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Ex-Public Radio Announcer Talks About His Shot At Being A Pro Basketball Player

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAREEM MADDOX: This is KUNC 91.5 FM.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Last time we spoke to Kareem Maddox, the public radio announcer had packed his bags for Poland, where he'd been signed to play pro basketball. We've reached him now in Krosno. Thanks very much for being back with us, Kareem.

MADDOX: Hey, thanks for having me on again, Scott.

SIMON: We should explain we introduced you as a former public radio announcer. But that's self-serving. You're also a former pro athlete.

MADDOX: It's been three years.

SIMON: Like so many of us public radio announcers, you're also a former pro athlete.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOX: Yeah, yeah.

SIMON: I don't think I can get away with that.

MADDOX: Usually, that's the NPR pipeline, isn't it?

SIMON: Right, exactly. Yeah. You've played a couple games now. How'd they go?

MADDOX: They went well. We played the best team in Poland, actually, in our first game and lost pretty badly. But I played OK. In the second game, we won, which was great. This team was just promoted - the team that I play on - to the first division.

It's much like European soccer in that way. So it was the first win in the top division of basketball for the city. So it was a pretty big deal. And we were happy about it.

SIMON: And how's your Polish?

MADDOX: It is nonexistent. The little Polish that I have learned is (speaking Polish), which means, I don't speak Polish.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Good phrase, yeah.

MADDOX: (Laughter) Yeah. It's come in handy.

SIMON: I think (speaking Polish) is a greeting.

MADDOX: Yes. (Speaking Polish). That's like, how's it going, essentially.

SIMON: Yeah. I mean this question sincerely, although I know it'll sound funny. Do you play basketball in Polish or English?

MADDOX: (Laughter). We try to do everything in English.

SIMON: Like, a dunk is a dunk. It's not dunk in Polish or, you know, dunk in another language. It's a dunk.

MADDOX: Yeah. It's a slam dunk. Yeah. I think that's kind of universal.

SIMON: What's Krosno like?

MADDOX: Krosno is great. It's really small. It's about 50,000 people. It's kind of a young town, too - lots of high school students. But they get excited about basketball. So that's good.

SIMON: I'm going to guess you're pretty well-known in town already.

MADDOX: Yeah. So myself and our other Americans - we kind of feel like aliens, sometimes, walking around, being African-American. We don't see many other black people. In fact, I really haven't seen any other than myself and Royce, my teammate. But people kind of know who we are. And everyone's really friendly.

SIMON: Last time we spoke, you were thinking about starting a podcast. I wonder if you've gone down that road in any way.

MADDOX: I have. So I've done a lot of planning. And I actually have a great episode planned out with regards to food here in Poland. I met someone whose grandmother is going to teach them how to make pierogies, which are very traditional food here.

As she learns how to make pierogies from her grandmother, I'm just going to sit there and kind of see the process and see this tradition passed down from grandmother to grandchild, which should be interesting.

SIMON: Yeah. And to save me a mispronunciation, what is the name of your team?

MADDOX: Yeah. It's Miasto Szkla Krosno.

SIMON: Which means?

MADDOX: City of Glass. Yes. And that's because it has a history of glass-making. And another fun fact is the first oil well was drilled in this city - or very close by.

SIMON: Wow. And yet they're not the Krosno Oilers.

MADDOX: (Laughter) No, no, they're not. But, you know, I'll have to delve into that in a podcast episode.

SIMON: Kareem Maddox speaking to us from Krosno, Poland. Thanks very much for being with us, and good luck.

MADDOX: Thanks for having me. I appreciate that. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.