Olimpia Milano head coach and president of basketball operations Ettore Messina has coached some of Europe’s top teams, including CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid, and spent several years on the Spurs‘ bench as a top assistant to Gregg Popovich. However, an NBA head coaching job has eluded him. Speaking to Jeff Greer of The Athletic, the veteran coach – now 60 years old – suggested he hasn’t given up on the idea of coaching an NBA team.
“Maybe it will happen; maybe no,” Messina said. “Maybe I will be an assistant again. I do enjoy my time here (in Italy). It’s a good experience because you learn a lot about how the overall club and team function and how the club and team interact with each other. I try to do a poor man’s Pop.”
While Messina may view himself as a “poor man’s Pop,” the actual Pop is among those who believes that his longtime assistant deserves a shot to be the head coach of an NBA franchise.
“If somebody was smart enough, they would’ve hired him as a head coach here in America,” Popovich said, per Greer. “To date, that hasn’t happened, but he is one of the all-time greats. I don’t know what else has to be said.”
Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- John Hollinger of The Athletic makes his picks for his “All-Surprise Team” of the first third of the 2019/20 NBA season. In addition to much-discussed breakout or comeback players like Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Lakers center Dwight Howard, Hollinger singles out some contributors that have flown more under the radar, including Bucks guard George Hill and Nuggets wing Will Barton.
- The Utah fan who was banned from the Vivint Smart Home Arena last season for allegedly directing racist and derogatory remarks toward Russell Westbrook has sued the Jazz and Westbrook and is seeking $100MM in damages, according to Benjamin Wood and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The fan, Shane Keisel, claimed that his heckling “was of the same kind and caliber as that of the other audience members in the section.”
- The 2020 NBA draft should feature a deep class of international prospects, according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider link), who shares insights on a handful of promising youngsters currently playing in Europe.