Herrmann learning to adjust to the NBA, and America
A Whole New World
October 6, 2006
Most rookies have to make adjustments during NBA training camp, working with new teammates, new coaches and new styles of play. Players get used to playing one way, in one system and then suddenly, they are faced with new challenges with a new team. Rookie Walter Herrmann is no exception. In this his first week of NBA practices, he is still learning the Bobcats plays and getting accustomed to NBA life.
But he is also adjusting to something else: a new country and a new language.
Originally from Argentina, Herrmann has only lived in the United States for two weeks. Besides his honeymoon three months ago, where he spent four days in Miami and four days in Orlando, he has never stepped foot on American soil. While in Florida, Herrmann joined the Bobcats for one game during the Orlando Summer League, where he scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes. A native Spanish speaker, Herrmann is learning English as quickly as he can, so he can converse easier with his coaches and teammates.
“It’s hard for me because I don’t speak a lot of English,” Herrmann said with a thick accent. “Pronunciation and speaking are very difficult for me. I’m learning.”
While Assistant Coach Gary Kloppenburg sometimes serves as Herrmann’s translator, the 6-9 forward’s English is quickly improving, and he is starting to speak without Kloppenburg’s aid. Hermann acknowledges that he understands more English than he can speak, which makes it easy for him to follow practice and work on his basketball skills.
“Practice is good and intensive,” he said. “It’s new for me. The NBA game is very fast, and the players are very different. But I think my adaptation is good.”
“He just needs a little help to get through the next couple of months until he learns the language,” said Kloppenburg, who has previously coached in Venezuela and taught Spanish in junior college. “He’s doing well; I think he understands everything that (Head) Coach (Bernie Bickerstaff) is trying to get across.”
Bickerstaff is pleased with the basketball savvy that Herrmann has brought to this team, indicating that the coaching staff been watching his talent develop overseas for a couple of years.
“He’s a guy who shoots the ball well, and he’s been a part of a situation (in Argentina) that has been successful,” Bickerstaff said. “He’s a guy that can put the ball in the basket, and he works hard.”
The Bobcats players have been extremely receptive to their new teammate and try to help him understand as much as possible.
“Basketball is basketball. No matter what language you speak, once you get on the court you are going to understand,” forward Sean May said. “He’ll pick up English, and we’ll help him. I know he has his English (dictionaries) around trying to figure it out. It’s going to take time, but Walter will get it.”
While he may have difficulty with the language, Herrmann doesn’t seem to have any problems understanding on the court. He sinks three-pointers with ease and plays solid defense, while always hustling during drills and sprints.
“His basketball intelligence is very high, so he can visualize things and pick them up extremely well,” Kloppenburg said. “If he needs help, I can explain it, but he’s getting good about visualizing the drills.”
Herrmann, 27, is no stranger to professional basketball, as he appeared in 379 professional games in Spain and Argentina, with career averages of 13.4 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting .526 from the field and .386 from the three-point line. He played for Argentina in the 2006 FIBA World Championships, averaging 9.8 points on .500 shooting and leading Argentina to a fourth place finish. He also was a member of the 2004 Argentinean Olympic Team that won the gold medal in Greece.
While Herrmann is adjusting to his new basketball team just fine, there are parts of the American culture that he’s having trouble with.
“In the USA, people eat dinner at 7 or 7:30. In Spain, people eat at 10 or 10:30. It’s probably the biggest difference for me,” Herrmann said, laughing.
“But I’m excited to be here.”
I'm really excited to see how this guy can do. Guys like Ginobili and Nocioni are really good players in this league and I hope he can do the same.
i would really like to see this guy succeed. he lost his entire family in a span of like 4 months...his mother, sister and fiance were all killed in an auto accident, then a few months later his father passed away.