By Semih Altinbas / email@example.com
Ergin Ataman is known for his entertaining interviews and he lived up to the expectations during Anadolu Efes‘ EuroLeague media day before the start of the season.
The Turkish coach was asked about the offers he received in the summer, despite the fact that he signed a contract extension with Efes last May. “As you can see, all the clubs are interested in a coach who has become Euroleague champion, but we stopped it in February, March (when he signed the extension). That is why I have not had conversations to sign for another team”.
Ataman also took the opportunity to clarify some of his recent statements about Efes getting into the NBA playoffs and the criticism he received from Mike James and Evan Fournier.
“I didn’t say we would play the playoffs with today’s squad. I said with two-star player reinforcements. Maybe those two players could be Fournier and James. Let them come, let them sign with us ”.
“The NBA is a huge organization,” Ataman continued. “Maybe there are 40 or 50 players who are extraordinary, but we see that other players now come to Europe, players who played there for 15, 20 minutes and they come here. Nor do I see those players dominating European basketball. In that sense, I think EuroLeague teams playing for the title can easily compete with NBA teams head-to-head. With the confidence I have in my own team, I say the following: EuroLeague champion Efes would play the NBA playoffs and even the Finals with the support of two NBA stars. I trust my players a lot.”
“Every now and then, NBA scouters call us and ask about our players. If I were the coach of any NBA team right now, Larkin would play 25-30 minutes on my team, but they think differently.”
Ataman was also asked about whether he would consider changing sports, namely to become a football coach, and he revealed a crazy, yet true story from his time in Galatasaray.
“After becoming one of the best coaches in Europe, I can’t think like that, but it has always been talked about metaphorically. Can a basketball coach do it? If you get a year or two of training, you will do very well”
“[…]About 6 or 7 years ago, when I was coaching Galatasaray, President Mr. Ünal Aysal, asked me if I could also coach the soccer team. It wasn’t a firm offer, but that interview happened. At that time, I said what I said today. I said that such a thing can happen after 1 or 2 years of training and cannot be answered immediately. Unal Aysal left the presidency after a couple of months. Luckily we didn’t get down that road because now we could be crawling into the third or fourth division; the world of football is a different world”.