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BIG - Basketball in Deutschland
The MVP diary – Big John Bryant: The first snow, ping pong versus

The MVP diary – Big John Bryant: The first snow, ping pong versus "Benzito" and a leader named...

Big John Bryant talks about Thanksgiving, life in Munich, the loss in Berlin and playing ping pong versus Robin Benzing

Hi all Beko BBL and Bayern Munich fans,

it’s started to snow. It’s fun to see the first little bit of snow, but at the same time you know winter is starting and it’s going to be a lot darker and a lot more snow. So I’m not really excited about it, but that’s what happens when you live here. Living here in Germany also means Thanksgiving is different. This Thursday is Thanksgiving back in the States. It’s my fourth Thanksgiving here. We’re actually going to be on our way to Siena on Thanksgiving, but we’re going to try to have something on Monday after the MBC game. Being over here where it’s not a holiday that they celebrate is different. Back in the States, it’s one of the biggest celebrations we have, people getting together with family. Here you kind of look at your teammates who are going through the same thing and you get together and have a nice big dinner.

As far as holidays over here, the main difference I like is how the Christmas season is longer. There are the Christmas markets from the end of November for a whole month. I really like walking around the markets. I really enjoyed that in Ulm and I see they are setting that up now here too. I’m looking forward to it.

I am getting the hang of life in Munich. It is a lot crazier than Ulm, a lot more things going on. But that keeps it interesting. You always have something to do. There’s always a restaurant that guys go to try out. There are a lot more options. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it, it’s a great place to live. There is a café where all the guys go - Westend Café. They took us there early on in the season, and I’ve probably been there 10-15 times since then. I took my brother there and they have some great food, breakfast too, which is something we didn’t have in Ulm – a good breakfast restaurant. That’s one of my go-to places right now.

Since I last wrote, we have added Deon Thompson back into the team after his broken hand. It’s going to be a process because he’s getting more minutes at the center position now. He’s always played the power forward. He’s doing better and better each day. It’s something new and different for him, but having back him is huge. He’s an offensive rebounder, so athletic and gives us so much energy on the court.

We have also won two more Beko BBL games – against Tübingen and in Würzburg. Berlin was like a wake-up call for us. We didn’t play our best game there. They out-played us there and a lot of guys took that to heart. Coach just told us that we have to be better. Guys came back to practice that next week and were hungry again. Sometimes a loss like that can kick-start a team and get them back on track. And I think that’s what it did for us. Würzburg is a really tough place to play. Going in there and getting a win is a big deal, we had never won there before. That was a huge win for the team.

Istanbul though is an even tougher place to play. The fans are crazy. It’s a great atmosphere. Galatasaray have extremely talented guys. Carlos Arroyo is a true leader. We didn’t play anywhere close to our defensive intensity. We didn’t show our best. It wasn’t even a good level. And the result showed. Against Gora, that was just a bad game for us. The energy and the enthusiasm were not there. Everything seemed to be going wrong for us and they were hitting every shot. We weren’t hitting anything.

Moving back off the court, as you may have seen, there were two more One-on-Ones between Robin Benzing and I – ping pong and painting (check out the videos below). He’s definitely played more ping pong than I have. My difficulty is my backhand. I don’t have a backhand. If we played just forehand all day I could play with him. But my backhand is very, very weak at the moment. He just has more skill at ping poing, which comes from playing more. I’m a decent ping pong player for the amount of time I have played. But he messed around with the wrong guy in painting. Bob Ross is the man. Google him. I was thinking about doing some “happy little trees” but they were complaining about time, that I was taking too long. I told them, ‘You can’t rush art.’ I definitely destroyed him on that one. I’ve always been a little artistic, drawing things here and there. Painting isn’t my real strong suit, but I can put a little something together. In case you’re wondering, I just wanted to throw a little flair in there at the end and came up with “Benzito”. The nickname hasn’t stuck though. Maybe that will change.

Until next time, enjoy the games and the Christmas market season. All the best, John

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