Lynard can you tell us a little about yourself, where do you hail from etc, where you attended school and college?
Well first and foremost I hail from Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. I attended a well known high school in the city called Simon Gratz, the school was/is known for producing great basketball players, and I myself played along side of NBA all-star (sometimes) Rasheed Wallace while being the number 1 high school in the nation. From there I attended Temple University another well known basketball program where I received my Bachelors Degree. I’m the youngest of 4, 2 brothers and 1 sister. A basketball rich family, both my brothers played division 1 basketball, my eldest brother Larry Stewart played in the NBA for 6 years, and later had a long career playing in Europe. My other brother Stephen Stewart played in Holland and Australia. They both are now collegiate basketball coaches.
What was the first contact you had about playing in the UK?
I believe Chris Finch (Now Great Britain National team Head Coach) was my first contact with basketball in the UK. But I actually would see the games on TV, when I played in China, and Spain. This was when the games were televised 2 times a week I believe. Years ago obviously.
What did you know about British Basketball?
From seeing the games on television it was easy to get an idea on how the game was in Britain. Back then the game was fast, full of guards who could shoot and score.
What were your first impressions of the city when you arrived in Sheffield?
When I first arrived in Sheffield it was kind of scary. Never seen anyone drive on the opposite side, the city seemed quiet. Me being from a huge city, it seems so very small. But after being there for a while I got used to things. The community was very welcoming, along with teammates and supporters.
The team was very successful in those early days; did that make it easy to settle in?
I think anytime you come into a situation that’s doing well its much easier. Everyone is at ease, and things seem to run smoothly. So winning made things easier.
The word is that you’ve taken the decision to hang up your boots. Is that correct and why have you chosen to retire now?
I heard that too, hahahahah. The truth is a time has come in my life where basketball is not number one. It used to be all I knew, or even wanted to know, I just loved playing. I realize now there are things more important than basketball. Such as family and friends. So the decisions I make now are made with them in mind. Now I see basketball as my job. Seldom people get to do a job they love doing. But seeing it as my job, open my eyes to other things. For example if someone came and said I would pay you more to do something else, and be home then I would have to consider doing that.
Before if it wasn’t basketball I wasn’t doing it. So this past year I decided that in order for me to leave home, my family, friends, loved ones, I would need to get paid a certain amount in order to be comfortable with leaving. Other wise I could stay home and make more or the same amount doing something else. So I wouldn’t 100% say I was retired, just not leaving to go play anywhere unless it’s more than what I’m capable of making at home. And honestly I don’t think it was an outrageous amount to ask for, but there are some troubled times around and I’m comfortable with my decision.
After leaving the Sharks you moved to London Towers. What was that like?
I must say it was hard leaving the sharks, I mean we did so many things there in Sheffield. And the friendships I created are long lasting. I still talk with friends from there, and still have fond memories. But London was wonderful. To be able to live in one of the top cities in the world was amazing. And I also made some great friends there also. My contract there was also great.
You’ve been with the British game for a number of years, what is you impression of the BBL and what of the future?
Well this is a tough one. When I first came into the league it seemed to be making some huge strides. We played on TV on Sundays, and there were so many teams. Now I believe the league has 10 teams, and to be televised seems to almost be impossible. It seems to be going in the wrong direction. It actually hurts, because for basketball to be the 2nd most played sport in the world it doesn’t make sense for a country such as England to not have a bigger impact.
What do we have to do for the BBL to go to the next level?
Also a tough question, but the funny thing is I have thought about it many times. I think the first things is, it needs to get on television. I think that would definitely be the start in its takeoff. I think from there the support would pour in from sponsors, fans, even from investors. I was watching TV the other day and I heard them say that the NFL had over 6 billion in Television contracts for the upcoming season. I said wow. I also think that the time is now; with the Olympics coming to London in 2012 it is a great opportunity for the league. With basketball being one of the premier events, its time from the BBL to get its due.
One of the guys you played with in Sheffield was Rob Yanders. That’s great news about him getting a British passport and being called up to the GB team by Chris Finch?
Rob is one my good friends, we speak very often. And what he has done for the league and himself is a good example for a young person coming into the league to follow. He has stayed consistent through out his career, always has been a model person on and off the court, and now he being rewarded for his efforts. He has always been my favourite point guard and I wish him all the best.
What do you make of the standard of coaching in the BBL?
