PORTRAIT OF BALLERS: JAKOB TÖRNELL

When I'm not playing basketball in Division 4, I am working as a basketball sportscaster for Eurosport. I have commented a couple of hundred games over the years, whether it's Euroleague or 3x3 tournaments. I'm also a frequent writer for Basketsverige.se and the Swedish Basketball Association's official newspaper Give N Go. I have, as main merit, interviewed Lebron James and Derrick Rose in Chicago in the legendary NBA arena United Center and made an "hemma hos" story with Joakim Noah for the Swedish magazine Café.

source: Cafe.se

source: Cafe.se

 

1. When did you start playing basketball and why?

I started playing basketball at the age of twelve, the year was 1992 and I lived in my hometown of Åmål. I had tried to play football for a few years but absolutely hated it. I played because everyone else was playing football but in the end I took my courage and stopped.

One day at school I met a guy who had recently moved in town. He walked up to me and said, "Do you play basketball?" I felt selected and figured it must be something special because he'd just asked me. In retrospect, he just had no one else to play with because nobody was playing basketball in Åmal and they all said no. He simply asked everyone until someone said yes! 

2. What does basketball mean to you?

From the day I started playing basketball, I have been deeply in love with the sport. Never before or after I have found a sport that I like as much as basketball. It has shaped me and my life for almost 22 years and has taken me to places I would never have seen, and meet people I would never have met. Without basketball, I would never have attended high school in the US, started studying at university or met so many inspiring people.

In periods in my life when my moral was pretty low, basketball has always been there as consolation which has been hugely important. I stopped playing basketball for two years in the early 2000s, but I longed to return so enormously for both the game but also for the whole lifestyle that exist around the sport. I decided to start again and play as long as possible in my life . Without basketball, my life would be much worse actually, it would be quite boring to have no passion.

3. What is your favorite basketball court in Stockholm and why? 

When I moved to Stockholm, I played most of the time at Åsö (Ed. Södermalm, check our map to find it!), but in recent summers I have been to in Mattheusskolan. I like the international focus that is there with players from all around the world with different levels who share the same passion for basketball. It is an interesting place from an integration perspective. Basketball acts as a bridge between people and cultures.

4. What is your best basketball memory?

Without a doubt, when I was 18, after several years of training, I managed to dunk. For me it meant a lot to finally succeed.

Another cool memory is when I went around with Joakim Noah in his Cadilac Escalde in the suburbs of Chicago and talked basketball. It was unreal but still felt so natural, he was really super friendly!

5. Your favorite kicks on and off court? Which pair did you buy last?

My favorite shoes ever that I have played in are the Nike Air Zoom Flight 1996. This season I play in the Nike Zoom KD VI, which is a similar shoe. Love that it is so stable, yet fairly-light and low. The dream is that his shooting talents will walk into my body, unfortunately it has not happened yet, ha ha.

Off court, I have three pairs of Air Jordans that I like very much. 

6. Name a basketball personality you look upon to:

I could say Lebron James or any other superstar but I actually am thinking differently. Firstly, it is hard to just pick up an individual player or person. There are so many that I look up to. The common denominator is that they love the sport of basketball and do everything to play when the opportunity arises.

But should I name one person, then it would be Magnus Lönnberg in my division 4 team, a fantastic 'basketball personality'. He's a real team player who always gives his most and is not afraid to speak to his teammates when they play badly. He plays hard, sometimes dirty but never over the limit. He has four children and has quite hectic days and evenings. But he almost attend all trainings and most matches. For me it's what basketball is all about, passion and respect for the sport.

A player who has recently put his shoes on the shelf is Mats Levin, I think he is also really admirable. He is one of those Swedes who have made the most professional years in europe. He has certainly shown that with a serious attitude and an ability to always give everything you can carve out a career even though you may not be the fastest, most athletic or best shooter. Mats Levin had a great game and could dime some sick assists. He is Swedish version of CP3 - Chris Paul.

The player who inspired me the most, however, is Vince Carter, he changed the sport with his spectacular game. I think he should get more credit actually. He is still in the NBA and still delivers, and he doesn't only score on dunks anymore.

7. Who do you think will be the next Swedish player in the NBA?

FC Barcelona Markus Ericsson, he is 2 meters long, has a great skills and a really good shot. In the NBA, there is place for this type of player and his "floater" is not to be trifled with. Now I only hope that his knee injury doesn’t end his potential NBA career.

8. The perfect song before a game:

 Robot Rock by Daft Punk

 

9. How would you define the basketball culture in Stockholm?

In terms of number of players, basketball is the second largest sport in Stockholm and there are 7 divisions if you want to play in competition.

Basketball Culture in Stockholm is primarily focused on playing the game and maybe not quite as much on watching elite matches and basketball in general.

It is clear that the interest for the sport is greater than it has ever been in Stockholm. Basketball is a natural part of the sport mix that is here and many have played or are playing basketball.

10. No Ice bucket involved, but you can nominate one person to be one of the next on Portrait of Ballers, what's your pick? 

Henrik Smedberg, the guy is so much basketball. It's basically the only thing he's doing. He has played basketball since he was a child and love the sport quite a lot.

Today he works as an Event Manager for the Swedish Basketball Federation, and even though his job is basketball, he never says no to play outdoors, watch a game live or check the NBA. Then he is also Stockholm the strongest 34-year-old with his 177cm, he still dunks easily. A true baller!


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Same city. Same Passion. Different Story. 

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