Alex Acker: I don´t want to stop playing basketball now
You started your professional career in the NBA. What did it mean to you to have the opportunity to try the best league in the world? In which ways was the league different then that it is now?
The year I got drafted my life changed immediately. I was excited, but at the same time uncertain of what was to come. Hearing my name called in the NBA was the best thing ever. I learned so much how to be a pro on and off the court with some of the best players in the world. I soaked up all the knowledge they gave me like a sponge.
The difference then and now is simple. Everyone had a role to play and they did just that in order to WIN. Now there is less identity in the League.
Milan, Barcelona, Piraeus, Lyon, Istanbul, Cantu, Avellino, Gdynia and many more. You really are a Europe - trotter. You´ve played in the Euroleague, Eurocup and some of the best leagues in Europe. Can you compare these leagues? Which league has been the most suitable for you?
I had some of the best times in all the cities. Each one has given me great memories. If I had to pick one I will pick Barcelona. It had everything like California. The sun, the palm trees, nice weather, the beach and great food. We played some of the best basketball and the fans loved it and supported us throughout the whole season. I really enjoyed myself there. But now Italy is home and I love being in Italy.
You´ve played in the 2 of the most interesting cities in Europe Barcelona and Milan, if you had to choose one of them to live there, which would it be and why?
If I had to choose between Milan or Barcelona. Barcelona reminded me California a lot, the beach, basketball is amazing, but don’t give me wrong, Milan was very good as well, so it will be a tough decision to choose between the two.
You are currently living in Italy, how do you like living there, their lifestyle, habits, traditions? Are you a pizza or pasta fan?
Living in Italy is amazing, the family is here and the food is amazing I love pasta and spaghetti and lasagna, pizza of course. The life is easy, relaxing and not chaotic like in the US and the family is very well taken care of and safe.
You certainly have some interesting and funny stories from traveling or with your teammates. Do you recall any? Can you tell us about it?
There are a lot of stories to tell you, but one for sure was when my teammate and me where driving to the game and had to get gas, but lost the keys and couldn’t find them. We tried to call everyone, but they where warming up and getting ready to play. We had to get a ride with a fan to the game and showed up 5 minutes late. The coach was very upset and we were fined, but we still won the game. No one believed us and thought we had overslept for the game.
You are not planning to hang up sneakers yet and want to play some more years. Can you tell us what do you do to stay in shape? Do you follow any special diet? Do you have any recommendations for older players so that they can play as long as possible?
At first I decided to hang up the shoes and call it quits. I was determined to pursue other things outside of playing like coaching and training. There are also other things that has shaped my personality the way I am now.
I had a great group of guys from the college level to the professional level that show me the ropes of how to be a professional on and off the court. And I felt I want to give it back to the younger generation that wants my help, so I´ve always had a basketball Academy called Ackrightpremier.
We focus on building a great foundation and making sure these kids get something out of playing basketball, get the joy that I had while playing, but also teach them to handle ups and downs and challenges. If you want to pursue your dreams, you´ll have ups and downs, you have expectations from other people and you will be challenged every single day.
But once I got on the court and I was demonstrating a lot of drills, I was getting shots of myself I got the joy back. We were playing against the guys I was training and it felt good to be back on that court smiling, laughing and having fun again. So I felt that it was the right situation for me to go and play basketball again.
I know that I can enjoy myself, have fun and play and I would love to be on a team that will need the knowledge I bring, my experience and leadership. I shouldn’t say I was hanging up my shoes in the first place because I always had the drive to play basketball. But the last situation I was in set me back a little as far as my mental drive and I wasn’t happy. Anyway, I know I don´t want to stop playing it now.