Jordan Theodore is the newest -and arguably the most impressive- signing for AEK Athens. The American guard, who arrived in the Greek capital just a few days ago, has expressed via Twitter his excitement for having the opportunity to play for the Basketball Champions League holders. The ex-Armani Milan player remained inactive throughout the present campaign, until the Italian champions decided to relieve him of his contract.
Now, as a resident of Athens, he has the chance to play again for an Italian coach, Luca Banchi, since his collaboration with Simone Pianigiani didn’t end up well. Theodore will return to the Basketball Champions League, after leading Banvit to the Final Four held in Tenerife and keeping for himself the 2017 MVP Award.
He averaged 11.6 points and 4.3 assists with Milano in the 2017-18 Euroleague season. Although his versatility and experience provide AEK with a strong card given Theodore’s resume, for every team it is important to understand how odds are used in gambling.
This goes mostly for the case of Tyler Roberson, who sat next to Theodore in their team’s bench, watching Olympiacos thrashing AEK at the Peace and Friendship Stadium last Sunday. The 24-year-old Syracuse graduate was anything but a sure bet for the Greeks and after the loss to the “Reds”, team manager Giorgos Chinas informed him about the rescission of his contract with the “Queen”. The return of Delroy James to AEK for a second stint signalled the end of the agreement between the two parts.
As for Theodore? TalkBasket.net spotted him on his way to the team’s bus and managed to get his first interview as an AEK player.
Q: Jordan, how did it feel watching your new team from the bench and not being able to help?
A: Playing Olympiacos is always tough. I played against them last season with Milan. I know what it’s like for any team coming in to play against a Euroleague team, competing at a high level and trying to knock them down. It was a tough game for us. We had some injuries and I’m not playing. Olympiacos is a good team. They took care of business, as you expected them to.
Q: How are you physically?
A: I’m good. I feel great, I’m healthy and I got the chance to train a little bit with some weights and running. I look forward to being able to help my team. I believe that I will be ready for Saturday’s game in the Greek League.
Q: How did you make the decision to play for AEK?
A: I had some other things going on. I finally got cleared from Armani Milan two weeks ago and I let everyone know about it. I set the date on when I wanted to sign, which was last Friday (January, 4). I had some offers from Eurocup teams and tried to talk with Euroleague teams, but at the time no one was making any moves. I understood that. I felt that AEK was the place for me. I wanted to play for coach Luca (Banchi). Me and him sat down and had some talks. He expressed to me how he felt and what he needed from me and that was the way to go.
Q: What exactly did he tell you?
A: For an hour and a half, we had a nice little talk: he analysed to me his role as a coach and mine as a player. He talked also about other players that we have on the team. It was important for me to know that everybody is at a family. I’m a family-oriented person myself. That’s what convinced me. It was all I needed to hear. After that, the deal was done. I didn’t get the chance to speak to the president, but I spoke with the GM Giorgos Chinas.
Q: Which was your first criterion for your decision?
A: It was mainly about where I was most needed and where I could have the most impact. Ofcourse, I wanted to be in a Euroleague team, but I think that here is where I’m needed and where God wanted me to be. I wouldn’t have decided to play for AEK if I didn’t have this great feeling that this is the right place for me. I knew that, I talked with my wife and she felt the same way. She lives in Istanbul, but will join me in Greece on Wednesday (January,9).
Q: Which is the impact that you aspire to have on AEK?
A: I just look forward to playing hard and doing what I can to help the team. I think everyone knows what I will bring on the court. I just know that I want to be the player I am.
Q: Were you approached by Euroleague teams?
A: I’ve been talking to a lot of Euroleague teams, but at the moment nobody needed a guard. You have to respect that because timing is everything in the Euroleague. Tomorrow a player could go down; you know how it goes… Ofcourse, I don’t want that to happen. Once I’ve made my decision, I was extremely happy. Me and my wife talked about it and I told her: “I want to come to Greece. This is the place for me”.
Q: Was it easier because of Delroy James’s presence?
A: Definitely. I talked with him, also. He told me how much success he had last year, how great a place it was and about the fans. I love fans, especially the wild crowd like the one that AEK has. I’m looking forward to getting out there. In my year with Banvit, we didn’t get to play against AEK.
Q: Did you watch any videos before coming here?
A: For sure. I watched videos from this year, but I was also watching them last year because I follow Kevin Punter and some other guys on Twitter. I always keep in touch with the BCL because this is where I started from. I like to watch all different leagues. Before I made my decision, I watched some of the games and especially the offensive part. I was really impressed. With Luca coaching, I will be familiar with the style.
Q: You had been getting interesting feedback from fans of many teams since Armani Milan let you go.
A: I think that especially the Greek fans like me. The reason is probably the energy and effort I bring on the court. I know that fans over here are very passionate about players that play hard and fight. That’s how I like to play the game of basketball and why I have so much respect for the fans.
Q: Is this one a transition year for you, given the fact that you became a free agent late in the season?
A: I didn’t go to the training camp with Armani Milan. So, we had an agreement for me not to show up. Now that I got released, I’m happy because I’ve been waiting to play basketball for a long time and now I’m ready to do that.
Q: Was it a difficult period for you?
A: Of course. I wanted to play, but I also understood the current situation. There’s a lot of things going on and at the end of the day it’s business and I have to treat it as such. As much as I wanted to play, I couldn’t get frustrated with myself. I had to stay in shape and ready because I knew that my phone could ring any time.