Briante Weber recounts to BasketNews how his short story with Olympiacos started and ended, names his best and worst takeaway from his time in Piraeus, and weighs in on why he hasn't returned to the EuroLeague ever since.

Credit: Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Whenever the media walk down memory lane, looking for the ins and outs that can make a difference in telling the story of a player's stint with a club, they tend to present a summary of the situation.

Free throws this season

Points made: 13,7
Accuracy: 77,1%
Place in standings: 12
Record max: 25
Record min: 5
Most made FTs: Kostas Sloukas

In other words, they usually make a long story short. But Briante Weber's case is special. Perhaps never before in Olympiacos Piraeus' history has a player become as emotionally attached to the team's fans in such a short span of time as the 26-year-old guard had been during (but also after) his presence in the red-and-white jersey.

Many people over 40 might recall a 1986 film called 9 1/2 weeks, an American erotic drama directed by Adrian Lyne, starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. Weber signed with Olympiacos on February 6, 2019, and was released on April 13. That makes 66 days or nine weeks and three days.

Well, regardless of how long his stint lasted, two things should be taken for granted:

One, Weber's time in Piraeus marked his career in many ways.

Two, the relationship he developed with the fans during one of the club's dark eras was mutual respect and love. It also went through various incidents and episodes that led to its premature end, like the relationship between Rourke's and Basinger's characters in the film. 

Weber first came to Europe when David Blatt called him. In a EuroLeague feature, he said he used to watch the EuroLeague while in the States and that he had even taken a glimpse of the team's roster on NBA 2K. 

When Weber joined the Reds, the Greek side struggled to gain some playoff momentum in the 2018-19 season. Having finished the first round with a solid 9-6 record, good enough for 5th place in the standings.

But from mid-January onwards, things started going south for them. Five straight losses turned Olympiacos from a team looking to secure the home-court advantage into a playoff outsider.

Weber was brought in, but despite his solid numbers and performances, he couldn't change the team's course that was all downhill. 

His feeling within the team's ranks and the overall communication with the club's management followed the same path. Everything started deteriorating, up until the inevitable end credits fell. 

We used the Q&A format to make the interviewer's questions, as well as Briante Weber's answers, clear and put them both into the appropriate context.

How did you end up signing with Olympiacos after your G League days were over?
Me and coach Blatt spoke when he was in Cleveland. When I was on my 10-day rampage of multiple 10-day [contracts], he was one of the coaches that called me and asked if I wanted to come to Cleveland. I turned it down because of a situation.

When I was in the G League, I was in the mindset of going overseas to increase my NBA value. I wanted to take a role like Pat Beverley. He started over there [in Europe] and then came over [to the NBA].

The whole process of me going to Olympiacos was beautiful. I did a little bit of research, and, of course, once I've signed, everybody was asking me if I knew Vassilis Spanoulis. I was like, 'That name sounds familiar.' But once I started to do more research, I got to see for myself. It was pretty much the European Kobe Bryant.

So, I got to play with a GOAT out there. Me and Billy clicked. He took me under his wings because he was on his way out. I spent a lot of time trying to understand how to play in Europe. He helped me a lot. 

The biggest thing he gave me was to be aggressive. My nature is to feel it out and see how the game plays out. His thing to me was, 'You got to kill or something's going to kill you.' It's either hunt or be hunted. At the end of the day, I love being a hunter. 

You joined the team in a difficult period, as Olympiacos struggled on and off the court, missing the boat on the EuroLeague playoffs. How did you experience the situation, and what was the toughest challenge for you?
The lack of communication, from the presidents down to the last player on the roster. It was a weird situation because my first game there was a Greek derby against Panathinaikos.

We ended up stop playing at half-time, which was new to me. I tried to understand the situation as best as I could and be supportive of my teammates. In the EuroLeague, we dug ourselves a hole.

But the toughest part was not getting paid for two months and trying to hold on. 

At first, it was OK. But then, we knew that we weren't going to play neither in the EuroLeague nor in the Greek league playoffs since we knew we were going to be the 8th seed and Panathinaikos were going to be the 1st seed (editor's note: Olympiacos had asked for derby games vs. PAO to be officiated by non-Greek referees, but the country's Basketball Federation wouldn't consider the request).