Well I think the coaching in the BBL is what it is, especially with the resources that are given to the coaches. I know from first hand experience that gyms are not always available, film is not always around, and the simple things that are normal to other coaches in other leagues are not there. So they do a great job with what they have. I remember playing for Coach Chris Finch in Belgium, and one of the first things he said is this not the BBL you can use the gym anytime you want.
It was interesting to see the success of both Chris Finch and Nick Nurse in the D league last season.
I actually wasn’t surprised by their success. They both are great coaches, and with the resources they have in the D league, they excelled.
After leaving the Towers you made the move to Europe. Tell me about those days and what you found there.
The European experience was great. It was such a total different vibe. From day one till the end. Soon as you got off the plane you were given car keys and a sent to your own apartment. I remember the manager asking me when was my family flying over because all the other guys had there families there. Basketball was so much serious. Because you played once a week, each game meant so much more. And with having the resources we had, it actually reminded me of college ball.
I mean we train twice a day everyday. The 2nd training was mainly shooting but it still was good. We also started much sooner, I remember being there the 2nd week of August. I wouldn’t say the fans were better or the players, just the resources, and money obviously.
Funny thing I heard some say I couldn’t make it in Europe, but the truth we made it the finals that year, and I was offered to go back, but I had got some advise to pursue something else, which turned out not to be so much good advise. But Europe was great, but I also played in Europe before I even came to England.
You finally returned to the BBL with Fab Flournoy at the Newcastle Eagles. What was it like coming back?
I actually never planned on coming back; funny thing is I was planning to retire after leaving the Towers. My daughter was born that year and I wasn’t trying to leave her. But it worked out because they flew my family over for the season. But I did wind up coming back, which wasn’t a bad thing. Newcastle was continuing its success, and it was a good fit for me. I think winning fits me well. Ahahahaha
You had great success with the Eagles are you going to miss those days?
I’m going to miss all the days of my basketball success. The funny thing is I always miss my team at Sheffield. I never played on a team that was totally on the same page in my life. I mean we knew why we lost; we all knew why we would win.
If we would lose, we didn’t need to be in training the next day going over things, we just knew. When it was time for business, we were all ready to clock in for work. It was a special feeling with those guys. Rob, Justin, Bam, Ian, Mike, Locka, HL, Chris, Dave, Nate, Pete, and the rest of the staff.
The Eagles are a great club, my time and experiences there will always be a part of me. The fans were the best; there was never a time where I didn’t see an Eagle’s fan, no matter where we were playing.
Who were the best players you played with and against in the BBL?
Now that I have looked back, I have been in the BBL for a long time. The list of players I think would be so long. But I think a few stand out, Like I said before I have always loved the way Rob Yanders plays the game, I always loved passing the ball to Nate Reinking, it was always a 70% chance it was going in. And for me, I think teams stand out rather then players. I used to love the battles with Brighton Bears, and the Chester Jets.
So what does the future hold for Lynard Stewart.
The future for Lynard hummmmm. If I don’t continue to play basketball I have so many options available to me. I think it would be wise for me to continue doing something I love, and that what have to be being involved with basketball. My older brothers are collegiate coaches so I would love to join them one day. Two mentors of mine are actually NBA assistant coaches, and they have always reached out to me about my future. I also have a Business Management degree so I would follow that path if need be.
Basketball has been so good to me. I started my professional basketball career back in 1999, so its been 10 years. I have seen the world through basketball. So many faces, so many places. I think basketball is my life, and I know it will provide what’s next for me.
Lastly I must say to you Mr Shaft I have always loved your passion for the game. Your passion for the league, and wanting to see it grow. I always loved playing in front of you, you always made me want to do something special. You been there in the past and I hope you’re there for the future. You’re the voice of the league in more ways then one. Whenever I speak about you to my family, friends, or to players who don’t know who you are, I call you “the voice”. So “voice” thanks for the interview, and all the support through the years.
I know we will stay in touch.
BBL MVP 2007/2008
BBL All Star Team 2005/2006, 2003/2004, 2002/2003
BBL Championship Winner 2008/2009, 2007/2008, 2002/2003
BBL Play Offs Winner 2008/2009, 2003/2004
BBL Cup Winner 2003/2004
BBL Trophy Winner 2008/2009
Newcastle Eagles 2009/2010, 2008/2009, 2007/2008
London Towers 2005/2006, 2004/2005
Sheffield Sharks 2003/2004, 2002/2003, 2001/2002
Be the first to write a comment.