A few weeks ago, whenErgin Ataman led Anadolus Efes to a second straight Euroleague title, the Turkish strategist joked about his NBA dream:
Maybe after 3 consecutive finals, Gregg Popovich will say to himself: ‘Let’s take this European coach in the NBA.’
A European coach in the NBA, we seem to be still very far from it. If the players of the Old Continent now shine in the biggest league, for the coaches it’s a whole different story. We are still waiting for the first European coach, trained in Europe, at the head of an NBA franchise and Ataman is one of the best profiles, he who has won everything or almost everything in club. But he is quite lucid about his chances.
“My aspirations for the NBA are diminishing. I observe that the NBA is a different world. They have a different perception of European basketball coaches,” says Ataman. “As a coach who is very successful in the EuroLeague and has won titles for the past four years, I don’t think I have anything to prove to the NBA scouts. What matters most to me is to be successful and to make the Turks happy. I always say that when an offer comes from an NBA team, I won’t hesitate, but I see they don’t have that intention. They just say, ‘You’ll be an assistant here for a few years'”
Indeed, the rare European coaches to go to the NBA are confined for the moment to an assistant role, and as for female coaches, it will probably be necessary to wait a few more years before an NBA franchise takes the plunge. Ettore Messina seemed destined for a job a few years ago, but after spending several seasons as Gregg Popovich’s assistant, he didn’t get an offer.
“To be honest I find it difficult, but if anyone wants we can sit down and have a chat. » Ataman