15 oktober 2009Every month fans of ZZ Leiden vote their player of the month. This month Monta McGhee received most of the votes. Monta was born in Chicago on 11-11-1979. He's a forward and his length is 1.98 meter. He has a daughter called Makiyah who is one year old now. Besides basketball he also spend his time playing videogames and watching many sports. Favorites are hockey, baseball, football and basketball of course. And when this is all getting too much he doesn't mind laying back and relax.
"No, it was always basketball, I can play other sports, actually there was only one sport I played in high-school and that was baseball, I played it for four years. I didn't play basketball that time. And football... that would have made me crazy, too much hits and I like my body."
In the end it worked out well for us. You chose basketball and came to Europe. Before Leiden you were playing in Germany. How is basketball over there?
"The only difference is that there are more teams, Germany has more money. Maybe there are more better players because they have more money. The fans are almost the same as here. The atmosphere is very similar like this I think. Most of the gyms have about 2500 till 3000 fans. There are some big gyms, like in Berlin, over there it's crazy."
So now you are playing in Leiden. How did that happen?
"I think I ended up here because of Danny Gibson. They needed a athletic wing player and I fitted in, me and Danny are close, so you can bring in two players that know each other. We also played in a higher level too and we always want to win. The coach told me Danny was here and that they could use me, so I said yes and came."
So Danny plays an important role in your career and life?
"Yes, he is like a little brother to me. We didn't know how the relationship had to be when we were in Europe, but at home we talk all the time and we visit each other often. We live only a couple of hours away. We also meet other players in Chicago, players we played with a couple of years ago. One is playing in Germany right now and another one is playing in Austria. We are all like brothers, we are all very close. For me, he is the closest because we played in the same team before. But I also live close with the others; Seamus, Ronny and Danny, so we visit each other quit often."
Did you know Leiden before you came here and what is your opinion about the city?
"Before I came here I only knew Amsterdam and Rotterdam but right now I like Leiden, I didn't see much of Leiden yet but I like it because it is quite small. At home I live in a big city, here you just have one team you know. Not like Amsterdam or any other big city where you have a lot of different clubs and sports but no fans you know."
Talking about the fans, how do you like the fans and the atmosphere here?
"I love them, the fans make us play harder, if you hear the fans screaming you want to make them have a good time and give a good show."
How about the players in Holland. Who do you think is the best player in the competition on your position?
On my position? Me of course. Hmm, actually I think, and that is not because he's my team mate and a good friend, but I think Danny is the best player in the league right now. The way he's bringing up the ball and the way he's shooting right now, I really think he's the best. He never shot that well before. I also think Elijah Palmer from Weert is a very good player. He has an average of 22.6 ppg and about 11 rebounds. I think these two are the best players right now. And me of course!"
Well, you made a good impression in the first match in Leeuwarden. Tell us what happened.
"I was just trying to get a last shot. As you know, most of the players like to make crazy shots after or before the practice. I have made one of those shots before, but that was only when we were playing around. Everybody can make one of this shots I think, but making this in the last seconds of the game that was great. I don't remember what I felt but I wasn't playing great that day and I was kind of frustrated because of the way I was playing. And then they had that rebound en we made the fault so they had the free throws. I actually told Seamus to get me that last ball and when it came off, I got it. I took some dribbles and just let it go. And it went in!! I remember I watched the fans and you could see on their faces that they didn't believe it went in."
You said you were a little frustrated in the game, why were you frustrated?
"I can see myself as a leader although I'm part of the team. I see players look at me too. I'm always trying to get other people better. But if I'm playing bad and we're struggling, I get frustrated with myself. If I play a little bit better, and I know I can, we didn't have to make that last shot. I'm not the captain of the team, but I do see myself as a leader. I talk to everybody, if somebody is having a bad day I'm always trying to make them get back into the game. We all have the same uniform and we all play for each other as a team."
So you are well focused on your own play, did we see the real Monta already?
"No, I still think I can play a whole lot better. I know I can shoot better than I'm doing now.
So when that takes off, it will be a lot better. I'm happy with the team we have, and I'm oke with myself for now, but as you know, every player always wants to play better."
So what are your expectations for this year?
"Championship, definitely the championships. That's the only thing we play for. I think that we can compete with the rest. We can beat the Flames, Eiffel and other teams. We have provened it already. For example last week in Groningen, oh man that was a great match. I really love playing on the road in an atmosphere like that. With a lot of people in it and then win a match like that. That team was undefeated and it's a big team and we showed them, don't count Leiden out!
So the goal for this year is clear, how about the rest of your career?
"I just want another championship. I have one when I was playing in Denmark, and it's absolutely great to win a title. With the pre-season and the competition it's great to win after 8 or 9 months. I think that's the goal for every basketball player. One team has to win the last game, and when it's your team, I can not tell how great that is.
Thank you Monta for this interview, we'll keep the sentence above in our mind and will see what happens in the end!