By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
AS Monaco Basket coach Sasa Obradovic has 15 years of coaching experience under his belt in Europe but he has also seen the NBA up close during the Summer League stints with the Nets, Hawks and Spurs.
Many are of the belief that European coaches deserve more of a chance in the NBA instead of settling for the assistant roles, however, Obradovic noted that while that’s true, it’s not such an easy transition to coach in the US.
“First of all, we should not disrespect American coaches. They know the mentality, they know the culture and the way how people breathe and live basketball there. I think European assistant coaches are bringing a great contribution and American head coaches give them some space, consulting and creating a cooperation with them. In my humble opinion, there are many European coaches that could be head coaches there, but being a head coach in the NBA does not only means ‘coaching’; you have to understand their times, their mentality, the way they evaluate the weight of a game,” he told Eurobasket.
The coach continued the topic and compared the competition systems: “Here in Europe every night it is a ‘win or die’ game, we are more passionate and we give importance to every game since the beginning of the season; there in the US, instead, there is a different evaluation and in April/May a completely different sport starts. What I could say is that, if you really want to coach there, you have to go and to remain there, without coming back. If you stay there, accepting their way to interpret the stuff, you may get an opportunity; instead of that, there are few possibilities. Regarding me, I coached two consecutive years there during the Summer League. We don’t know what could happen tomorrow in the career of a person, but at the moment I am very happy here.”
He also talked about the youth system in Europe, noting that it has not been focused enough on: “Unfortunately there are not a lot of clubs presenting an accurate development program for the young guys. Many small, mediocre societes do not take care and are not interested in producing and developing young prospects. Their unique focus and goal are winning games to avoid relegation for example, so coaches live with the fear of being fired and do not show confidence to their youngsters. To turn it around, it requires a different philosophy, straightly pursued by the clubs. Coaches just represent the tip of the iceberg, but they have to be put in the conditions to work peacefully without being always scared to loose their job. Therefore, that is something that could start from the clubs and, before them, from the top, from the federations, being the head of a movement, paying attention to the players’ formation. Secondly, coaches have to be brave, giving space and minutes to those guys who show potential, which is important to acquire awareness and experience.”
But he also believes that it could change soon: “I think the time is now. Because of this tremendous outbreak, many clubs are not going able to spend so much money to pay foreign players; for this reason, it could be easier for a youngster to get more opportunities to show his value, but clubs have to pursue a straight direction to accomplish that. Results are important, goals are important, but without producing players we will have a cost to pay. As regards our Espoirs team, we have got to be better. We started a detailed program, we are raising and I truly believe that next year we will grow and show big improvements.”