CSKA’s head coach, Dimitris Itoudis, and his assistant coach, Andreas Pistiolis, interviewed by the VTB hall of famer, EJ Rowland, as part of the motivational campaign developed by the urban clothing brand GRRR on 2020, know one thing for certain: “European basketball is under the NBA’s radar. They are looking for coaches, players’ expertise...”, Itoudis claims.
According to the vision of these Greek coaches, we will soon “be seeing European coaches get integrated into the NBA”, says Pistiolis, who believes that coaches will follow in the footsteps of players when it comes to joining the NBA, shares: “I grew up watching the NBA, and nobody thought that European players were important. Then suddenly some European players started to stand out and earn a spot, and then we all started to see them become key players, protagonists. I don’t know when that’s gonna be, or to what extent, but it’s inevitable that the same thing will happen with coaches”. Pistiolis points out that in the NBA “the smartest should be watching the Euroleague. Not because we are doing anything special, but because sometimes a different way of working, a different approach, can benefit you”.
In his chat with Rowland, Itoudis goes into detail about his work methodology and group dynamics, and he affirms that "we criticize our leaders", that is why "I don’t try to aim all my criticism or my authority at the youngest and pretend the oldest will listen that way, I do the opposite. When leaders are ready to accept criticism and to go and make the first dunk, or sacrifice themselves for the greater good, then the others are gonna follow eventually”.
Dealing with a rough patch, media pressure, or people’s opinions... "with all due respect, I don’t care what they say," says Itoudis. “I care about what the group of people I work with think, my players, how they see it, and of course the management. Those are the opinions I pay attention to, and eventually what I see for myself”, he says, giving great value to his work team; “I can listen to everything Andreas says, especially behind closed doors. We can talk, we can disagree with each other, we can have a different opinion, and actually this is the value of the conversation... And who benefits from this is the club, or basketball itself, or the strategy we’re going to follow and that we’re actually going to try to carry out”.
Even though 2019 was a successful year for CSKA, Itoudis believes that “what defines us as a group of successful people at the end of the day is our failures” he continues, “we need to get used to fall, we will fall many times throughout our life, in our professional life, in our personal life, we will fall and we have fallen so many times already. But we try to fall forward, we try not to fall backwards, so we try to learn from lessons and try to make something good out of failure”.