By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
He’s the top scorer in EuroLeague, has the third-highest PIR in the competition and is the only player who has registered multiple 30+ games, eight rounds into the regular season. It was about time for Crvena Zvezda guard and former NBA champion Jordan Loyd to be the guest in our weekly Eurohoops’ EuroLeague Live Show.
Loyd, currently averaging 21.63 points per game in EuroLeague, sat down with Eurohoops to discuss his performances in the season so far, the Crvena Zvezda experience that has been beneficial for both him and the team, and his squad’s “scary”, as he said,” potential.
The 2019 NBA champion with the Raptors also talked about his unsung but valuable role during the Toronto practices, him being a part of one of the most iconic basketball photos ever and his thoughts on EuroLeague players joining Team USA.
Here are some of the main topics that Loyd discussed on:
Being the leading scorer in EuroLeague:
“I have to give thanks to my teammates and my coaches. They just put me in the right positions, they look for me and it makes it easy for me. It’s easy for me just to finish the job. I’m in a great situation, great system, I got great coaches behind me. And teammates who are willing to share the ball. And I want to do the same. I know when the pressure is on me and everybody is locked in on me, I trust my teammates as well.
I never really look at it like I’m going to the game ‘oh I’m going to score all these points.” It’s more trying to get in the flow of the game. Don’t do anything too extra, that’s a part I’m working on. Not trying to force it too much and make sure that everybody’s involved. I’m having a good run, there’s a lot of basketball to be played. You just stay even and see what happens.
In my first year in EuroLeague (with Valencia), I had to adjust and learn how to be a team player. This year, with a little bit more consistent minutes and a little more opportunity with the ball in your hands, good things are going to happen for me. I’ve always been confident in my scoring. I know I can score. So I’ve always put that aside.
It’s a bit different style. It’s hard to say because I still have a lot to prove and I know guys in Valencia didn’t get the chance to see everything. I have a lot to show still.
Crvena Zvezda fans:
“Obviously, you want to win for the fans, especially now that they aren’t able to attend games. It’s great. The fans always stick by us with messages of support even when things aren’t good. It makes you play so much better. It’s always good to have a fan base like that behind you and always look at the next game.
It would have an impact playing at home and having those fans. Obviously, it would help but all teams are playing without fans.
Playing under Sasa Obradovic:
“It’s been great. It’s a lot of tough love. Everything he does, it’s coming from a place of passion. As a basketball player, you got to respect that. You love it. And it’s going to push me to that next level. I look at it like ‘Yeah, he can be strict with us’. But it’s nothing but positive, tough love, passion. Things that are going to help you get to that next level and it brings the best out of all players. There’s the rep that he’s tough, strict. For me personally, it’s what I need. It’s great. He treats everybody like that and it brings the best out of you.
I think it’s good for us. And you can see his passion throughout the game. He was a player, so he’s been there, he’s done it. It’s good to play for a coach like that and I’m honestly enjoying it.”
Crvena Zvezda’s potential:
“We have a lot of potential. I think we’ve shown flashes of what we can be. It’s still really early but we can play with everybody, we can beat everybody. I really believe that. Once we incorporate all our pieces together, learn how to play with each other…chemistry. We can be a scary team.
We are really deep. Everybody can play. We have all the pieces we need to make a push for the playoffs. We should’ve won a lot of games but it will take a little time. We gotto be patient. We’ve shown flashes and positivity that is good.”
His emotions during the moment of Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the 2019 East semifinals.
“The first thing was that I didn’t think he’ll get the shot off. I thought he’s going to get blocked. Because Kawhi has a more narrow shot. When he shot it way up I was ‘wow’. Then it started bouncing and I was going with the ball. I had no idea who’s next to me, I had no idea Embiid was looking like. It was one of the craziest moments I’ve ever experienced in my life. The joy, the emotions Kawhi showed. It was a cool moment. I saw the picture right after the game, it went viral right after the game. I was like “why is my phone blowing up, I didn’t do anything’. It was the picture.”
How viral the picture went:
Literally 😂….Actually, Literally 😂 https://t.co/uhKiYiYvYT
— Jordan Loyd (@mrjloyd) November 6, 2020
“So many memes. I’m like ‘Oh my God, the picture is going viral. People are sending me a picture I’ve never seen before. I’m used to it, it’s going to be going on forever.”
Receiving praise by Kyle Lowry for his contribution in the Toronto Raptors practices:
“It’s amazing. Such a great group of guys, all of these guys. Kyle Lowry shouted me out when they had the ring ceremony, I wasn’t able to be there to get the ring. Just little things like that. Just to feel like a part of the team, involved. We had to come early, watch film about all the opponents that we played in the playoffs. Give the guys that are playing a good look at what they were going to see on the court.
You just want to do anything you can to help. You know you’re not going to play so you just find ways to help the team. And I still have that model now. Whatever we need to win, let’s do it. It feels amazing, I’ll cherish that forever, getting a championship with those guys. It’s huge.”
Kawhi Leonard smiling or laughing:
“He smiles a lot more than people think. Everybody thinks he walks around and he doesn’t say anything. He jokes with us, talks with us. He’s probably not too fond of the media so everybody kind of gets that idea about him. But he smiles more than you think and jokes around.”
– Would Crvena Zvezda captain Branko Lazic beat Kawhi Leonard in arm wrestling?
Jordan Loyd: pic.twitter.com/z7tNRXTLFc
— Eurohoops (@Eurohoopsnet) November 14, 2020
Improvement by playing the “Steph Curry” during Raptors practices
“[It helped] So much. Because that team defense the Raptors had was crazy. And playing these guys in training camp and in practice…it just helped my game grow. The art of studying film is so big and something I still do now. It grew on me. And I think it helps. During the playoffs, we had to watch film on all those teams. You just see so many different actions, so many different reads. And it just helps you incorporate that to the court. To study the game, I think it’s going to help me get to where I want to go.
It was good. Just to prepare and play against the top-level defense, you got Kawhi, Paskal [Siakam], Kyle, Danny… so many guys. You’re only going to get better playing against guys like that.”
Playing for Team USA/Derrick Williams saying that it’d make sense for EuroLeague players should be considered for Team USA and Shane Larkin saying that it’s something “they should think about”
“It’d be a dream come true for me to play for USA Basketball. I mean, it’s everybody’s dream. And I agree with what those guys were saying. I think that if they really want a good chance of doing well, you got to use guys who play in Europe. That’s the highest level [outside the NBA].
We’re used to the game. The game is so different. People don’t understand but it’s so different. There are a lot of little things that are so different from playing back home and playing here. I think that guys are used to it, especially those guys who are playing a long time over here so… of course give them a shot. They should be the first ones that they look at. They are used to the game, the rules, all different things.
You saw what happened in the last World Cup. It was tough. Obviously, I have nothing against the NBA guys, they are the best players in the world for sure. I always tell that. But it’s just a different game.
I’d love to play.
I don’t know how you could make a merge. But some EuroLeague players? For sure. I think it would be great. It would help, for sure. They know the game. And, obviously, we can hoop! My friends back home don’t get a chance to see the game as much and certain things.”
How “fair” the NBA is as a business for some players:
“You can’t go off and say “it isn’t fair.” In general, life isn’t fair. But a lot goes into it. I have so many guys and friends back home that are looking for a job, just in Europe. It’s all about who sees you, the chance you get to play, and the fit. You got to be the right fit. There are a lot of guys who should be in the league right now who aren’t. And it’s all based on the fit, availability, right coach, right system. It changes a lot. A lot goes into it. I definitely still think it’s a fair league but I also think that there are a lot of guys who aren’t in the NBA that probably should be.”