By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Igor Kokoskov made history by becoming the first European-born head coach of an NBA team when he took over the helm of the Phoenix Suns. It’s an appointment that constitutes nothing less than a milestone for the league and European coaches.
When this topic was addressed in Kokoskov’s introductory press conference, held today (14/5), the new Suns head coach explained that he doesn’t think of himself as a European coach and that he instead prefers to define himself by his actual profession and role: Being a coach in the NBA.
“I don’t consider myself as a European coach. I’m an NBA coach,” Kokoskov said in his introductory press conference, held by the Phoenix Suns today (14/5).
“I’m always trying to turn my weaknesses into strengths. It’s amazing. In America, they call me a foreign coach. In Europe, I heard such comments such as “He’s turning ears in the NBA. And he took American citizenship.’ So he’s one of them.’ So, nobody wants me now,” the Serbian coach joked.
“But really, when you describe any players in a professional league, it’s all about winning. It doesn’t matter if you are an international coach or an American coach. All that matters is if you can get it done and if you can coach. It’s probably even more responsibilities for me. Being a pioneer and first non-American assistant in the NBA, first in college basketball and then in the NBA, and then head coach in the NBA. It kind of carries some responsibilities. Because if this fails American media will say ‘See, they can’t coach. We are going to stick with our guys'”, Kokoskov said with a smile.
It’s not about being foreign or European. This is my home. Phoenix is my home and where I work. I feel comfortable. I don’t consider myself as a European coach. I’m an NBA coach,” he added.
While the name of “Luka Doncic” – who Kokoskov coached in the Slovenian national team’s gold medal run during the EuroBasket 2017 – wasn’t dropped on the table, the 46-year-old head coach talked about another European young player and his potential that the Suns can tap.
The player in question? Croatian big Dragan Bender.
“We battled against each other last summer (in the EuroBasket). He’s [Bender] talented kid ability shoot ball. A unique ability for a big guy. It’s not a secret that he’s got a long way to go. There are so many areas he can get better. He’s still very young but he’s dedicated and wants to get better. We’re going to give our best and give my best to find his role so that he helps us win some games.”