By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Beverley, whom most in Greece know from his term in Olympiacos in the 2009-10 season, has been having, for some years now, the career he dreamt of!
The 28-year-old playmaker is a starter for the Houston Rockets, has taken root in Texas after his move there from Spartak Saint Petersburg halfway through the 2013 season, and is enjoying the respect of his teammates and the whole organization in Houston.
He has singed a multi-year contract, he’s in the starting line-up next to superstar James Harden, and with the amazing defense and prolific nature that characterize his game, he has imposed himself at the top level and is considered one of the most useful and most dynamic point guards in the league.
He recalled his time in Greece and in Olympiacos, the times when he didn’t lose by anyone on 2K on Playstation, and he showed how much he still appreciates and holds dear his experience in Europe.
He describes Greece as a “basketball school” for him, advises young Americans to try their luck in Europe in order to become better players, describes Papaloukas as one of the smartest playmakers he’s ever seen and, of course, he… hasn’t forgotten the bad words he learned while he was in Greece!
Enjoy the interview of the University of Arkansas graduate on Eurohoops.net!
“That was five years ago. I had the good fortune of playing for one of the best teams in the history of European basketball. Josh Childress, Linas Kleiza, Papaloukas, Teodosic were only some of my teammates. It was truly a learning experience for me. It really helped me understand what it means to work hard. I made friends for life there, like Teodosic and Papaloukas. I believe that my experience in Greece helped me reach the point where I am at right now.”
Olympiacos had a very good roster that season. Who were your favorite teammates?
“Aside from my American compatriots, like Childress or Von Wafer, I had good relations with Milos, Papaloukas and Big Sofo, whom I still try to watch. I was so young at that time and I didn’t know the style that European basketball was played in. They helped me, they took care of me and made me feel comfortable.
If I asked you to choose the toughest opponent that you had in your entire experience in Europe?
“I’d say Bo McCalebb. Also, when I went to Russia, it was Milos with whom we were rivals. The same goes for Diamantidis. All of them are among the best guards in history.”
What is the best experience you had in the season you played in Greece for Olympiacos?
“The Final Four of the Euroleague and the final against Ricky Rubio’s Barcelona! Coach Giannakis gave me the opportunity to play in the final in the second half and fight. They were a really good team at that time, with good guards, shooters and big men. I tried to turn the game around, but in the end they got the win and the title. But it was still a great experience.”
You saw many great point guards in Europe, teammates and opponents. The best?
“I’d pick Theodoros Papaloukas. The guy didn’t shoot much, but he was so smart and had such knowledge about basketball… The perception of the game that he had was one of the best I’ve ever seen in a player in my life. I learned a lot from him. He wasn’t the easiest of players to play alongside them, but he did everything to win and that’s something you have to respect.”
You’re one of those players whose European experience helped you get a guaranteed multi-year deal in the NBA. Would you advise young American players who are looking for a chance to get a contract in the best league in the world, to pursue that through Europe, where they can develop their game?
“Yes. From the experience that I had I can say that, the younger you go to play in Europe, the more you’re going to be rewarded in the future. For me, playing in Europe and in Greece was a basketball school. I learned how to train hard, how to prepare, how to play basketball in the right way. The sooner a player goes to play in Europe, the better.”
Do you remember any bad words from your time in Greece?
“Come on, that’s easy. Malakas!”