?
DANIEL THEIS: I think it would work, but we’ll see how it goes in London. I think London is a good place to play also for NBA teams and franchises, for sure.
Q: I would like to ask you one thing about the schedule because everybody talks about how tough it is for a rookie playing in the NBA with 82 games per season. But in your league last season, you almost played the same type of games, and in Europe, facilities aren’t as good as the NBA. Maybe it’s easier now for you than it was last season, or is it one opinion?
DANIEL THEIS: We played almost 70 games last year with Bamberg with the EuroLeague, but we had the chance to rest a lot of players in the German league, too. With the NBA’s schedule, the games are like back to back.
We’ve played 40 games right now, and the season is two months old. Especially our schedule was really tough because we only played two games right now the whole season with two days in between. I think that’s the part that makes it harder than in Europe because in Europe, with EuroLeague, you have Monday to Wednesday for practice or preparing, and then you know you play maybe Thursday, Saturday, like two games a week. And right now with the NBA schedule, we play like four to five games a week.
Q: Obviously you began wearing the protective mask due to an unfortunate injury. Are you now starting to get used to the mask, and are you going to miss it when it’s gone?
DANIEL THEIS: Since I got the second one, the fitted one, it’s way better so I can see more. But [I think] it’s gone for the London game. I’m not going to miss it.
Q: How different is the NBA’s playing style from the playing style in Europe? And how much did you have to adjust to playing as big of a role as you are playing now with Boston?
DANIEL THEIS: I would say the NBA game is a little bit — it’s faster, more athletic than Euro, and also offensively you take open shots. Even if it’s the first pass, you take it if the open shot is a good shot. In Europe, we used to play in Bamberg, you run through the system, you make the defence run, so you are a little bit more patient.