Ataman: we are not doing this just for the show

Ergin Ataman and his team Besiktas are in the spotlight over the past few weeks following the signing of Deron Williams and their ongoing negotiations with Kobe Bryant. Ataman talked about all that to

You must be extremely busy over the last days. First Deron Williams signing and now a possible move for Kobe Bryant.

Yes, we have a lot of work to do. It’s not easy to sign Deron Williams and to negotiate with Kobe Bryant.

Do you really believe that Besiktas can sign the best basketball player of the world?

Of course! Besiktas’ management is talking with Bryant’s agent. We are negotiating with him and we expect an answer. We know how big deal this is for everyone. For the team, for its fans, for the Turkish basketball. We are handling this case with great deal of thoughtfulness, we are not doing this just for the show. We want to sign Kobe Bryant.

We tend to say that Giannakopoulos and Angelopoulos brothers are crazy for their teams. But it seems that Besiktas president Yildirim Demiroren has outmatched them. What can you tell us about the 47 year old businessman?

What I can tell you is that he is thrilled with the recent developments and that he is doing his best to please Besiktas fans. Everything is done for them. Same goes for all spectacles. People want to see stars and after Deron Williams we are trying to get Kobe Bryant too. And since I’m sure you will ask, we signed Deron Williams before Besiktas was implicated in the football scandal. We had agreed with the player, even though we only announced it just two days ago.

You have read our mind…

I was convinced. Well, let me tell you that Besiktas had plenty of important players last season, like Guti, Simao, Quaresma. In basketball we brought Allen Iverson. I think you got your answer. This year the president wants to bring even more players. If he manages to sign Kobe Bryant it will be fantastic for everyone. It would be a dream for our fans.

Don’t take it in the wrong way, but wouldn’t it be a dream for you as well to coach the best player of the world?

It would definitely be an experience, as was the experience of briefly coaching Iverson last season, before he got injured.You don’t have an idea. There were so much said about Iverson but what I saw was nothing short of a perfect professional, who practiced as a youngster. To answer your question, I have coached more great players in my career, like the late Alphonso Ford. I have been in Euroleague Final Four, won a European Cup and domestic titles. But coaching a team with Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams would be an experience.

Pardon me, but very few great European clubs would sign a player for just a month, even if it was Kobe Bryant, having in mind that the lockout could end any day. The exposure Besiktas will get will be definitely monstrous but isn’t it risky for a coach to have players with expiration date?

Life itself is a risk! How can sports not be? Of course it is important to win games and titles, but pleasing your fans with great signings is as important. At the end of the day if Deron and Kobe leave in one month, two months, three months, or the next day as you claim we will go out to the market and find more players. So it’s not that much of a risk.

Source:, interview by Kostas Soteriou