By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After playing in Europe for eight years and winning numerous titles including the much sought EuroLeague crown in 2016 with CSKA Moscow, Aaron Jackson is packing his bags for China and the Beijing Ducks.
Jackson, 31, spent the previous five seasons with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow. It was a fruitful span for both sides but the “Army Men” chose to not make him an offer to stay following the expiration of his contract this year. Something for which Jackson openly expressed his discontent.
In a recent interview, the American guard covered a numerous amount of topics, including the differences between a player’s life in the NBA and Europe. Actually, when he was asked if he thinks that NBA is less demanding on a player’s body than Europe, his answer was quite explanatory.
“Oh my God yes. 100%. The NBA is way easier than Europe. Especially when it comes to EuroLeague level”, Jackson said during a podcast interview with Nate Duncan. “I had many NBA players on my team (CSKA Moscow). Nenad Krstic, Andrei Kirilenko and others (Sasa Kaun, Viktor Khryapa). You just look at the NBA-ers and how they treat your body and it’s about ‘player’s first’. In Europe, you have a game in Kazan, Russia then you have to fly all the way to Madrid on a plane. That’s not your own plane. Then you have to practice in the morning with tape and play again that night. It’s just too demanding for your body. In the NBA you don’t practice that much. And they take care of your body and have a kind of recovery that Europe is lacking right now.”
Jackson proceeds to describe his average week program of last season when the new EuroLeague schedule brought much more games on the table.
“Monday is your day off. You practice twice on Tuesday. You practice on Wednesday. You practice on Thursday. You play a EuroLeague game on Friday. And every game is like a Final in EuroLeague because of the seeding. So you play as hard as possible on Friday. On Saturday, you travel to wherever you must play for your domestic league on Sunday. You have a shoot-around on Sunday morning which is like a practice because you have tape and go over drills. You probably have three days off in a month and the rest is practices or games. It’s a nightmare.”
The amount of practices is obviously among the things that frustrated Jackson the most during his stint in Europe. And according to him, it’s one basic reason behind the mass exodus of players towards the NBA.
Like his former CSKA teammate and currently LA Clippers player, Milos Teodosic.
“Milos had a good relationship with the coach so he didn’t practice much. But guys like Nando (De Colo) who played 30 minutes per game? He was practicing every day. You could see his body all bruised up. I’m sure that if he had a buyout this year he’d left for the NBA too. He just got stuck and locked into a contract.”
“And it’s a competitive practice. You have those old Yugoslavian coaches or coaches who have been taught by Serbian coaches. And they are doing 1 on 1 drills etc. It’s like you’re in high school or college. It’s like great players in college, that’s what I say Europe is” Jackson added.
Aaron Jackson also revealed an anecdote story that took place between him and 2017 EuroLeague Final Four MVP Ekpe Udoh. Another star of the competition that succeeded in returning to the NBA and getting an opportunity to establish himself among the best, this time with the Utah Jazz.
“I saw him (Ekpe Udoh) in a night club in Miami. And he told me: ‘Bro, I’m doing whatever it takes to not go back to Europe’. He’s got tired of all the practices. It’s so demanding. A lot of people don’t know how demanding it is.”