A new era that can’t be benched

2019-07-25T13:31:08+00:00 2019-07-25T13:31:08+00:00.

Aris Barkas

25/Jul/19 13:31


The EuroLeague Head Coaches Board had a coming-out party in Barcelona and Badalona and the future looks bright

By Aris Barkas/ barkas@eurohoops.net

Coaches in general, have to be a lot of things. Basketball masterminds, tacticians, inventors, illusionists, kindergarten teachers on occasion, maestros, tyrants, father figures and scapegoats, sometimes all of them at the same time.

And you can argue that their influence on the court in Europe is much more important than in other parts of the world. What you couldn’t really say, however, was that outside the court, they had the same influence on the sport.

For many years, that was also the coaches’ fault. “We were interested mainly on our teams and our selves and not for each other”, said Zeljko Obradovic on his epilogue to the attendees of the first EuroLeague Coaches Clinic on Sunday at Badalona.

That’s about to change. During the last two years, the EuroLeague coaches have decided to organize themselves and create the EuroLeague Head Coaches Board, an organization with very broad and big ambitions.

One of those was the creation of a clinic that would attract and educate coaches from all over the world. That proved to be a hit. In the first-ever clinic organized by the Board, almost 200 attendees from 36 countries attended.

There’s also an old saying about coaches. They must have their suitcase always packed and ready to go. And that was evident in the recent EuroLeague season. Eight out of the 16 coaches that started the season, didn’t finish it sitting on their bench.

Not exactly what you would expect in theory, since coaches are presented to have such a big influence on the European game.

The talks about the EuroLeague Head Coaches Board are not connected to this incident, which will be remembered for the “great coaching massacre”. However, one can argue that all those firings during this season were the final catalyst to make things happen sooner than later.

Simply put, coaches felt that it was time to organize themselves on a EuroLeague level. Not necessarily as a union, but as a brotherhood, if you like, of fierce competitors who know the sport inside and out, but also have to protect their own outside the lines of the court.

The fruit of that discussion was the EuroLeague Head Coaches Board, which was unveiled on March with Zeljko Obradovic being the first president, Pablo Laso as the vice-president and Goran Sasic being the executive director.

And while everything is still a work in progress, there was no doubt from the first moment about one thing. The members of the Board are amazing coaches. And that was demonstrated in the first clinic.

If you are a coach or want to become one, you should learn from the best. This year’s line up was Ettore Messina, Xavi Pascual, Georgios Bartzokas, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Pablo Laso and Obradovic.

All of them have taught in many clinics in the recent past, but they were never part of the same clinic. For three and a half days, the biggest basketball brains in Europe were sharing their ideas and knowledge. And that’s a key part of the experience.

And for the members of the EuroLeague Head Coaches Board, that’s part of the fun. A brotherhood can’t be built without breaking bread and share some wine.

The EuroLeague coaches had the chance to spend time together, their families included, talked about the sport and the working conditions under the mediterian sun, while preparing for next season.

It’s not a secret that many coaches felt that there was a lack of respect towards their profession last season due to the number of firings. And while they can’t control the decisions of the management, they can at least demonstrate their camaraderie and support to their distinguished colleagues.

Yes, the competition on the court will remain fierce. But on the other hand, the bonds created by the EuroLeague Head Coaches Board last week can be the start of a change in the status of coaches not only in the EuroLeague but all around Europe.