By Niki Bakouli/ email@example.com
One of the main reason Shawn James adopted quite quickly European’s basketball philosophy was because of his love for defense. In 2004, while he was still playing for Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts, he said to Insidehoops.com “the thing I do best on the court is defense. Defense gives me offense”. Of course, his wingspan helps a lot (he has the one of somebody who is 7 ft tall). After he went undrafted (in 2008) he didn’t hesitate to sign a contract with Bnei Hasharon and three years later, he got an offer from Maccabi Tel Aviv!
And why he is right now at Las Vegas? Not cause he wants to come back, but because “my brother (Delroy James) playing with Atlanta Hawks and I just came here to watch him, to support him. It’s his first time here. The main thing for all the guys who are here is to compete and play hard. When you have 12 to 15 guys on the team, you might not have many minutes, so you just have to make the best, with the minutes that they will give you”.
- You left the States after you went undrafted, in 2008, for Bnei Hasharon, so you know all about playing overseas. What’s your advice to these guys who deny offers from Europe and stay here to fight for the NBA, even when they don’t get a job…
“I think they don’t know what the hell they are thinking about. Overseas, in terms of the competition level is somewhere you need to be. A lot of guys want to chase their dream, but they got to understand, if they want to make it to where they want to go, overseas can only make you a better player “
- Now, let’s go to… what’s going on with you and Valencia?
“I swear to you, I saw those articles and I couldn’t understand where this coming from. I talked with my wife, she read to me this article and I was like “what?”. I have no clue of what they are talking about. I called my agents and nobody can understand where this came from.
- The stranger thing could be your wife calling you to ask you “are we moving”?
“She doesn’t want to move. Tel Aviv is where she wants to be. She doesn’t want to go somewhere else”.
- The past season you actually had… a marathon, while you were competing in four tournaments…
“It was a tough year. Our goal was the Euroleague Final Four, we got close and when you are getting so close but you missed it, it’s when you want to work a little bit harder. Coming that close makes you know exactly what it takes to get where you want to go”.
- What really stopped you from being at the Final Four. I know it was Panathinaikos, but what was the most crucial element?
“Oh that gym. THAT GYM, that atmosphere, playing in that environment with all of those people. You were ready to win, we were prepared but we couldn’t win. I think if we had few more calls we thought they shoulh be our way… Things didn’t go as we wanted to go, we would be at the Final Four”.
- You got Adriatic League, you got Israel’s league and Cup. Overall it was a successful year?
“Maccabi is based on Euroleague. That’s the league we want to do the best in. So, if we have got to the Final Four it would have been a complete year for us. But that doesn’t take away how hard we worked for Adriatic League or for Israeli’s league. It was a tough year. If you count all the games we had, from pre season till the end, I think we had more than 85 games. I think it was just a successful year. We did what we needed to do, with the traveling, with the practicing, with the games. Always travel, always travel from here to there and back and all over again. But at the end, it was a good experience. We still are going to play hard, we still are going to be competitive but… with less travel. Not having to go to Slovenia, then to Croatia, to stay over there for 3 days, then to come back to Tel Aviv, only to stay for two days, before you go somewhere else. No more playing on Thursday, flying on Friday, to play on Saturday and then flying on Sunday”.
- After the end of the season, you got to a point you had only four players with contracts….
“A lot of people want to play for Maccabi and at the end Maccabi will get the best of them. Those who will fit into the system, as personalities and as players. At the end of the day Maccabi will bring the best players. And always, the biggest pressure comes from your self. When you are coming in, they know what they will get from you. You just have to come in and play your game and everything else will be taking care of itself”.