Red Dragons Saint-Avold have recently announced the signing of Dutch international, Mustafa Korkmaz following his departure from German side, Baskets 96 Rahden. The veteran 3.0 player has had a lot of success across both the German and Turkish leagues. He looks to continue to bring that success to the French league as he reunites with his Dutch brothers. He spoke to Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings about the next move in his career.
Why did you choose to sign for Red Dragons next season?
“Besides the fact that I’m going to play with my ‘splash brother’ again. I also think it is important that basketball doesn’t take too much time away from my family. My wife supports me fully and does everything she can to be there for me and the family, next to her work and being a mother of two children. Even though I chose another club, I must think about my role as a father. For us it is not a problem that I’m away from home for months, but I think that especially now that we have our second child, I personally can’t handle being away for months and see them growing up via videos and pictures. In my opinion, it’s about raising the children personally and being there for them when they need you, that’s the most important thing in life. With those thoughts in mind plus that I am also looking forward to playing alongside my new teammates. I chose the Red Dragons!”
How do you intend to fit into the team?
“It’s a new team but we know each other well. I like to play point guard but playing a pick and roll on the side or shooting from the 45 is also no problem for me. We have the advantage to play with four Dutch players in one team. If we all know what we do and take responsibility, then there will be no problems at all.”
What challenges do you think you will face in the French league?
“I think that the first year in a new league is always exciting. New team, new players, new coach, another sports hall, different baskets, all kinds of stuff that I have to get used to it in the beginning. The challenge will be that I should not be disturbed by external factors. Just getting back to basics and doing what we have to do and loving to do it and that’s playing basketball and enjoying it. Personal challenges will be that I want to be a better player than my last game and play every game like it’s my last game.”
How do you think the Dragons’ style of play will differ to Rahden’s?
“I don’t worry about the style of play because I have the right feeling about my new team, and I know that we can play every style of play with this team. The focus will be working together as a team and taking responsibility instead of passing it off.”
What are your goals for next season?
“The most important thing is to have fun. If I don’t have fun, there’s no reason to be playing there. If I have fun, then I will work hard and develop good habits.”
How would you describe your style of play?
“Over the years I have become a much stronger, smarter and calmer player. Of course, my age plays a big role. I’m getting older and wiser. I want to show that life experience on the court. It’s very difficult because I hate to lose, but I have learned a lot from tough losses and that has made me a better player.”
Who has influenced you the most in your career?
“Gertjan van der Linden: I looked up to him, I wanted to play like him, I wanted the same chair as him. He was one of the best players in the world and I had the chance to watch his games. Of course, the style of basketball was different back then, but the technique, motivation and tricks are all the same or in some ways better. The vision that he had, the no look passes that he gave and the passion he showed whilst playing the game inspired me the most. In 2007, he became my coach and from that point I started to learn everything personally from him. As a coach he taught me the most and he made me the player I am today. Thanks a lot coach!
Patrick Anderson: In the beginning I only focused on van der Linden because he was my idol. Patrick was my opponent. When I watched Patrick play, I saw the true art of wheelchair basketball. There’s nothing better than playing against someone you’ve always looked up to. That’s the best motivation you can get! Wheelchair basketball GOAT. A living legend.”
What’s the most memorable piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Know how to respond to failures. Learn from your failures. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Take responsibility because no one will do it for you. Like Michael Jordan said: ‘Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.’”
If you could do a training session with three other players who you’ve never trained with before, who would you choose and why?
1. Patrick Anderson, because he’s the GOAT.
2. Dan Highcock, because of his training mentality.
3. Steve Serio, because I think I can learn a lot from him.
Thanks for your time man!
Rollt. would like to thank Mustafa Korkmaz for the interview.
Mustafa Korkmaz Profile
Date of Birth: 18/01/1988 (aged 33)
Hometown: Oldenzaal, Overijssel
Started playing: 1996
Disability: Double-leg amputee
Future Club: Red Dragons Saint-Avold, FRA (starting September 2021)
_ISV Hengelo, NED (1996-07)
_RSC Osnabrück, GER (2007-09)
_ASV Bonn, GER (2009-10)
_Köln 99ers, GER (2010-11)
_Elecom Rome, ITA (2011-12)
_Galatasaray SK, TUR (2012-14, 2016-18)
_BG Baskets Hamburg, GER (2014-16)
_Baskets 96 Rahden, GER (2018-21)
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Uli Gasper