By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikola Mirotic made headlines last summer by returning to EuroLeague with Barcelona after five years in the NBA. It was considered a quite unexpected choice given Mirotic’s age and the fact that he had at least one multimillion, multiyear offer on his hands by an NBA team.
For Mirotic it was a decision he describes as a “step forward” since he wanted to set some new ambitions for himself again.
“There are people who want to be in the NBA, even if they don’t play. But basketball in Europe is of a high level, the EuroLeague is becoming more competitive, the Liga Endesa is being tremendously strong and, for me, this is a step forward in my career. Now, I have to prove something again,” Mirotic said in a video interview for Sergiobasket Vlogs.
Mirotic confirmed that he had a three-year offer on his hands by the Utah Jazz. He was actually about to interrupt his vacations in Greece in order to attend a meeting with the club to sign the deal but didn’t board the plane at the very last minute since he came to the final decision that he doesn’t want to be in the NBA anymore.
“I wanted to spend free agency while on vacation in Greece with my family. Utah wanted to have a meeting on June 30 to sign me as the first player in free agency,” Mirotic said. “They offered me three years guaranteed, a great contract. I spoke to my wife and she told me to take what made me happy. I took a ticket for two days, a round trip, and I left. I was waiting at the gate of the Thessaloniki airport when I started to think: ‘What do I do at the airport? Why am I not with my family? The NBA?’. I said to myself: ‘Don’t do it Niko. If you go, you will sign.’ I left the airport and went back to the hotel. I told my agent that I wasn’t going to catch the flight and to apologize to Utah for not attending the meeting. “I’m going to take another path, I don’t want to continue in the NBA.”
Here’s what Mirotic also said on:
The game in the NBA:
The game was completely different. Games were played every other day, a more individual game and – what I had the hardest time understanding in the first season – is that everything revolves around the stars of the team: training, games, plays… First, it’s them that they have to touch the ball and then decide. It’s already known who takes the last shots, and I did not understand why. If I’m “breaking my face”, maybe I deserve more shots… In the end it was patience and training.
His last season before returning to Europe:
In my last season I knew what the team expected of me. My role was always the same. I was a player who was open to take the shots, who made a ‘pick-and-pop’ among the big guys… I was expected to score 10 points, take a couple of rebounds and that’s it. I felt that time was passing and I had not played the best basketball of my life, although it was very good. As soon as I didn’t feel that joy and happiness to improve, I said it was time to go back and do something bigger in Europe. For me, the most important thing has always been enjoying the game, being happy, an important piece, trying to win the titles and, if I’m not in that environment, I don’t care about all the money, I’m going away. I need challenges, to feel important and take the last shot.”