Shelvin Mack was another NBA veteran who became a EuroLeague rookie this season, since he accepted Armani Milan’s two-year contract that brought him to the fashion capital, under the auspices of Giorgio Armani and Ettore Messina. The Italian coach, a four-time EuroLeague champion, who took over not only as head coach but also as president of the club, played an integral part in Mack’s decision, as the 29-year-old guard acknowledges in his interview with TalkBasket.net.
Mack definitely brings plenty of NBA experience to the table, having played 456 NBA regular season career games with seven different teams, with an average of 6.6 points and 3.1 assists. Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Utah, Orlando, Memphis and Charlotte welcomed him in the States and Mack responded well enough, but now the 2009 U19 world champion with the USA National Team has to cope with “a completely different ball game”. An injury left him sidelined for three weeks in the start of the season and that was only one of the reasons why the former Butler University standout is still struggling overseas. Eight EuroLeague games, 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists for 1.9 turnovers in 17 minutes are the numbers that serve to prove his hardship in the new environment.
Shelvin Mack described his adjustment process at TalkBasket.net and here is what he had to say about basketball, Milan, Messina and Giorgio Armani.
Q: How are you adjusting to Milan and the Euroleague?
A: It’s a big adjustment, especially with me being hurt in the beginning of the season, getting back into rhythm and slowly figuring out how Europe’s basketball is completely different than NBA basketball. Milan is easy for my family to adapt, coming from the States. Most people speak English and everyone has welcomed me with open arms.
Q: Having any difficulties?
A: A little bit. Just timing, just figuring stuff out. Reading defences is the most hard part because the court is load up; it’s not people hanging out, they’re able to stay in the lane.
Q: What brought you to Milan?
A: Messina is a great coach. I know a lot of different guys that respect him in the NBA and I saw the opportunity to play right away. In the past few years, I wasn’t playing as much as I want. I think it’s a great chance for me to do that.
Q: Who did you talk to before joining the team?
A: I talked to a lot of people: coach Stevens, Darvin Ham, a lot of different NBA coaches.
Q: In your twitter account, you keep repeating “Think positive”. Why?
A: Basketball is a game of runs. There’s a lot of ups and downs. If you think positive, most times positive things are going to happen. Sometimes, it might be difficult, but if you stay on course, good things always tend to happen for you.
Q: You are one of the few exceptions to the rule of ex-NBAers in Europe signing one-year deals. Why did you sign for two years with Milan?
A: I just wanted to sign something stable. I respect coach Messina, I found a great situation for me and my family coming over to Europe. Milan is a great place to live. Overall, everything is good about this situation.
Q: This means that we’ve seen the last of you at the NBA level?
A: I don’t know. It just depends on the situations being right or not. That’s all it comes down to.
Q: You’ve played about 500 NBA games in your career. What was the general impression?
A: That was the best of the best athletes. You got a lot of ownership and in defence, if you can guard your man, you can be sure you are ready to compete at a high level every night.
Q: Did you expect to find an athlete like Luis Scola in Milan?
A: No, he came late in the season. He’s a good guy and we’ve been able to talk about things happening in the NBA and other stuff as well.
Q: Which specific element in EuroLeague do you find most impressive?
A: I know most people because I love watching basketball. I’m a really good friend of Jan Vesely and some other guys like Chris Singleton. I managed to see different teams and different styles, even before I came to Europe. It’s completely different than the NBA. To be successful overseas one must grind every day and keep grinding.
Q: Have you met with Giorgio Armani?
A: Yes, he comes at all the games. He loves sports and basketball and is trying to make the team better. He tried to get the Winter Olympics there in a few years (2026). He also talks to the team, occasionally. He’s a busy man and he’s got many things going on.