Playing together for the Orlando Magic, Franz and Moritz Wagner have lived the NBA dream. The brothers from Berlin followed the same path from Europe to the NBA via Michigan and are now taking on some of the greatest basketball players of all-time.

We spoke to Franz and Mo about the period of adaptation upon arriving in the NBA.

Franz said, “It was probably the travel at the start. Obviously, really long road trips, lot more flying, way better hotels than college!

“Also so much more alone time when you’re on the road. That was a huge adjustment. I think I’ve kinda got used to it already, but now I think the biggest challenge is how I get my mind off of the game. Whereas in college I’m forced to because I’m in class half the day…

“You’ve got to find other ways to occupy the mind with something else other than basketball.”

       

Franz has enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign. It wasn’t such an easy introduction to the league for Mo.

The elder brother said, “In college I would go to the gym at night even when we had practice because I loved it so much and I had this dream of going to the NBA and being drafted… I would do it just because I loved it.

“And all of a sudden you get drafted and it’s your job, it’s your responsibility and the love for it seems secondary. It’s on your to kind of get that back, and to me I struggled with that at first, because when you don’t play and you don’t have a great season your first year, and you have situations where you travel a lot, that’s work.

“When you go the gym, it feels like work. Getting back to just getting lost in playing basketball, regardless of your professional situation, was extremely valuable to me. Just the love for the game changes as soon as you get paid to do it.”

The brothers also spoke about the players they were most excited to face upon reaching the NBA. While he named a different Hall of Famer as his favorite player, Mo took the opportunity to talk about one of the greatest European NBA players of all-time in Dirk Nowitzki.

“To me… it was Dirk’s last year, I think. It was the last year of his career. That would’ve been cool to share the court with him. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, but just to be in the league at the same time as him was pretty cool.

“He obviously had a huge impact on our generation in Germany and I would have loved to play against Kevin Garnett too, but he’s been removed for a while… he was my favorite player growing up.

“But Dirk, an unbelievable impact for Germans, and what he stands for. He represents basketball and what it’s about. It was pretty cool to see him live even though it wasn’t the Dirk we know of from YouTube.”

Franz, meanwhile, cited the significance of LeBron James on his generation.

“I mean, like the obvious answers, not because I looked forward to guarding them maybe, but just to play them and be on the same court, would be LeBron and Kevin Durant

“Yeah, like I said, they’re handful to deal with on the court, but realising how cool it is to be on the same floor as them, knowing that maybe without LeBron I don’t even fall in love with the game. That’s the type of impact he had on our generation.”

The Jr. NBA Play Like a Pro presented by Gatorade® program is a virtual resource and content platform offering drills, instructional videos and live coaching clinics, as well as featuring Q&A sessions with Orlando Magic teammates and brothers, Moritz and Franz Wagner. The content library is available on OWQLO, the official Jr. NBA League app in Europe and the Middle East.

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