Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber shared his thoughts on the current social climate in the United States in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
Kleber, in a ZOOM interview, also discussed his hobbies, his workout schedule and his desire to get back on the basketball court and resume the 2019-20 season. The following is a snapshot of what Kleber discussed.
Mavs: You have been very active with sharing your thoughts about the current social climate in the United States. Talk about everything from your point of view?
Maxi Kleber: The reason I wanted to share is because it’s past due for everybody to say something. There’s no place in this world for racism and for discrimination or anything just because of skin color or religion or other things. I think the most important part is that you can’t just see it and ignore it. I think you have to educate yourself and others around you because that’s the only way to make change. We play basketball and we’re role models and all that stuff, and I think it’s important for us to show that we want to be part of change. I’m not a very religious person, but at the end of the day what’s the point of life? You want to make a change, you want to make the world better and you know you can’t do it by just staying silent all the time. I know a lot of people are maybe uncomfortable with confrontation and stuff like that. But I think it’s very important to understand what’s going on and talk to people and be part of that change right now because this actually right now could be a really big time to make real progress.
Mavs: What have you been doing lately? I know you have been staying fit. What else have you been doing?
Kleber: The No. 1 thing, of course, I think it’s important to have a schedule so before I go to bed I have a plan for the next day. Usually I start with working out and since my family lives in Germany and they are ahead of us, after my workout I usually call back to my family and friends because I’ve got a lot more time than I usually have, so I want to make sure I talk to them way more than I usually do. And on the side, my hobbies are playing the guitar, playing piano. I‘m not good, but I’m trying. I’m reading a book here and there, watching TV shows. I just started gaming a little bit. I’m not really good (at that either), but I just try to entertain myself and stay busy all the time.
Mavs: You play the guitar and the piano, you’re a chef, you have some gymnastics abilities as well. Can you talk more about your hobbies?
Kleber: (Laughs). That’s all debatable (on whether I’m talented). When I was a kid I played keyboard, and I really like the sound of the piano, but I just wanted to start a little bit again. It’s been like, I don’t know, 14 years, 15 years, so I’m really bad at it, but I’m starting and I think it helps. I have a hard time sometimes just studying. I did some online studies, and that’s fun too for a while. But after a while I think I need like this sort of interaction like video calls and stuff like that for that. So I decided I wanted to do more like piano and guitar, just to keep my brain active because it really helps with coordination and stuff, because you work your left hand and your right hand at the same time. Guitar is always something I wanted to do, so I just bought a guitar a couple of years ago. I played for a year and kind of lost interest, and now I pick it up again and actually made some improvements – I was surprised too. I definitely want to get a teacher though. Other than that, I like reading. Every once in a while I’ll have a stretch where I really want to read two-to-three books and then I get off it and that’s when I’ll watch TV shows again. But then I come back and read some books. The books where I just read were Red Notice, which is a pretty interesting book about a guy investing back then in Russia when the Soviet Union broke apart. Another one I read is Yuval Noah Harari’s book, Sapiens. I just like to educate myself every once in a while and just do something for the brain besides all these sports that we do.
Mavs: How is your family back home in Germany?
Kleber: Everybody is safe, everybody is healthy, luckily. That’s the most important thing right now. They have pretty much the same situation like we do here. They started opening up a little bit more. I think now different households can meet and have up to like 10 to 15 (people) together. But I think restaurants and stuff are not open like here, which is weird. But basically, it’s the same situation. They’re all healthy. We talk every day. We also talk a lot about the protests here and stuff that’s going on (in the United States) and what’s wrong here with all the racism and all that bad stuff. It has really spread around the world. It’s crazy, so hopefully it’s going to make a change.
Mavs: How are you feeling in terms of getting back on the court?
Kleber: It’s been very crazy to just work out by myself. At the beginning I was fine with it, and I found my routine. But I miss the guys, I miss my teammates. I just want to go in the gym and work out with everybody. And even though it’s not the normal situation right now, we get to the gym, we get to shoot and we have a real workout and it just gets you excited for the season again. Unfortunately we won’t be able to continue the season here. The fans here are amazing. I’ve said it many times: When I just think about the last few years, every game was sold out the whole time, which is crazy. Like I said, we’re really hyped, everybody is here. They just want to do more and more and more. But obviously because of the situation that we have, we have to kind of slowly get back to it and just be careful to not endanger anybody.
Mavs: We notice whenever you make a 3-pointer, you put one of your hands to you ear as if to say ‘Call Me.’ And I understand one of your teammates, Country Lee, has something to do what that. Can you tell us how that all came about?
Kleber: I made my (3-point) shots, and then C-Lee, being on the bench, said, ‘Call me, call me.’ Then it started from there, and everybody kind of jumped on it. It’s kind of a fun story because it all started just because Courtney said my 3-pointers are boring for him.
Mavs: What was it like for you, Dwight Powell, Jalen Brunson and Justin Jackson going out to the Dallas prayer vigil over the weekend with Mark Cuban?
Kleber: I think mainly church men talking, it was very emotional. You could see the sadness in everybody’s face and the hope of change. The whole energy of the place, it was a peaceful protest. It was very emotional for everybody and I think it was the right thing to do and I was very happy that I was there. Because also you got to see going out there to the protest right now where it might turn into violence – it’s not where you want to be a part of and you don’t want to put yourself in danger. But this was definitely a situation where you could stand for the right things and protest peacefully. I don’t feel like we have that big of a racism problem in Germany like it’s here. It’s crazy for me to understand that we had a phone call with the team, too, as soon as (the video) came out. Even though you heard about it, it was again kind of really eye-opening, especially when our coaches talk. That was so emotional for me when (assistant coach Jamahl Mosley) talked about him wearing a Mavs shirt in public because people look at you a different way as a black man with a Mavs shirt. And that’s just so sad that you have to think like that. This phone call was very shocking for me. I even reached out to some of the guys who were on the call because it was crazy, and I was so happy to be a part of that protest. As soon as they said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this,’ I immediately said I wanted to go and I want to be part of this.