Dhe game behind the scenes of the best basketball league in the world is almost as elementary as that under the baskets. Especially for the young players without a celebrity bonus. Because whether they make it into the squad of the NBA team or are assigned to the junior group called the G-League can influence the direction of an entire career. This decision does not necessarily depend on the shape of the player.
The shaky candidates of the North American professional league NBA often have one thing in common: the deadlines and liabilities in their contracts. When Isaiah Hartenstein signed with the Houston Rockets a year and a half ago, he must have known that the crucial clause was not about payment, despite the tempting prospect of grossing several million dollars over three years. After all, the reservation that the team owners had wrestled during the recent collective bargaining negotiations between the players’ union still hovered: that such a contract can be canceled in between.
The news that the 21-year-old German received a few days ago sounded all the better: When considering their rather expensive squad, in which stars like James Harden and Russell Westbrook earn 20 times Hartenstein, the management of the Rockets had someone else Passport given. It was a good thing that the 2.13-meter center got plenty of operational time on Saturday night. Because he demonstrated his qualities under the basket in the away encounter at the Minnesota Timberwolves not only with fifteen rebounds. He also contributed a remarkable 17 points to the 139: 109 success of his team and was therefore praised not only by Harden and Westbrook, but also by coach Mike D’Antoni: “He knows how to play. And he has energy, ”said the coach, who consistently lets his philosophy of an aggressive high-speed basketball be practiced at the Rockets. Success in such a system requires a short reaction time, an overview and a seventh sense for the rapid development of moves. “It’s hard to teach people things like that,” says D’Antoni: “He just does them.”
However, this only matters if Hartenstein is on the floor from the start. And that only happens if the Swiss parent center Clint Capela is injured. So far, this has rarely happened. After all, Hartenstein has surpassed the second Center Tyson Chandler, which has been pinging through the NBA for many years, in the team’s internal ranking. On the way up, the international took an interesting path. In 2016, this included a detour to the Lithuanian basketball stronghold of Kaunas, combined with appearances in the Euroleague.
In 2017, after being drafted from Houston to 43rd place in June of the year, he decided to move to the United States and signed a tight deal with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ farm team in the G-League. The move was successful: a year later he got a place in D’Antoni’s expanded squad.
Until then, Hartenstein was an issue mainly because of its origin. For example, when the website “The Undefeated”, which mainly deals with the living and working conditions of black athletes in America, spread its family history. There is a mix of skin colors and nationalities from German and American ancestors. “When you see my basketball game, you notice it a little,” said the junior at the time. “That’s okay. I am half black, which you can not tell from the tone of my skin. But when you see my father, you say, ‘All right. Roger that’.”
The father – that’s Florian Hartenstein, once a Bundesliga player and until late November 2019 coach of the Artland Dragons in the ProA. He had played basketball at high school in college in Oregon and met Theresa there. The two married and had Isaiah in 1998. When he was little, he had no interest in soft toys, the mother found. “He always had a ball. I tried to interest him in football. But that was too dirty for him. “
Isaiah spent the first years of her life with Theresa in America before the family decided to follow Florian and his professional ambitions to Germany. The junior hardly spoke any German at the time and at first had a hard time moving. Fortunately, basketball served as a vanishing point and projection surface. His talent and his zeal for training finally enabled him to get involved in big dreams. “You can’t expect more,” said the father a while ago. “He has invested a lot of work. He missed a lot of parties because he trained six hours a day to work on himself. ”The work continues. Which is why the number 55 of the Rockets was not impressed by the hymns of praise. “That’s why I train so much and watch so many games.” The next goal: to renew the current contract after the season ended in June.