Paul Zipser’s kind of town, Chicago is. Hoffman Estates as well, likely.
“The life is so different here,” Paul Zipser, the Bulls second round draft choice from Germany was saying late Friday. “How relaxed people here are. Germany, you have people walking head down the whole time, focused on jobs and to get to a meeting as fast as possible. They don’t talk to each other, really. Here’s more relaxed. Together a little more.”
Zipser Friday along with Jerian Grant and R.J. Hunter will be getting together to play with the Windy City Bulls at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates in the game against the Canton Charge, the D-league team of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Some Bulls reserves lately have been alternating between Bulls practices and Windy City games with Cristiano Felicio playing well in Thursday’s win over the Spurs after a stint playing for Windy City last week.
For Zipser, it will be an opportunity, finally, to get significant playing time. And for fans to get a long look at a Swiss (German?) Army Knife of a player, a 6-8 player of multiple skills.
Zipser has played in six Bulls games this season, a total of 29 minutes at the close of blowout games. He hasn’t scored an NBA point and has attempted just six shots. He is a versatile player who does a little bit of everything, handling the ball, physical with passing abilities and attacking the basket, a good shooter who is aggressive. He’s a competent athlete with almost a seven-foot wingspan. He has possibilities, but just hasn’t been able to break into the rotation with so many new players.
Germany hasn’t produced many NBA players. Dirk Nowitzki, of course, and more recently Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder. Zipser, 22, looks like he has a nice feel for the game, and he was anxious to sign with the Bulls, he said, because unlike other NBA teams, they told him they didn’t want him to remain in Europe as a second round pick and that had a future with the team and in the NBA.
“You never know how draft night will be,” said Zipser, who speaks impeccable English. “Many were talking about stashing me first. I was really happy with Chicago drafting me and told me they wanted to get me here. They told me they wanted to give me a contract; that’s why we did it with Chicago.”
Zipser was born in Heidelberg into a comfortable family. He said his father owns a supermarket and his mother is a doctor. He said his father played amateur basketball and he was going along with him and hanging around gyms as a small child.
“I always did many sports,” Zipser said. “My father was playing basketball. So I always was in basketball gyms. I started playing basketball maybe at 11 or 12. I was pretty tall, so people were asking me to try basketball. I tried it, I liked it, I was pretty good. My coach back there, he was a local trainer getting all the good players (for his team) together, so I always competed with the best players.”
Germany doesn’t have the university system for sports like in the U.S., so after high school, Zipser turned pro. His dream, he said, was always to play for the German National team, which he did under 16 and under 18.
“When I became a national player I wanted to be a pro in Europe,” he said. “Not thinking of the NBA. The NBA, of course, is a dream, but it’s pretty far away where you start. With the time I got better, went to the national team and I thought I wanted to be an NBA player one day. This summer the opportunity was there and I took it.”
Zipser said he never knew that much about the NBA since the games came on well after midnight. “I never was a guy taking an alarm a 2 at night to watch a basketball game,” he admits.
Pro ball in Europe, he says, is much different with constant practices, though maybe two games a week. So that became a full time occupation.
“You practice way way more in Europe,” he said. “Always team practice. “Here it’s more traveling, different lifestyle. I really like it. Never before in America.”
Or Hoffman Estates. Which may be even a little quieter, at least outside the Sears Center, than he’s seen in Chicago. He should enjoy it.