It was already set up for that (editor's note: Olympiacos- Panathinaikos playoff matchup) to happen, with only a couple of games in Greek league left.

But the presidents wouldn't tell us anything further than that. It was our third month without getting paid, and we knew we were just practicing for no reason. 

I made a decision to leave because of it. The reason I left was because we weren't going to play and they weren't talking to us with any initiative to pay. They were telling us, 'OK, we'll get your salary tomorrow.' We waited a day, and the next day, it was the same.

I had to make a decision for me and my well-being. As a business partner, we signed a contract. We didn't know what was going on. Where I had come from, the NBA, I never had any problems with my check not being on time. That's never going to be OK with me.

I love basketball to death, and I would play for no money if that's what it took. But to have signed and say that this is going to happen and it doesn't, that's where I have to stand up for myself. 

For how long was the deal?
I had signed a 1+1. I think it was a team option. I received my first check close to a month later when it was time to get the second one. That's super back. Then, I was hearing from everybody in the locker room that nobody was getting paid.

I commend all the players for staying and sticking it out, but that was because they knew. I had no intellect and no idea on anything overseas. Of course, I had Pat Bev, but I wasn't really communicating with him when I was over there to get inside information.

So, I made a decision as a rookie overseas to say, 'I can't accept not being paid. I don't care what's going on. I expect you to hold your end of the bargain as well as I have mine.'

Credit Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Did the presidents (Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos) address the team in the locker room?
We actually had two meetings in the locker room about the situation. It was always, 'Tomorrow, this is going to happen.' Same thing the next day until we had a meeting about not practicing because nobody had gotten paid.

A couple of people stayed, but me and Axel Toupane decided to leave. He had been there the whole year and knew what to do and how to fight that. Me being a new person and not understanding FIBA court (BAT), I just left.

But Zach LeDay and Nigel Williams-Goss couldn't leave because they needed Europe. They were trying to establish themselves as professionals.

The contract is void if I'm not get paid within 30 days. But I received February's payment in April.

I'd rather be OK with my decision than let somebody else treat me like a puppet. Money isn't everything for me. If it was, I'd be playing in the Middle East or China.


How was David Blatt trying to keep the team together?
Just being the great leader that he is. I love him to death. He knew what we were going through and was trying to lead a group of troops.

He talked to us a lot, he was on our side with a lot of decisions, and understood what we were going through. He put the team first, and I respect him for that. 

You were part of a Greek derby that has acquired historical dimensions. I'm talking about the Panathinaikos-Olympiacos game on February 13, 2019, that didn't finish.

Did you learn anything about the background of the club's decision to leave at half-time and the reasons leading to it?
They told me it was a refs' situation and a lot of things that were out of our control. At half-time, the Greek players were explaining to the imports what was going on.

Panathinaikos were pretty much on top of their game at that time, which now is completely different with Olympiacos on top and Panathinaikos not hitting on anything. It's just timing.

I knew I had to continue to mature from situations like that, knowing that if ever get into a situation where payments are late or [there are] no payments at all, I know how to handle it.

Just by coming to whoever I need to talk to, explaining how I feel, and being more understanding. Now, I'm not going to let somebody else talk for me while I know I can actually voice my opinion. 

Did the team have any complaints about your behavior?
They never told me, but after I left Olympiacos, I started to hear what they were saying.

When you go to a certain team, they have to call your last team to get the player release.

Even to this day, I know teams keep calling Olympiacos because they're the highest team I played for and they always say, 'Yeah, Briante was a party animal. He was out, coming to practice drunk.'

Which isn't true. You can go and look at all of my games at Olympiacos. From game one, I got better in every game.

So, yes, I enjoyed Greece. I had a lot of friends there, and it was my first year overseas since college (VCU) when we went to Italy. I was going to enjoy this because I handle my business on the court. Once my court business is handled, let me be my 26-year-old self and understand where I am.

I'd never put going out in front of basketball. Maybe get sick or something like that, but there would never be an instance where I couldn't perform. 

