By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s what Itoudis said during the “Athens 2019” international seminar of the Greek Professional Basketball Coaches Association (SEPK).
“Nick Calathes was going through a difficult period on a personal level during his first year with Panathinaikos. During a video session with the rest of the team, I caught him being asleep. Obradovic hadn’t seen him but I prefer to not tell on him. I told him to go out and apologize from the rest of the team when he returns. We didn’t ask him to pay any fine, neither I nor Zoc believes in such tactics. We saw it as motivation. We asked him to buy dinner for the rest of the team, in a move. It was a moment that lifted us up instead of bringing us down!”
Nick’s quality is huge and this became obvious also in 2012. We lost Game 3 of the playoffs against Maccabi and were down 2-1. Elimination was close but he decided that he wanted to improve to help us even more. After the game, we had a video analysis. Me and Zoc. But Nick and Mike Batiste asked to be with us. We finished at 4 in the morning. When we finished, I told Nick that he was Maccabi‘s best player. He was hurt. He asked me if I truly believe it and I said that I don’t change my opinion. I continued by telling him that I will say it in front of everyone the next day. In Game 4, he was the best. A minute before the end, the coach substituted him. He went to the bench, turned to me and asked if I still believe he’s Maccabi’s best player. I had to challenge him, but he showed he had the balls to play his best game.”
Itoudis, a two-time EuroLeague champion as head coach with CSKA, also mentioned another story, this time one that had to do with Irish center Pat Burke.
“We had Pat Burke on the team back then. He came to me one day, a few days before Christmas, to ask me for two extra days off. I made it clear to him that there’s no way he’ll get these days since we had a league game to play in a couple of days. Despite this, Zoc gave him five days. When I asked him why he did it, he told me this simple thing; “I gave him the extra days because afterward, I’ll demand of him to walk through walls.”