Credit: Zuma Press - Scanpix
Credit Zuma Press - Scanpix

When Vincent Poirier was a child, his height was a problem for him, however, these days he is delighted with his 2.13 meters height that makes him one of the most dominant centers in Europe.

His fierce appearance (gigantic figure, bearded and full of tattoos) contrasts with his kindness off the court.

The Frenchman, who arrived at Real Madrid last year after the EuroLeague market closed, will debut on Thursday in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Poirier forms a fearsome pair with another colossus, Walter Tavares. The first rival is none other than reigning champion Anadolu Efes.

"Since I was little, I was always very tall, and I didn't want to be," Poirier recalled. "I wanted to be short or normal. When I lived in my neighborhood, it was hard because I didn't stop growing up, and I didn't feel too comfortable with what was happening to my body."

"Everything's better now. Basketball helped me a lot to get used to it and accept my body and my height," Frenchman added.

His NBA rights went through four teams in less than two years (Celtics, Thunder, Sixers, and Knicks), during which he played only 32 games.

"I wish I could have stayed longer. It is the best league in the world with the best players and the best teams, but sometimes it is like this: your work is not enough, and you have to accept that it is not your time.

I don't regret anything from that time. It was two great years surrounded by great people and great players. It wasn't my time, and I think it's normal to be a little disappointed, but that's life," he comments.

However, the Frenchman does not rule out a comeback and says that the second chance might come one day.

"I'm 28 years old. Maybe someday. Why not get a second chance? I want to play, win titles, feel emotions... not being on the bench. I'm going to do my job here, and we'll see what the future has in store for me. Now I'm focused on Real Madrid and not the NBA," Poirier said.

Poirier also pinned down the timeline leading up to him signing with Real Madrid: "The Olympics were on the horizon, and I told my agent that I wanted to play, and if I had to go back to Europe, I would. I was hungry to compete. I was very proud that Real Madrid took an interest in me."

"It is one of the best clubs in Europe, it has won many titles, and I always thought that I wish I could be part of it. I'm very happy and couldn't be better. Besides, I signed until 2024. It's good to have a little stability," he added.

Talking about his former opponent and current teammate Walter Tavares, the 28-year-old has nothing but praise.

"Edy was one of the biggest problems I had when playing for Baskonia. He is one of the best centers in Europe, and it is very difficult to play against him. I'm really happy that he's with me instead of me being in front of him (laughs). Surely facing each other in practice, we can make each other better.

On paper, we are the best duo of centers in Europe. Edy used to play a lot, and so did I. Now we'll have to share the minutes. It is a good and healthy competition that can make us both better at the same time as long as we respect each other.

It is difficult to have two '5's on the court, especially against players like Nikola Mirotic, who can shoot, take advantage of screens... On offense, we would need to find spaces. It can happen, and we have to be prepared for it," said Poirier.

In his last EuroLeague season, he was the top rebounder and now leads the category in the ACB League. How does he do it?

"I'm going strong on rebounds, trying to give second chances to the shooters... It's the start of the season, but I try to help the team in everything they need: defense, rebound... That's what I do."

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