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“Coach Van Gundy didn’t know me”

By Nikos Varlas/

Vasilis Spanoulis has won Euroleague three times, the two last in a row, three Final Four MVP awards and one season MVP award. After all this success, the question posed to him by the Spanish magazine “Gigantes” in June’s edition was why he didn’t have a solid career in the NBA. “Eurohoops” helped in getting the answers and despite this being a really old story, since he played in Houston back in the 2006-07 season, here ‘s what he had to say: “I believe that I was the wrong time in the wrong place. Unfortunately, I had never spoken with coach Van Gundy before signing to Houston. I had only conversations with the GM who was really interested on me. When I arrived, the first thing I heard was that I am a rookie, so I will not play at all and they are not counting on me! I wasn’t in the plans of the coach. I was left on the side. It was just a bad situation. The team leader was T-Mac, there was also Rafer Alston and the coach didn’t believe that I could had some minutes in the rotation. He didn’t knew me as a player. To be exact the coach didn’t had the slightest idea from European basketball and European players. I felt really bad, like I was tricked. I was already a pretty good player in Europe. The first thing coach said to me in my very first day in Houston was: “I don’t know you, you will not play, you are out”. I felt let down. The next summer, coach Adelman came to the team, called me three times and we had some good conversations. I appreciated his gesture”.

Spanoulis elaborated on the details of his NBA misfortune by talking to “Eurohoops”.

- Do you consider going to Houston a bad choice?

“I had just won a silver medal with the Greek national team in the World Championship and I decided to play in the NBA. It turned out that what I had agreed upon, never happened. Coach Adelman wanted me, he asked me to stay, to cooperate with him and start playing. I said to him that I appreciated this, but my decision was already made. The rest was easy, the adjustment to the American way of life and the NBA lifestyle. When I don’t feel good on the basketball court, then everything is wrong and everything is bothering me. When I am full of basketball, then I can adjust, no matter the environment”.

- Would things be different with an other coach?

“They would definitely be. Coach Van Gundy didn’t know who I was. As I said before, coach Adelman called me and tried to be supportive. But at that point, I had lost my trust. I was angry, I was enraged and I said to myself that I will not allow myself to be involved again in such a situation”.

- Your rights were traded to the Spurs, before you were released and signed to Panathinaikos. What happened with the people of San Antonio?

“I have met Tony Parker in a pre-Eurobasket warm up tournament in France. We know each other pretty well, since we were really young and competing for the junior national teams. He said to me that it would be good to stay with the Spurs and play together. However, I was not in the mood to think about it. I had decided that I wanted to play again in Europe. Coach Popovich called and he seemed sincere about believing in me, but my mood was fixed and my gut was telling me to return”.

- Would you consider a second chance in the NBA?

“I don’t know under which conditions I would try again my luck in the NBA. For sure, I would like to play for a team with lofty goals. At this point I am not thinking about anything, but you can never say never! I am not closing the door to the NBA, but until the season in Greece is over, I am not allowing myself to think anything else”.

ALSO IN One on One

IMG_9763 2
“In sports you have to learn to lose”
“If FΙΒΑ finds 150 M, teams have to go there”
“I have been through much, but now I am here”
  • john

