Zaire Taylor: There’s a chance I may return to the BBL
Zaire Taylor has been a proven winner during his pro career in Europe. He has most recently won the 2015-2016 NM1 championship in France. We spoke to him to find out where he will play next season.
BG:Thanks for join us please tell us who you are and your basketball journey until signing your first pro contract?
Zaire Taylor: My name is Zaire Taylor. I’ve been playing basketball since I was 3 years old. Everybody in my family plays basketball, coaches basketball, and knows basketball so it was always something natural. I played centre in high school so I wasn’t really recruited. I did one year of prep at the point guard position where I was ranked top 50 in the country. I signed to the University of Delaware before transferring to Missouri. I had some good seasons at Missouri including winning a big 12 championship. I later signed my 1st pro contract to play in Holland.
Game winning shot vs Kansas in 2009
BG: After Holland you went to the U.K. and won 5 trophies in the BBL within 3 years. What have you learnt from the BBL?
Zaire Taylor: In my years in the BBL my game definitely became more seasoned; however during my time in the BBL I think the best thing I learnt was how to be a better pro. This came from living, learning, making mistakes in my time there, and being mentored by some of the right people like a Rod Brown. Nigel Lloyd also gives me good advice when we speak.
BG: You just won another Championship in NM1 France. Where does your winner’s mentality come from?
Zaire Taylor: I think it comes from always losing growing up. I was one of the youngest in my generation in my family. So I was the smallest, the weakest, the slowest, so I would always lose to my cousins. They would beat me, and I would cry or want to fight sometimes. I would make them play me again, lose, and repeat the cycle until they got tired of beating me. We would literally play every day and I would lose every day, but I always thought I was going to win that next game. Once they would go inside I would stay outside and keep practicing so I wouldn’t lose the next day. There had been a point in time where my record was 0 wins 1000 losses, and truly thought I was going to win that 1001st game.
BG: What is the difference between BBL (UK) and NM1 France?
Zaire Taylor: NM1 has slightly better talent. Teams have a lot more depth on the bench. The big men are bigger and more athletic. There is also better preparation for the games as a whole in the league. E.g. Game day shoot arounds on the road and at home and film sessions. A lot has to do with budgets and resources.
BG: Will you return to either the BBL or NM1 next season?
Zaire Taylor: It’s still early. I have received offers from both leagues, but I’m still exploring. I won’t look exclusively in those two leagues, but there’s a chance I may return to the BBL. I’m currently speaking with one team, if the business is right and we can come to terms I will be back.
BG: You win everywhere you go. I can’t see a BBL team not signing you. Are the finances holding you back from returning?
Zaire Taylor: It’s not the money. It has nothing to do with money. I’m comfortable at the moment and I don’t believe there is a BBL team that will offer me what I haven’t already been offered. If they did it probably wouldn’t work because then how much will there be to sign other guys needed to win.
BG: Did you achieve your goals for this season?
Zaire Taylor: I’ve never achieved my goal in any season thus far. I want to win every game, and I’ve yet to do that. I want to get it done once before my career is over. I am definitely satisfied with a championship though.
BG: What will you work on this summer?
Zaire Taylor: I shot well this year, but I always tune up my shot. I will work with my shooting coach, continue to improve my post moves, and my left hand finishes, which I’ve been working on all year. Also mentally I want to get back to being a killer on the court and playing above the rim.
BG: Where is the most memorable experience during your career so far?
Zaire Taylor: The most memorable?!? I remember my last BBL Game losing in the O2 arena and being out played by Rahman Fletcher. I remember that more than any other game. The thing is I hate losing way more than I love winning, so that sticks with me more than any good game or championship
BG: What was your best moment in the BBL?
Zaire Taylor: I have a lot of great moments that stick with me, weather it was a play, or big win. The one that sticks out with me the most at the moment was scoring 41 points on Worcester knocking them out the playoffs. Obviously it was my old team which always intensifies things. It was an elimination game, and all year I heard little things, banter and how essentially they had my number. I love proving people wrong that doubt me, or hearing I’m not capable. I don’t take it personal, but I like to use my haters as my motivators as my old coach use to say. So it was a great moment. That was my career high and I scored a lot that night, but the whole team was clicking and everybody was playing great basketball. But if you asked me in an hour I’d probably have a different answer.
BG: What do you tell anyone who wants to get better and play pro ball?
Zaire Taylor: If it’s what you want to do, put the work in, and don’t stop working until you get where you want. Usually once you get there you have to work harder because that’s when everybody’s coming for your spot. If it was easy everybody would be doing it.
Taylor’s playoff final highlights with Worcester Wolves 2013-2014
Taylor’s 41 pts performance VS Worcester Wolves 2014-2015
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