Why do you think those rumors about you were spread?
I really don't know. Maybe it's how I left, and that's fine with me. I think that played a big part in it and how they see me.

I saw them talking about stuff off the court, while on the court, Olympiacos' fans are still calling me and telling me, 'We love you! Come back.' This is who they know. They don't care about what I'm doing off the court.

The point of me being a professional player is to perform on the court. What I do off the court is my business. I'm not in college or high school. 

Looking back, do you have any regrets about things or situations that you could have handled differently? 
I can't say I regret anything because, without those instances, I wouldn't be who I am today. It's all a learning process, and I don't take it back at all. It's a part of my maturity.

I wouldn't be as headstrong, psychologically strong, and mentally tough in all aspects. I stand tall in anything that I did, and I can say it made me a better Briante. 

You had a very solid rookie EuroLeague season, and one would expect that you'd keep playing there. What happened and you haven't signed with any big-time club since 2019?
I believe Olympiacos have something to do with it. They are the ones that will give me the rights to play in the EuroLeague. But I don't believe there's been any good tip from Olympiacos about me character-wise.

So, I had to take a step back from the EuroLeague because of what Olympiacos were saying. They have their way of keeping me out of the EuroLeague, but I have my way of getting back in if I need to.

My plate and my growth as a person from 24-25 to 30 is pretty much what I can lean on. 

Do you know who's been saying all that about you?
I would say it's Olympiacos' presidents. I still talk to every GM that I've had: Gravelines, Paris, Canada, and Puerto Rico. I know for a fact that it's none of them because we have a great relationship.

I'm not a bad person, and I know who I am. I can call all those GMs personally. Can I call Olympiacos' GM personally? Never had the number. 

Did you feel you were being deceived?
I didn't feel deceived; I felt like they were trying to protect their own. They knew what was going on and they were trying to manage a bad situation. 

Upon leaving Olympiacos, you posted a message on Instagram that read: "Hopefully, one day we see each other in better circumstances." Are you still hopeful that you'll come back? 

I would love to. Basketball in Athens and Briante go together. I loved playing for those fans, they're No.1 since my college days. They gave me college in overseas, showing so much love, even in losses.

Olympiacos' fanbase is as close to me as the VCU fanbase. If I could make them happy, that would be like the icing on the cake. For sure, that would be the best thing ever.

I don't think it's very likely and I don't see it coming to anything, but me getting back in the EuroLeague and going back to Olympiacos would be a good feeling.

Is it true that you asked to be released because you were feeling homesick?
I had just gotten there! There was nothing to miss home about. It was lovely. If I got my checks, I probably would never go back to America. I'd try my best to get a Greek passport.

Homesick? I've been away from home since I was 18. It was me going to military school, then it was being on my own in college and in the NBA. Now, I'm all over the country.

Screw home! I don't want to be in the States. I was living in Athens, Greece. I could call all my family back home and say, 'If I'm getting my check, I got a flight for you to come over here, it's easy.'

The whole point of my basketball journey is for my family to see stuff that we don't get to see on a daily basis. When I was in the NBA, I did everything in my power to get my family to every game I was at.

12-15 people every time, just to see what I see and enjoy the life I got to live with their sacrifices.

Many people recall the home game vs. Zalgiris when you broke down in tears after the team lost, and you scored 26 points. What was going through your mind back then?
I wanted so much to help my team get to the EuroLeague playoffs. After understanding the history behind Olympiacos winning back-to-back EuroLeagues and what Giorgos [Printezis] and Billy [Spanoulis] do, I wanted to see my name in one of those things too - help a struggling team get to the playoffs.

From then on, we could have written our own story. I put a lot of energy and love on the basketball court. Sometimes, my energy takes over because I'm an emotional person. Losing is something I accept, but it's never going to be OK with me.

Do my emotions get the best of me? The majority of the time, but that's cool. Off the court, it's all too goofy to take anything seriously. That's the bad part. I don't take too many things seriously. If I'm not smiling when I'm off the court, it's a problem. If I'm not smiling on the court, it means I'm not enjoying it.