    Answer to MA

    1) “this guy is delusional” !!!!! Then you my friend must be watching an other sport. Not basketball for sure….We are talking here for the best European player (MVP of the Euroleague not of Tanzania or Indonesia), the two times in a row MVP of the Euroleague’s Final Four (and three times in his career like Toni Kukoč) winner of gold medal in the 2005 European Championship, silver medal in the 2006 World Championship,bronze medal in the 2005 European Championship and member of the best team in almost every competition he played.
    2) “He is nothing more but a sporadic role player in the NBA” !!!! what ?????
    I can tell you about hundreds of players that made a name and a career in NBA with half the talent and the abilities of Spanoulis, but of course they are Americans or English or French, but not Greek (that’s a kind of a problem, isn’t it my friend ?). And please when you use a word with greek origin you should first at least try to understand the meaning of it. What are you a greek philosophie major ? Sporadic !!!! PS .. Role is a greek word too…
    3) “he is not a good fit…..He is 7-8th man on NBA roster at best” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Whattttttt ???????? Have mercy my friend ……Do you realy watch the NBA ? Realy ? But in the end maybe you’re right …I think he is a 17-18th man at best. PS …Are you RELATED IN ANY WAY with Coach (!!!!) Van Gundy ?
    4) “who still a star in his mind” Spanoulis must be crazy because he thinks that with all the achivements he accomplished (as stated above) he might be a star ? No Vassilis, no,no,no don’t even spell that word. Whispering (in silence mode) …” it is only used for American Players Like those who see you every night in their nightmares from that game in Japan in 2006. How many points did you score that night ? 23 ? whow !!!!! that’s not so good, but you did better in the future… These players that couldn’t even touch you,couldn’t even see you when you passed them like NOTHING, these players that cried like babies when they were defeated (because STARS like them don’t loose), these players are better than you because they are Americans, these players are STARS. whowww !!!!! I REST MY CASE my friend…. You should be so lucky….
    5) And now to the fun part….
    “And now lets talk about actual game” “He is a good Euro player because he can split defenses. His lateral quickness is limited, and he would never be able to split NBA defenses the way he split Euro ones”. I must tell you that (no offense) ever since i read this i can’t stop laughing, but i should be crying really. You people are totally incapable of understanding the game….What are you talking about ????? Are you mentally ok ???? Do you think that the player that “destroyed” literally the DREAM TEAM (you named it like that for some reason), destroyed” every defensive system the american coach played in the court, destroyed so many offensive plays with his steals (yes he does that), “destroyed” every defense they tried with his fastreaks (score and fouled,he does that too), “destroyed” every last line of defense with his assists (i think he does that too, he was first or second in the Euroleague this year) do you really think that THIS PLAYER that made THESE PLAYERS not able to even touch him, even see him when he passed them like NOTHING, DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT “His lateral quickness is limited, and he would never be able to split NBA defenses the way he split Euro ones”. Then how, HOW DID HE split the best of the best NBA defense – The DREAM TEAM DEFENSE – with the best defensive players of the NBA SOOOOOOO EASY…..

    PS ….If you are a real Basketball fan you should Know that in Europe Defense is lightyears ahead from the NBA. In Europe my friend bodies are falling in the court and Spanoulis almosr all of his career is being played hard with every defensive system there is and with two and three players following his shadow even in the bench AND YOU TELL ME that he would never be able to split NBA defenses the way he split Euro ones. In NBA the only ones that play defense is the funs ” DEEFENCE, DEEEFENCE, DEEEEEFENCE” There is no defense just offence…..that’s why the San Antonio Spurs that played real European defence with Coach Popovic won so many titles MY FRIEND and THAT IS WHY MY FRIEND, Coach Popovic WANTED SPANOULIS IN HIS TEAM. BECAUSE HE KNOWS EUROPEAN BASKETBALL and he Knew what he will bring to the team….Spanoulis if not for Van Gundy (who didn’t like how Spanoulis humiliated the DREAM TEAM, and treated him like an enemy of his nation, or else he must be one of the worst (incompetent) coaches ever existed for using him for 1-2 minutes every two or three games (for what ?) and from that sample YOU SAY HE IS A 7-8th man on NBA roster at best). Well done !!!!! If you put Mj or Lebron or Cobe for 1-2 minutes every two games i think that cause they are stars they would have 20 points at least…. Am i right ?
    6) As for the rest nonsense ………

