By: Morten Stig Jensen
On April 3rd, head coach Monty Williams and the Phoenix Suns made history when Gabriel “Iffe” Lundberg was subbed in against the Oklahoma City Thunder, becoming the first-ever Danish player to play in an official NBA game. It must be the week for making history, as the Suns won their 63rd game of the season, a franchise-record, just one game later against the Los Angeles Lakers.
So, who is this new addition to the Suns? You're about to find out.
Here are 10 Things You Need To Know About Gabriel “Iffe” Lundberg.
Lundberg's wife, Camilla, was the one who convinced him to focus more on his three-point shot, if he were to have a shot at the NBA at some point. During the 2020 offseason, after coming off a year in which he hit just 27.4% from downtown, Lundberg began changing his shooting form. The following year he not only raised his efficiency to 37.1%, but also took over three more attempts per game from outside the long line.
He debuted in the best Danish league - Basketligaen - at the age of just 18, averaging 11.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. At the conclusion of the following season Lundberg was named Best Young Player in the Danish league, averaging 17.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals. By the age of 20, he was widely considered one of the best all-around players in Danish basketball.
In 2016, Lundberg won the Danish league championship with Horsens IC, scoring 21 points in a deciding Game 7 win. He was 21 years old at the time. He later, in 2021, made it to the EuroLeague Final Four with his Russian team at the time, CSKA Moscow.
As a youngster, Lundberg was so keen on making it to the gym in time to get up enough shots, he would put meatballs in his pockets to eat on the way. In his later years, he has developed a supreme fondness for Indian food.
He has played for six professional clubs before joining the Suns. BMS Herlev Wolfpack (Denmark), Horsens IC (Denmark), Manresa (Spain), Tenerife (Spain), Zielona (Poland), and CSKA Moscow (Russia). He developed in the youth ranks at Falcon Basketball in Copenhagen.
Growing up, Lundberg didn't even want to play basketball and considered himself a soccer player. At the age of 5, his older brother dragged him to a practice where he fell in love with the game. It was at that same age the NBA made it to his radar, and his motivation developed.
“Iffe” is a nickname stemming from his middle name “Ifeanyi” which has Nigerian origin.
Despite standing 6'3, Lundberg has a 6'9 wingspan which he's put to good use defensively over the course of his career. Over the past few years, he's begun using his long arms as an advantage offensively as well, as he increased the release point on his jump shot. “I feel like it's incredibly tough for defenders to block my shot now,” he recently told Danish media.
Growing up, Iffe idolized LeBron James, the current Los Angeles Lakers superstar. When asked by Danish television what he would do if he ever were to face James in a game, he said “Oh, I'm going to try something,” which illustrates his competitive nature.
On November 29th, 2020, Lundberg exploded for 38 points for the Danish national team against the Czech Republic, earning Denmark a crucial win. He knocked down seven three-pointers in the contest and connected on 13-of-14 free throws.
There's of course a lot more to know about Lundberg, but that's for Suns fans to learn as he settles in with the team.