Adrien Moerman is generally not the kind of player who grabs the headlines or steals the spotlight.
Over the course of his 203-game career in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, which has spanned nine seasons with six different clubs, the French forward has happily played the role of a glue guy – the quiet and reliable presence whose hard work allows flashier teammates to shine.
He first appeared in the competition back in 2009-10 with Entente Orleanaise, averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds as a 21 year-old for a team which suffered elimination at the end of the old-style regular season, winning just two of 10 games.
His next stop was SLUC Nancy, where he averaged an impressive 11.9 points and 5.6 rebounds but still played second fiddle to the team’s biggest name, rising star Nicolas Batum. Then came another French team, Limoges, where Moerman continued to develop his growing reputation as a commendably consistent performer with averages of 9.2 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Those strong stats earned Moerman a call to join David Blatt’s star-studded crew at Darussafaka Istanbul, where he helped the likes of Scottie Wilbekin, Will Clyburn and Brad Wanamaker make club history by grabbing a spot in the playoffs, before Real Madrid eventually prevailed in a hard-fought series. For the 2017-18 season he then moved to FC Barcelona, where he was one of the better players in an underperforming team as he posted solid averages of 7.6 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Moerman’s tour of Europe continued in the summer of 2018 with a move to Anadolu Efes Istanbul, where he has stayed ever since to break the previous pattern of one-season stints. And it has, of course, been a highly successful return to the Bosphorus, notably when Moerman played in every single game and totalled the team’s fifth-highest number of minutes in last season’s title-winning campaign.
So it has been an extremely impressive career for Moerman, but due to his quiet, unselfish and unpretentious style and demeanour, not necessarily one you that will have particularly noticed. He has never won an MVP of the Round award. Never been named onto an All-EuroLeague team. Never broken any records. Never been singled out as the hero of the hour.
On Friday night at home to Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, Efes was in a desperate situation. Trailing 79-81 with 14 seconds remaining, the reigning champ was in severe danger of suffering a shock loss against a team that hadn’t won a single EuroLeague road game in 11 months. Although it’s an exaggeration to say that Efes’s season was on the line, a home defeat to Panathinaikos could have been very costly – for starters, it would have kept the team out of the playoff zone.
So when Efes needed a hero, who answered the call? For once, it was not Vasilije Micic or Shane Larkin. Or Rodrigue Beaubois, or even Kruno Simon. For once, it was Moerman’s turn to be the superstar, the man in the middle of the maelstrom for the most important play of the game. And, in his usual unfussy manner, he delivered, nervelessly shooting the game-winning three-point shot for a victory that might yet revive his team’s season.
Fittingly, Moerman’s rare moment of glory came on a night that saw him surpass the personal career milestone of 2,000 PIR in the competition. He has now compiled a cumulative PIR of 2,013, placing him 61st on the all-time chart – higher than famous names such as Anthony Parker, Gianluca Basile, Marcelinho Huertas and Fran Vazquez, and within touching distance of several other greats like Sarunas Jasikevicius and Trajan Langdon.
For a player you may not often notice, that’s pretty impressive. More impressive than you perhaps realised. And for sure, Moerman’s spell in the spotlight on Friday night was nothing but fully deserved.