A Near Miss: Sergio Scariolo’s Journey to Becoming an NBA Head Coach

A Near Miss: Sergio Scariolo’s Journey to Becoming an NBA Head Coach

Training in the NBA without being from the US is a true feat in the world of basketball. Only five have achieved it so far: Steve Nash, Jay Triano, Igor Kokoskov, Darko Rajakovic and Jordi Fernández. Sergio Scariolo was about to be the sixth, although he has hit the post several times: starting in 2019 he was an assistant coach of the Toronto Raptors and, in 2021, a plague of Covid-19 throughout the team’s technical organization chart made him feel on the starting bench during a regular season game. However, Scariolo was one step away from being the conductor of the Raptors themselves. It was in 2023, when the team management opened a process to have a new coach. The Italian coach spoke about the casting process and how Scariolo himself was one step away from leaving the National Team to pack his bags and cross the pond. ‘The Wardrobe’ with Quique Peinado, in a talk that demonstrates the extent to which a small breath of wind decides the destiny of your life.

You can see here Quique Peinado’s complete interview with Sergio Scariolo in ‘El Vestuario’

Hey, Jordi Fernández has worked with you, Chus Mateo has worked with you, Ibon Navarro has worked with you, Txus Vidorreta has worked with you, a lot of coaches who are at the highest level have worked with you. Does that make you feel good or older? how does it make you feel?

Well, honestly I don’t feel old at all. It’s true that then you think about the numbers, you think about what you can keep and you say, “damn, I don’t know,” but then at the level of energy, at the level of way of living, way of seeing things, everything, it’s a word that does not fit with my way of perceiving myself, but I do feel good because it is all people with whom you maintain a relationship, you have established ties that do not break and you have pride. Really the example of Jordi, when they beat us with Canada in the World Cup, I felt sadness at the moment I congratulated him on the victory, but right after, seeing him celebrate taking on an already important international dimension, I felt pleasure and pride and said: “Well, hey, if it has to happen with someone, it better happen with someone I consider one of my own, It has been very much one of mine and in fact there are now starting to be many because between the Italian league, the NBA, the ACB… in the United States they talk about a tree and I don’t dare, it seems to me an expression that can be talked about Popovich, but it’s a little the concept of the branches that then produce much more beautiful fruits and flowers from the trunk itself. I’m a little afraid to use that expression, but when I think that I have my first assistant at Virtus (in Bologna) in the last two years, that he is first by far, that they are about to rise… see the success of those who have been with me gives me joy, it even gives me energy and it gives me motivation because you say: “Well, maybe one little thing has helped them to be so good.”

Now that we see Jordi Fernández Bueno has become Head Coach of the NBA, is this something that you have left to accomplish or not?

It’s never really been something I’ve thought about as possible. It is true that in the period between mid-April and mid-June of last year, a situation occurred where the Raptors leadership team They came to Bologna to do the first formal interview as a candidate for the role of head coach. They told me that we had been finalists for the final round of interviews in which I could not travel to Toronto, because it was the week of the League final. We did the interview online, it was a whole afternoon, from 3 in the afternoon to 8:15 with different things, very interesting as well, in which I obviously tried to give my vision of things, but it is never the same as when you have direct personal contact. Then the next week there came a time when I knew it was between me and Darko (Rajakovic), who in the end was chosen. The reality is that I received a previous call saying: “Hey, it looks like it’s you.”

Was that said to you?

Yeah, a journalist told me, “Hey, it looks like they’re going to pick now, announce it, and it could be you.” I was watching, I remember the Champions League match, the Champions League final of Inter Milan, against Manchester City, with my team, with the team there, we had set up a room in the hotel, because we were between the first and the second game of the League final. We had lost the first, we played the second the next day. And well, I was there watching it, obviously with the tension that your team is playing in the Champions League final, and you get these messages and you say: “Well, what a moment.”. And then I get a call again saying: “Bobby Western called me, he told me that it was a complicated decision, so and so, but they decided on Darko.” And well, we didn’t have it and we don’t have it, nor have they taken away something I had.

But it’s impossible that you didn’t have a lot of hope for that to happen.

Of course not. Let’s see, I have been in the NBA for three years, I know exactly what the NBA is. That is to say, I am not like the child who goes to a toy store without knowing what he is going to find. For better and for worse. Obviously the experience of being an NBA coach was irrefutable, for many reasons. Between them also the economic one, let’s not be little brothers of charity. So I haven’t lived it either since I was a child, I dreamed about this, I lived it with a professional opportunity that I would have loved, obviously, to do if it presented itself and since it hasn’t presented itself, I have developed a capacity to forget. Obviously there’s a moment of disappointment where you say, “Holy shit, that’s a shame, right?” But then, I’ve really developed this ability to say, “Let’s look at the glass half full now, what it means to not have had it.

But then Inter won, of course, that’s it.

Then he hit, that was a hard blow.

There yes, what a day

Also in that way, after having had it in hand, missing goals that…

What a day, Sergio, there are days that don’t happen.

Exactly, I went to bed saying: “Well look, this is one of those days when it’s really better not to get out of bed” (smiles sarcastically).

Sure, but you were the first NBA coach, circumstantially, but you were.

For about 10 days.

And that team gave you that ball and they gave you a lot of affection, after the game, those images of a locker room that seemed certainly excited that you had been head coach and that you had achieved it.

Yes, yes, it was nice, really, because really I perceived great respect, a great ability to understand that now my role for a time had to be different and it was nice, really. Because of Nick Nurse’s COVID, unfortunately, but hey, nothing happened to him either. And yes, it was nice that just the teams that came back to look for meobviously Milwaukee and Philadelphia, for the role of Lead Assistant or Associated Coach, whatever you want to call it, second, as they would say here, and Toronto for the role of first coachthey were just teams that I had been on – Toronto – or trained by first trainers with whom he had lived three years. Many times The teams’ decision-making criteria for choosing a coach is, to say the least, curious. When you have met one, you know what they are about, what they can give you, so when a team or a coach that you have lived with comes back to look for you and thinks that you can help them in an effective way, it is a satisfaction, That is something that stays with you. Those who know about basketball, some of those who have been with you and have seen what you know how to do, in the NBA, which is a very competitive world with a lot of competition, have told you again, hey, I would like you to come back… or In the case of Toronto, we are considering you as one of the few who could do this job.

2024-06-14 17:14:50
#days #bed #Relief


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