Sometimes, it scares people because my energy is so high. I have no reason to be upset about anything. I play basketball for a living. I live in Turkey now, and I've been in so many countries. What do I get to frown about?

When you came to Olympiacos, Sasha Vezenkov was in his first season with the team. Now, he's on his fifth and a possible EuroLeague MVP.

Have you been following the team and its players, especially those who were your ex-teammates?
We had a good relationship when I was there. I knew he was going through some back problems, and he was trying to get back into form. But just seeing him practice and how hard he worked, I knew his time was coming.

It's easier for a player to let his time come when the organization is behind you. They were behind him four years ago and look at him now. That's the comfort level every player wants. He's the perfect example of being comfortable and understanding his ceiling.

So, I've been watching him for sure. Just to see what has translated from practice to the EuroLeague game, I already knew it's going to be easy for him.

I have a couple of people that I follow. Isaiah Canaan, I watch him. He's my brother. Me and Tarick Black played together in Memphis.

But I'll always follow Olympiacos as a whole because a piece of my heart is there. I'm not going to lie. I just want to see them do good, regardless of what happened with me. I love to see the teams that I was a part of continue to have success or get better.

Do you think they will win the EuroLeague this season?
Oh, for sure. Of all the teams that I have seen, between them and Fenerbahce, Olympiacos have the upper hand because they're still getting better. That's dope! Fener have their ups and downs, but Olympiacos have been the most consistent.

Why Fenerbahce?
When Fener put their egos aside, I don't see too many teams that can go as deep as they can. I've watched Real Madrid, of course, but once you take [Edy] Tavares off the court, the game changes.

There's not so much stuff you got to stop. But once you change those Fener players, you get a whole different dynamic of what they got going on. 

How probable is it that Briante Weber will go back to the EuroLeague?
It's pretty probable. It's a better chance than it was a year or two ago, after Olympiacos, when I needed to build my basketball resume. Where I am now, with what I've been doing this year, there's a great possibility of me being back in the EuroLeague.

That's just me being optimistic. I don't know what's going on, but based on what I'm doing, I don't see why I wouldn't get a chance. Right now, I haven't been talking to anyone. 

Would you consider playing for another team in Greece?
I think I'm pretty much done with Greece. If it's not Olympiacos, I don't want to play for anyone else. That's my loyalty and who I am as a person.

But there could probably be one exception because Billy is coaching a team out there. So, that might be the one exception to me playing for a team in Greece. If it's not those two teams, negative.

You missed out on the chance to meet Vassilis Spanoulis again last December 21, when Bnei Herzliya hosted Peristeri for the BCL. But have you guys talked?
I talked to Billy because one of the players he just got is like my little brother, Matt Coleman. He also had Sylvain Francisco, one of my homies that I've been around, trying to help him with his game.

So, I talked to him just to see what's going on and what he needed from my brother to bring to the team. Just trying to pick coach Billy's mind.

For a first-year coach, he looks as good as a player to me. I believe there's going to be a great future for him. He looks good as a coach. 


How do you think your words will go down?
I haven't said anything this whole time. I don't believe in bashing or saying anything bad about Olympiacos. I have no bad feelings at all. It's all love. I had no intention of telling what it was.

It could be all my fault. I don't care. I don't want to stop anyone else from going there. I'm not salty. I didn't want to make them look like a bad club, but I had to protect my own character at this point. I've been silent for so long about what the reason for my leaving was. 

They're in a great spot now. They're back to their winning ways. They got better things to worry about now.

Editor's note

Olympiacos reacted to this interview by presenting their view on the facts. The Greek side wonder how is it possible that Weber says he didn't get three months' pay while he stayed with the team for two months. In addition, the club points out that when the American guard left, he signed a paper confirming that no money was owed to him.

Olympiacos also commented on Weber's behavior during his days in Greece, arguing that he left behind a wrecked car that was given to him brand new.

Following the interview, Weber also made some statements on Twitter:


Check out the first part of BasketNews' interview with Briante Weber:

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Briante Weber

Briante  Weber
Team: Bnei Herzliya Basket
Position: PG
Age: 30
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Birth place: Virginia, United States of America