Basketball players are also human beings, and an important factor when career moves are considered is whether they could feel comfortable off the court – especially when they also have a family to consider. Fortunately for Adrien Moerman, who is married with a 12-year-old daughter, there were no problems in that respect when he was given the chance to join Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the summer. The French forward first played in Turkey when he spent a season with Banvit and then moved to Darussafaka Tefken Istanbul, and he had no hesitation whatsoever in returning to a country and a city he finds captivating.
"I love Turkey," Moerman gushed. "And I love Istanbul. Turkish people are family people and they always want to help you. Even though not everybody speaks English, whenever you need anything at all they will try to help you with a big smile on the face. In some other countries, it's not always like that. In France, for example, if you ask someone for help, it's sometimes yes, sometimes no. But Turkish people are very open and my wife and I love people like this."
"I think when you live in a country you need to know what happened there in the past, especially a place like this with such an incredible history."
The friendliness of the locals is by no means the only aspect of Turkey appreciated by Moerman, who has a keen interest in history and takes every opportunity his schedule to discover the sights and sounds of Istanbul.
"When I played for Banvit, whenever I had some time off I used to take the boat with A.J. Slaughter, one of my teammates, and visit some of the monuments in Istanbul," Moerman said. "There is so much history in Istanbul and I think when you live in a country you need to know what happened there in the past, especially a place like this with such an incredible history. When you understand the past, you feel more connected to the place.
"In pre-season we have more time. When the season gets starts it's difficult because we have a busy schedule and the traffic in Istanbul doesn't make it easier! It can be a bit crazy. But when I get a day off, I try to go somewhere with my family, and by now I know Istanbul pretty well. If people ask me what a monument is, sometimes I know the answer! And most of the time I don’t even need to use the GPS to find my way around the city!"
The knowledge Moerman has acquired through his exploration of the city has seen him become an amateur tour guide for his teammates as well as visiting friends and family members and he is always happy to expose them to everything that Istanbul has to offer.
"Yesterday I took Rodrigue [Beaubois] for a Turkish breakfast. He had never had one before and he wanted to try it, so I took him to a place in Bebek, a beautiful district near the Bosphorus on the European side. It's one of my favorite places in Istanbul," Moerman said. "The breakfast was great – yogurt, honey, cheese, Turkish tea, all the different types of bread…it’s amazing. They bring so much food you can never possibly finish it all, even a big guy like me! Rodrigue loved it and now he wants to go back!
Moerman has a kindred spirit with his wife, who also loves discovering new places and can often be found shopping in the markets near the famous Grand Bazaar. And in such a massive city, it's not surprising to learn that the Moerman family has not come close to visiting all the sights.
"My wife is like me, she wants to see everything," he said. "There are so many more things we want to do in Istanbul. At the end of the season, we will stay here and spend some time visiting new places – on my phone Notes I have a list of all the places I want to go!"
Having grown up in Paris, Moerman's basketball career has allowed him to live in two more great European cities in Barcelona and Istanbul and he is grateful for those opportunities to broaden his horizons.
"I’m very lucky, I've had great experiences," he acknowledged. "It's tough for my family sometimes; my daughter was sad to leave Barcelona in the summer because she had made some good friends and was very happy there. It's tough on her, but she understands and she has been able to go back to the same school as last time we lived here. And my wife understands that basketball doesn't keep on paying you until you're 45 or 50, so you have to take the opportunities when they come.
"When you move to a new place, it's a new life and a new challenge."
"When you move to a new place, it's a new life and a new challenge. But I'm open to anything. If I had the chance to play in Russia, I would go there for sure. I like to understand new places and new cultures, new food, everything."
That said, he's in no hurry to leave Istanbul and would be perfectly prepared to lay down more roots in the city with the help of the hospitable Turkish people.
"It’s simple," he concluded. "In Turkey, people help you to be happy."
And there are not many more important things than that.