Isaiah Hartenstein in the NBA: smart and flexible

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Written By Maya Cantina

German basketball player Isaiah Hartenstein has worked his way up. He is now a mainstay with the New York Knicks.

Center: Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers (l.) and Isaiah Hartenstein of New York.

Center: Joel Embiid of Philadelphia 76ers (l.) and Isaiah Hartenstein of New York Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

Florian Hartenstein was a tense player, responsible for blocks and rebounds. When he stepped to the free-throw line for Gießen of Quakenbrück, his teammates didn’t expect much; Sometimes the center player even maneuvered the ball towards the basket with just one hand – which didn’t really increase the hit rate.

His son should be different basketball can play: smoother and more flexible. And so one time, when Isaiah was just three years old, there was a rug in the Hartensteins’ living room that looked like a basketball court – and at the end was a plastic basket into which the little ones could stuff balls. “He had no chance,” Florian Hartenstein once said, “it had to come down to basketball.”

Today Isaiah Hartenstein, 2.10 meters tall, is in the starting lineup of the New York Knicks in the best basketball league in the world, the NBA. His team reached the second round of the playoffs, beating the Indiana Pacers 121-117 Monday night at Madison Square Garden; The score is 1-0 in the best-of-seven series. Hartenstein was on the floor for 36 minutes, scoring 13 points and even hitting a long shot from beyond the three-point line.

In New York he was responsible for the little things, the “IQ game,” he said, i.e. smart passing, the one smart block or the determined boxing under the basket. Although he mastered the entire repertoire of the game and enjoyed training as a winger, including with Zalgiris Kaunas, he has now returned to the, well, difficult game of his father, because that is what is currently required of him.

Flexible playing style

Isaiah Hartenstein has no problem meeting the more rustic demands of the team led by Jalen Brunson, on the contrary, he sees a career opportunity in the reactive adaptability of an NBA professional: “I can still score, but ultimately .” It is important what the team needs and I can adapt to that,” said Hartenstein. “I think that’s what a lot of players in the league can’t do. That’s why some drop out of the competition.”

It’s incredibly difficult to find your role in the NBA, and he wasn’t destined to take on such a crucial role. He was only ranked 43rd in the NBA and spent some time with the Houston Rockets’ farm team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

He seemed destined to spend at best a few minutes on the court as a backup center for the Denver Nuggets or the Los Angeles Clippers and compete for a new contract from year to year. But because Hartenstein’s priority has always been to advance in the NBA, which also explains his absence from the German World Cup team, the extraordinary has now happened: Hartenstein, who will earn more than $9 million this year as a so-called free agent, has made his breakthrough .

The Garden crowd loves him and his strange-looking floats, special one-handed throws (!) in the zone. In his previous NBA years he averaged 9 to 17 minutes of playing time, but now he can play well over 25 minutes. During this time he averaged 7.8 points.

His father, who still accompanies him, drives, cooks and sometimes coaches, lives above him in New York. Out of gratitude, his son has now given him a car – and of course, much more importantly – a grandchild. The boy is born in the summer. The prospect of offspring motivates him even more, Isaiah Hartenstein said recently on Jalen Brunson’s podcast also pointed out again that he was actually black, although no one would suspect that because of his light skin color.

Florian Hartenstein’s father, a so-called African American, was stationed in Germany as a soldier and fathered his son there with a German woman. Florian Hartenstein often had to explain that this light-skinned boy was his son; The size really left no doubt, he said, the mother had simply had the upper hand genetically.

He actually owes him everything, the son says about his father, who not only taught him lessons in Black History, especially about Martin Luther King, but also about the versatile game of basketball – and also about his awareness of racist undertones: When the president of the … The Lithuanian clubs Lietuvos Rytas, Gedvydas Vainauskas, further said that two blacks in the team were okay, but four or five were already in a gang. Isaiah Hartenstein also vigorously defended himself against the derailment. The Lithuanian had to resign.

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