Gustavo Ayon Zenit Saint Petersburg
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

Recently retired Mexican big man and two-time EuroLeague champion with Real Madrid Gustavo Ayon compared his runs in both the NBA and in European basketball, via Eurohoops:

“I felt an immense joy that I cannot explain to you with words [when I signed in the NBA]. You have to feel it. I said ‘wow, I achieved what I dreamed of all my life’. The NBA is wonderful. Four teams in three years. But I didn’t want to tour the NBA from team to team.

Maybe you play with one team and you don’t play with another. It was an uncertainty. An emotional and sports instability. I didn’t want that. I could’ve been in the NBA for 15 years but what I wanted was to play basketball. I had to be taken off the plane once because of a trade.

When I arrived in Madrid, I played at the highest level; the EuroLeague is at a very close level to the NBA. It doesn’t have the exposure of the NBA when it comes to marketing and entertainment but sports-wise it’s very close. I wanted to be there, to be a part of it. I was an important player on the team in all the titles I have won.”