    “His finishing ability is also a suspect” “All his lay ups are blocks waiting to happen” “non athletic combo guard” “who barely assembles NBA game” The answer is that he is the first or one of the two first scorers of the euroleague the last years, and he couldn’t do that if he was creeple as you describe him, cause my friend if you are a non athletic combo guard in these days in Basketball world YOU ARE NOT A GUARD you are nothing, and if your finishing ability is lame then you can’t be FIRST SCORER unless you are David F….n Copperfield . And last but not least my good friend if A PLAYER LIKE THE ONE YOU DESCRIBE, meaning a player that 1) is delusional, 2) nothing more but a sporadic role player in the NBA, 3) a 7-8th man on NBA roster at best, 4) a star in his mind only, 5) with limited lateral quickness, 6) unable to split NBA defenses, 7) with lame finishing ability, 8) with all his lay ups blocks waiting to happen, my god how much must you hate him !!!!!!, I wouldn’t write such bitter words for my worst enemy….why ? 9) a non athletic combo guard, and he continues with Number 10) a guard, who barely assembles NBA game, 11) with tons!!!!!!! (name them just for the laughs) of players who deserves more minutes than he does, meaning more than 1,5 – 2 minutes because that was the time he was given as a player of the Rockets CAN HUMILIATE, DESTROY,EXTERMINATE AND MAKE THE SUPERSTARS !!!!!! OF THE DREAM TEAM LOOK LIKE LITTLE BOYS WHO WANT THEIR MOM then YES HE IS TOO GOOD FOR YOU BECAUSE MY FRIEND THE ONLY THING I KNOW ABOUT YOUR KIND OF BASKETBALL IS THAT YOUR KIND OF STARS DON’T HAVE THE BASKETBALLS that spanoulis does ….Now I rest my case….

    PS… With respect
    Stop acting like you are some kind of Basketball super analyser, you don’t have the requirements, and you can’t shut up or point fingers.

  • Mike

    Vassilis Spanoulis should read these threads at these forums:

    He should see how NBA fans talk about him. He should take this personally, and he should go to the NBA, become a star, and shut them all up permanently.

    One of the greatest European basketball players that ever lived should not be bashed, mocked, ridiculed, and laughed and like that by NBA fans. It’s not right.

    Spanoulis should go back to the NBA and shut those xenophobic NBA fans up.

  • Bandito

    He smells like a PRIMADONNA to me. He should like everybody else fight for a spot and earn that paycheck.

    @AP: Euroleague is that you? from

  • MA

    Not saying Spanoulis can’t play in the NBA, he should have played more, but this guy is delusional.

    He is nothing more but a sporadic role player in the NBA. First of all, he is not a good fit, he needs to be 1-3 best player on a team to really fit. He is 7-8th man on NBA roster at best, who still a star in his mind. Thats just doesn’t work.

    And now lets talk about actual game. He is a good Euro player because he can split defenses. His lateral quickness is limited, and he would never be able to split NBA defenses the way he split Euro ones. His finishing ability is also a suspect. All his lay ups are blocks waiting to happen.

    He is shoot first, non athletic combo guard, who barely assembles NBA game. Is he better than lucas or Telfair? Well sure his, off course, but it doesn’t say much. There are tons of players who deserves more minutes, it happens very day. Stop acting like you are some kind of lost NBA superstar, Guy’s a NBAs 8th. man caliber player, and he can’t shut up or point fingers.

  • AP

    Van Gundy purposely ruined Spanoulis’ NBA career. Anyone saying otherwise is making excuses for Van Gundy.

    Spanoulis is light years a better and more talented player than Rafer Alston, John Lucas III, and Luther Head, and always has been.

    No sane and competent coach would have treated Spanoulis the way Van Gundy did. Of course, that’s why Van Gundy has never once gotten hired to coach another NBA team ever since then in the last 6 years.

    NBA teams have figured out how totally clueless and incompetent he was as a coach.

    • peris

      Of course.He prefered Snyder(????) than the (now)best European player.
      Something we have to think is that V-Span left of Nba and won 3 Euroleagues and 3 f4 mvp awards.He was almost nothing and now he is everything.
      He made the right decision.Now,as an overachiever and if he manages to win the championship in Greece can try a second journey to USA.However,he is a bit old for that.

  • Sunni Roen

    It seems more that he wished to play at home and was making excuses to do it. Why would you throw away a career in the NBA because of one bad experience when there were 2 of the best coaches in the league telling you they would play you? Many players have bad experiences and need to move to a new team to do better, I am sure it happens in Europe too. Too quit so soon because of emotions is not right.