Kristina King - The King of Queens is back!
Kristina King (180-G-92, college: Richmond) is a 25-year old American point-forward from Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated in 2014 from the University of Richmond, where she averaged 14.1ppg, 7.0rpg, 4.4apg, 2.7spg in 32 games. After that, she continued her Basketball career in Romania, Iceland, Spain, Lebanon, Taiwan and has been playing for the Basket Club Saint Paul Reze in France. In 2016/17, King put up great stats with Score-5 (20.4ppg), Reb-6 (8.0rpg), Assists-5 (4.4apg), 3.4spg in Switzerland. The Summer of 2016 she helped her team win the Bronze medal in the FIBA Jones Cup (Taiwan), which has been her greatest success so far in her professional career. She was later named Asiabasket.com All-FIBA Jones Cup Top Import (20.1ppg).
Such a great start to a young career almost came to an end last season in Lebanon. King was playing for the Chabibeh Sporting Club of the WLBL. She was becoming a league legend after setting several single game marks. She was voted by Asiabasket.com as the top player of round one averaging an incredible 27 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. It would seem as though nothing could stop her; until something did. In a heated rivalry game vs. defending champion Homentmen Antelias; King tore her ACL. She spent the last eight months rehabbing her knee to return to professional basketball. King would shock the world by returning in September and signing a new contract in France for Basket Club Saint Paul Reze. She is now currently playing for SG Bergishe Loewen in the German DBBL. Last night King scored a game high 26 points in a big win over fourth ranked Bender Baskets.
Kristina, thank you for talking to eurobasket.com.
Your career has been one that people could write a movie about. However, you suffered a knee injury at the beginning of last season, which forced you to sit out for the whole season. How hard was this for you?
A: First off, thank you for taking the time to have me. Last season I did suffer a knee injury at a point where I feel I was playing some of my best basketball. It was very hard to sit out and watch my team struggle throughout the season and know there was nothing I could do except offer my advice and coach from the sideline. However being around them kept me focused on attacking my rehab stronger than ever. I was able to stay in the mindset of being a basketball player and go to practices and still be around the game which honestly helped so much in those first few months. Going from playing the game at a high level to not being able to do simple tasks such as walking was very tough, but my teammates and coaches constantly pushed me and kept me focused on the positives and the bigger picture - that I would come back stronger than ever.
You said you had your surgery in Lebanon, how was it having surgery in a different country away from home and with the language barrier?
A: Having surgery in general is a scary ordeal no matter where you are. It was tough in a different country, but I was surrounded by an unbelievable support system in President Fadi Tabet and wife Lama Tabet, Coach Barnes, and my teammates. The doctor also came very highly recommended by other Americans who had worked with him and after a few meetings and explanations of what would happen I felt very comfortable. The language barrier in Lebanon was very minute in comparison to other countries.
In 2018 you signed a contract in France, but now your shocking everyone by coming to Germany. Talk to us about that situation. How does this make you feel? Does it have to do with your connection with your former coach J.D. Barnes?
A: France is an amazing country to play in and I was so blessed to be able to play there for the time that I did. The French love their basketball and are very competitive. Each practice and workout was intense and it was a great experience. I am very grateful to the Basket Club Saint Paul Reze organization, coaches, and fans for their support these last few months. However, yes I have made the decision to finish out this season in Germany. It was really just about timing. Coach Barnes checks on me regularly to see how I am doing (or to yell at me for what I'm not doing) and when he expressed that he was in need of leadership and a big guard it got me thinking. We worked so well together in Lebanon and his team was tied for 1st place playing with only 1 American import so the thoughts of potentially coming back and winning a championship were very appealing. I had already done preseason with the team so I was familiar and knew the players so the timing just worked out.
How are you now? Have you fully recovered?
A: Yes I am back and fully recovered. I worked my behind off this summer and preseason with 3 ACL professionals who each had their own way of pushing me. I passed all my functionality tests with flying colors and made sure I would be ready to go for my first season back. Especially since I knew I was going to France where the level is very high and very tough. Their physicality tested me greatly so I know my knee is ready.
That is great news. Sounds like you are looking forward to playing in Germany. What are your goals?
A: I am very excited to play in Germany. My goals are honestly to win and help the team move up. Of course personally I would like to be in the league's top charts for scoring, rebounding, and assists, but at the end of the day if I can help them win and move up then I have done my job.
Your family is from Germany. Does the president have any goals of making you a national player with time?
A: Martin (Spicker) is a very smart guy and this is the goal. I would love to get a passport and represent my native country in Germany. My grandfather was a very proud German man. He taught me alot about my roots so I think it will be pretty cool.
The SG Bergishe Loewen are now 10-1 and tied for first place in the league. This record has shocked everyone in Germany. How do you think you can help this club get to the first league of the DBBL?
A: Yes, I know everyone has been shocked because of how they have performed the past few years. I'm excited to join and think I can help bring more leadership and as a big guard create mismatches at any position. I can play inside and outside so that helps with any matchup we come across and hopefully push us over the hump to win and move into the first league.
I don't mean to ask; but we all want to know. Why did you leave France for Germany? Were you and the club displeased?
A: No absolutely not! I am so appreciative for Coach Rodolphe Manhe and Coach Mamadou Cisse. They and the Basket Club Saint Paul Reze organization were amazing and such a great club to be apart of. Like I said earlier - it was really just the situation and timing. Getting the opportunity to play again for Coach J.D. Barnes and make a championship run was very appealing. Being with coach and a great president like Martin Spicker made this choice very easy.
Thanks for the chat and good luck on your future career!