Drew Lasker | "So many great memories. Winning all four in 14-15 was pretty remarkable."
If you’re going to talk about the Newcastle Eagles franchise's best players, it's hard not to bring Drew Lasker's name into the mix. A player who has led the franchise to a huge part of their success . Lasker has been a Newcastle fan-favourite right from when he first joined the Eagles in 2011 and is one of the most-successful players in the history of the BBL.
Famous for wearing the number 21, Lasker went on to enjoy a decorated 16 year professional career in Europe. He lifted a total of eleven British Basketball titles, starting with one at Plymouth in 2007 followed by ten more as a Newcastle Eagle.
Growing up Drew travelled a lot due to being a military kid and living all over the world, so being able to perform at the highest level in another country clearly was second nature. Now he resides in his home town of Katy, Texas and the UK. The small town of Katy is also where Drew enjoyed his teenage years and fell in love with playing basketball. Lasker attests his love for basketball because of Michael Jordan, he said in a previous interview “one summer in the States, I watched Michael Jordan play against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 Finals. From then on I knew basketball was in my DNA”.
Post retirement Drew is keeping himself busy by working regularly in the media with Sky sports as an air personality and presenter. Running his own successful basketball camps in Katy, Texas with his brand Train Harder 21. Also running the hugely popular BBL show podcast and his own media company 21 Media. But if that didn’t keep him busy enough he is giving back to the community with his charity 21 Foundation.
Your first full season not playing professionally in 16 years, how are you keeping yourself busy after retirement from the game?
I kept myself busy by becoming a jack of all trades, when I spoke to Paul Blake (Managing director of the Newcastle Eagles) I told him I wanted to try different things to see exactly what I was passionate about post basketball. So working with Sky sports in the media, running the leagues visual and audio podcast, running my own business in the states, my academy and working with the eagles in the business side of things along with coaching at North Cumbria University and Gateshead college. It was a lot of juggling, but was a lot of fun to see exactly what I wanted my future to look like.
You have been working in the media a lot since retiring, especially on Sky Sports. Was this something you planned once you finished playing?
Working in the media was never on the cards for me. I was a very shy kid growing up, the turning point was I had to take public speaking my freshman year in college and I remember I would always get this really sick feeling in my stomach. But from then on I got a little bit more comfortable speaking and then you know when I came to the UK, playing for the Plymouth Raiders I did a lot of things in schools in particular the ‘hoops for help programme’ and then at Newcastle I really sharpened those public speaking skills especially having to speak at the road shows. Sky sports was something that came to me and once it came I grabbed the bull by the horns and has now put me in a position to where it's a passion of mine.
You had an illustrious career, what was your favourite moments?
I have so many favourite moments from my career, the first one being my first ever game in 2005 against USA Select, I was playing for the Plymouth Raiders. I remember being at Pavilions and that game coming down to the wire and us winning by three and the place just rocking. Following that up by winning the BBL trophy finals with Plymouth in 2007 against Newcastle at the Metro Arena. We were heavy under dogs, we had lost to them by 25 points two weeks prior to that game.
Then at Newcastle, so many great memories. Winning all four in 14-15 was pretty remarkable. Then in 2016 winning the bbl cup against Leicester riders when we were down 17 with 12 minutes to play, playing a big role in that turnaround was amazing. The trophy final in march 2020 right before the pandemic where half of our team left and myself, Darius and Fletch was able to lead the troops with only 6 guys. I had been out with an ankle injury for 7 weeks and we went on to win that trophy. Finally following up with my last memory of a professional basketball play and that was winning the play off finals against London down to the wire. So many great memories in my playing career.
Are there any words of advice you could share with aspiring basketball players looking to make it professional?
There has to be some kind of sacrifice, if that's your goal then what are you sacrificing to get there because you have to be all in. There's no in-between and just simply working hard isn't good enough. You have to take the extra mile and hope for a little bit of luck to bounce your way. On top of that, I would say not only on the physical side but you also have to be a good person, be of high character because when it comes down to these teams making decisions it's not just can you put the ball in the hoop. You've gotta be the whole package. How good are you in the community, how are you in the locker room, how are you in the organisation, do you represent them well? Being a player of honour on the court as well as on court is what's going to help you have a great career.