Ettore Messina: “With Gregg Popovich, I figured out how to keep a team always at a high level”

Ettore Messina Armani Milano
Photo: Armani Milano

Armani Milano head coach and president of basketball operations Ettore Messina praised San Antonio Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich.

Here is what the Italian coach told reporters during his official presentation:

On taking over Armani Milano and being Popovich’s assistant in San Antonio: “I would have never accepted a role just as head coach of Milano. I have accepted because I was offered also the role of president of basketball operations. I’m looking for my RC Buford so I can do just what Pop does: coaching.

I was lucky enough to work with the best of them all. Popovich has a sixth sense in assessing when you have to push or not. With him, I figured out how to keep a team always at a high level.

After five years under coach Gregg Popovich, I wanted to be a head coach again and I don’t deny that having the opportunity to be able to do things with the right people was a great stimulus.”

On making the decision to move to the NBA: “When I decided to be the assistant of coach Popovich I did it because at that moment I wanted to work with certain people, and for a great organization.

Then staying there feeds the idea, that I could be the heir, or coach there anyway. I got close to it, it would have made me very happy.

But I want to eliminate narratives like “it was a bad experience and has returned to Europe”. Those things are not connected. It’s just the desire to coach, and at the same time choose and coordinate people.

And once people are chosen, I will coach. And as coach Popovich does there, I will have the last word on strategic decisions, the signing or transfer of a player. The hope is to never have to use this veto.”

On his target with Armani: “Win the Italian championship and reach the European playoffs. And the results are a consequence of people’s behavior. Nothing new here too. I started talking to the players yesterday.

When I will meet them all, I will start to get an idea about who will be useful for the team and who is not.”