Q&A with International Basketball Star
Everard Bartlett

Basketball runs in the Bartlett family. Everard's mom herself played at the then renowned Church College and had a great role in setting Everard on his professional journey. From the time when his father would order NBL VCR tapes from the US to the present days, Everard has gone a long way in his career and has ticked pretty much all the boxes a pro could hope for. He's played for the best NZ and Australian teams, represented New Zealand with the Tall Blacks for five years, has competed in too many world championships to count, competed at the Olympics, and was the surprise winner of the Slam Dunk Competition at the NBL All Star Weekend in 2006.

What future do you see for young kiwi basketballers?
Nowadays kids have instant access to every footage and information they can dream of. As a result, they are a lot more proficient about every aspect of the game than my generation could ever hope to become. They know the game better and completely understand the demands of training. It's not just that they know what they need to do but they also get why. Young people have a pro approach to the game from very early on. I think this is why the US was so much ahead of the rest of the world back in the 90's: they had all that information. Nowadays, the internet has leveled the plane to a great extent, so everyone has a chance of reaching the highest level.

Does that make it easier to play at pro level?
There is nothing harder than playing as a professional. You need to be totally dedicated to it heart, body and soul. If I didn't love the game, I would not be where I am today. The most important and hardest thing for kids to accept is that nothing is ever guaranteed. No matter how hard you work, how much effort you put into it, how much you sacrifice, you may still not get to play. At the end of the day, the decision is with the coach. At some point, the opportunity comes and that's when you need to be ready, that means being at the top of your form and your game.

How many hours a day do you spend training?
I'm in the gym every morning from 9 am, doing resistance training for about one hour. Then the team meets and we do on-court skills development for a couple of hours. In the afternoon, we're involved with community and school coaching work and me with my own business, The team meets again at 6:30 pm for another two hours of on-court team structure and strategy training. Most people think that sports pros have it easy -until they see what it's like for themselves.

How rewarding is it, working that hard?
It's the hardest and best thing in the world. I will always remember showing up at the Slam Dunk championship in Sydney when I was 19. I'm not sure how I even got the fan votes to qualify in the first place: no-one knew me! In my first ever interview with the host, he pretty much told me to try and not embarrass myself. Then I started doing some of my stuff and soon he was calling me 'my man'.
Facing the US team in the world championship was another memorable time: imagine playing against all your heroes, all at once? We went in to try and win, but I can tell you that none of us had forgotten their camera.

How does physiotherapy help?

That's a key part. You understand how important it is when you realise that, at the highest level, each player has their own physio. Colin has been working with us forever and we love him because he keeps us on the court. Injury prevention is paramount. If one of us does get injured -there's always a risk, Colin is the guy who gets us back in the game quicker.

How is the 2018 looking for the Hawks?

On paper, we have the best roaster, definitely a team of champions. Our new head coach, Zico Coronel brings heaps of experience. It's his first year as a head coach, which is a really good thing: it will bring a lot of energy into the team. You should come and watch us: it's only a $2 gold coin donation at Pettigrew Arena and we always have a fabulous time.

You've ticked pretty much all the boxes a pro basketball player could dream of. What does the future now hold for Everard Bartlett?
I look forward to a NZ champion title.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying playing as well as coaching. I see a very bright future ahead for our young local players and I really want to contribute to that. With EB Sports Development, I coach players from the age of 12 to elite and pro level. My approach is to focus on specific skills and break them down to their minutest details. The ability to know each skill in depth is what makes the difference between a good and a great player. We also have in-school programs. There are a lot of kids out there who may not be at elite level but love basketball. It's important to nurture that.

Everard is now back home with the Hawks for the 2018 season.

He also runs his own coaching and sports development clinic: www.ebsportsdevelopment.com

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