Erdem Can reflects on mentor Zeljko Obradovic and explores Atlanta Hawks connection

2023-12-01T13:13:32+00:00 2023-12-01T13:16:09+00:00.

Nikola Miloradovic

01/Dec/23 13:13

Erdem Can’s shared his insights on relationship with Obradovic and affiliation with the Hawks

By Eurohoops team/

Following an impressive season with Turk Telekom, Erdem Can, EuroCup Coach of the Year, assumed the head coaching role at Anadolu Efes, marking his EuroLeague leadership debut after succeeding Ergin Ataman.

With a 5-5 record after the first 10 games of the 2023/24 season, Can’s team faces Crvena Zvezda at Stark Arena in Round 11 after a successful encounter against Partizan Mozzart Bet. Notably, Can secured a victory against his mentor, the highly decorated European coach Zeljko Obradovic.

In a conversation with Meridian Sport, Can reflected on his initial days working with Obradovic at Fenerbahce, underlining the significance of their collaboration.

Zeljko didn’t know me when I started working. We met in the office in Istanbul. He asked me to prepare something, and I was so excited that I worked all night. I took the computers home and prepared what he wanted, with all the details. I went to his hotel and brought it to him. Everything started then. He values me as a coach and has enabled me a lot,” Can shared.

Can expressed his gratitude to Obradovic for facilitating his entry into the NBA, where he worked as an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz under Quin Snyder.

He is the reason I went to the NBA, thanks also to Igor Kokoskov, who introduced me to people from Utah. Zeljko always believed in me. And he showed respect in front of the players. I had a great responsibility, an important role. When such a leader and mind gives you a chance, it only pushes you to work even harder to deserve it.

Can hold Obradovic in high regard, acknowledging the challenges of working with such a basketball genius.

You can’t make a mistake with Obradović. A lot of what you think you know, he already knows. You have to be very smart and careful about what to say, and what not to. Because a genius is in front of you. Ideas have to be very cautious. He is the greatest mind in world basketball and one of the most brilliant people.

During his tenure with Fenerbahce, Can also collaborated with another Serbian coach, Igor Kokoskov.

I always had contacts with Igor; we shared information, talked about NBA basketball… He also helped me a lot when we were together at Fenerbahçe. He believed in me and instilled confidence in me. When things weren’t going well, we stuck together. And then we started winning games. Winning is one thing, but being a good person is another. That’s more important. When you trust someone, you grow together. Regardless of the result, you are ready to be there for that person.”

Kokoskov is now part of the coaching staff for the Atlanta Hawks, a team that holds special significance for Can. Ekpe Udoh, a former Fenerbahce player, and another figure Can collaborated with in Istanbul, is also part of the Hawks‘ coaching staff. Additionally, Bogdan Bogdanovic, a former Fenerbahce player, is an important player for the Hawks.

Ekpe is an incredibly smart person, and he was such a player. His level of intelligence is exceptional. He knows the world, different cultures, played everywhere. He will be an excellent coach in the NBA. And Snyder is a man with whom I have a fantastic experience, an exceptional mind. I would directly say that Obradović, Snyder, and Kokoškov are geniuses.”

Can has strong ties with the Atlanta Hawks, given the presence of former colleagues and players.

That’s my team. Everyone in the coaching staff, plus Bogdan on the court. The more I watch them, the more I learn,” Erdem Can concluded in his discussion with Meridian Sport.