Ergin Ataman’s Ambitions: From European Success to NBA Dreams

Ergin Ataman’s Ambitions: From European Success to NBA Dreams

Ergin Ataman, protagonist of a formidable year on his debut as Panathinaikos coach, recently granted an interview to AS.

“I don’t think I’m the best coach in history, there’s no way to compare my work to that of NBA coaches. And I don’t think I’m the best in European basketball, but if by chance they were to give a medal for the best of the last 5 years…”

About the NBA.

“To be honest, two years ago I had conversations with a GM of a major NBA team. I can’t name names. Everyone knows I would like to try it in the future. To be the first truly European coach. I know that Jordi Fernández is already there, but he trained there, he didn’t train in Europe. I would like to become the first European to make the jump directly from here. In my career I have always been the first. At Siena, at Galatasaray, at Besiktas, at Efes, at Panathinaikos. It would be very special for me to get a real offer to coach in the NBA. No one has done it this way. As I said, two years ago we had these conversations. Even if it was something that didn’t convince me. They told me I had to go there to be part of the staff for a few years, to be an assistant coach… But now I’m 58 years old. I don’t want to compare myself to anyone, but with the results of the last five years in hand, I am number one in the Euroleague. Why should I go and be an assistant coach?

If someone really wanted to offer me an opportunity, after what I won in Europe, they should entrust me with the role of head coach. This is why I say that, until now, I have not had any serious contact and I have never really considered the possibility of going. It’s a different world. I am very happy at Panathinaikos. Three or four years ago I would have told you it was my dream. Now it isn’t anymore. Of course the NBA is coming to Europe with all the stars who play there: Antetokounmpo, Doncic, Jokic, Alperen Sengun… If anyone needs a coach who is a star in Europe, I’m available…”.

On the Panathinaikos market.

“Before the Final Four Sani Becirovic came to ask us which signings we should start evaluating for next season… And I told him: “Stop”. I don’t want to think about the market now. Now we have to go to the Final Four, win the semifinal and then the title. After the final I asked him for a few more days. In reality we are calm, because all the players, except one or two, have a contract. Maybe we’ll just make a couple of signings, because I don’t want the chemistry we’ve achieved to break.”

2024-06-17 15:42:02
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