Nine months in Germany surely qualifies as dues paid in Chris Kramer's quest for an NBA career. He hopes to cash in later this fall.
Kramer will be playing in two NBA summer leagues – with the Indiana Pacers in Orlando and the Atlanta Hawks in Las Vegas – as he works to earn a 2012-13 training camp invite.
“I'm going to try to test those waters this summer,” he said. “I'll get in the best shape I can, work on my game, get it to the top level I can and go to the summer leagues and impress as many people as it takes to get a job.”
Kramer helped lead his German team to the league semifinals and led the team in scoring and steals. He returned to his Huntington home last Friday and has almost adjusted his body back to his home time zone. He was out playing informal basketball again Wednesday night.
“I think I learned a lot about myself and matured as a basketball player,” Kramer said.
The German league was extremely physical, Kramer said, with few fouls called in the paint. But he said the biggest adjustment was living abroad. Kramer's longest previous time out of Indiana was five or six weeks in Puerto Rico, he said.
“I was really scared before I went, but I was very fortunate we had six Americans other than myself, so we helped each other out,” Kramer said. “It was good to have people to lean on when times got hard and you were missing your family and friends.”
Kramer said he honed his cooking skills abroad, but stuck to primarily American cuisine. The language barrier was his biggest problem over the course of the nine months, although many people spoke English, he said.
Kramer, a standout at Purdue University, spent his first post-college career with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League. He decided when the NBA lockout hit last year to take his game overseas.
“I know I'm going to put all my effort into becoming the professional basketball player I want to be,” Kramer said. “The NBA, obviously, is still my ultimate dream and I'm getting the chance to pursue that still. That's something I look forward to every day.”
Kramer would likely be welcomed back to the Mad Ants, but he says he does not envision a return to the D-League.
“I loved the Mad Ants and being close to home, but if the NBA doesn't work out, I think I'd be a very good European player,” Kramer said. “I would probably pursue that if that's what happens.”
Kramer took a few weeks off in Germany after the season ended, but will return to dedicated training next week. The NBA summer leagues begin in early July.
“Next week, I'll start hitting it twice a day, doing some weights, getting some shots up and working on my ballhandling,” Kramer said. “It's time to get back to work.”