Блог Мессина Online

The end of CSKA chapter

As I already said in the previous post, during the season I felt that the team needed something different. Probably, I also needed something different after four years that were really exhausting. We discussed this three or four times with Andrei Vatutin. After the Final Four we talked every day. Somehow we started to develop a feel to continue for one more year together, with some minor changes in the roster. By the way, we were discussing getting Sokolov, who has just signed contract with CSKA. I think it was a very intelligent move by Andrei to sign Sokolov.

When I went home after the final series of Russian Championship, I still hadn’t make up my mind. I felt maybe yes, maybe no. I was leaning a little bit toward yes, but we all needed to understand the financial support of the program by the owners and the sponsors.

Honestly, I was a little bit shocked when I got the news that not only the budget was cut, but a good budget could only be allocated for a team with more Russian players and a Russian coach. Obviously, I respected this decision like I respect most of them. I had one year of contract that I agreed to let go. I felt it was fair not to ask for anything since at the beginning it was my decision not to use that year of contract.

Unfortunately, my family and myself, we had just grown accustomed to the idea of staying one more year in Moscow and we were excited by it. Again, I understand the position of the shareholders and the owners. Though I never differentiated between Russian players and other players. What it is important to me is whether they are good or bad players, whether we have the possibility to compete for the title or we don’t.

I came here to close my house, my office, to pack our things and say good bye to all our friends here. It’s quite sad when you have to close some chapter of your life full of memories, pictures, people that you met, and move on.

I asked to organize a press-conference to say good bye to our fans and to journalists that I worked with for four years. They were always polite, serious and cooperative both when we won and the few times we lost. I would like to thank our fans for the support, the respect and a lot of care for Filippo and for the rest of my family we felt. I had great memories when they came to see us play on the road, when they waited for us outside to give us a good word, a little gift or a big gift that sometimes even embarrassed me when I received it.

I remember the night of Game 3 with Olympiacos last year. It was the last night my brother lived. During my night flight back home, in the early morning he passed away. I had a very clear memory of that game. The gym was sold out. The team came back to the court to thank the fans after the win. It was fantastic and terrible moment at the same time.

In every moment I felt a great support from everybody around us. Through this blog we found a good way to communicate. At least it was a way for me to explain my position and my ideas that sometimes weren’t easy to understand. It helped a lot and I hope I’ll be able to keep doing it in the future.

As for my future, I had good conversations with the president of Real Madrid Mr. Florentino Perez. If everything goes well, it looks like we will find a way to work together. I really hope to be able to come to Moscow for a Euroleague game with my new team. It will be another great experience. When I took over Benetton Treviso, I had a great experience (not an easy one, but very touching) going back to Bologna and facing Virtus there. When I was with CSKA, we went to Treviso to face Benetton that was coached by David Blatt. We had an incredible night in a sold out arena. I really hope to come with my new team in Moscow to play not against, but with CSKA.

It’s easy to thank main people of the club. But I also would like to thank all people in the office. The people who took care of our daily life, the ladies who made us coffee before practice. There are so many people that I don’t want to make a list of names not to forget somebody. These people made our stay here so much easier. It felt like home here in every moment. It didn’t feel like work. And these were the people who were happier than anybody else when we were winning important trophies.

I also would like to thank my staff and my players. My players — for having the patience to accept me, my staff — for doing excellent work every day. The doctors, physiotherapists with Deda at the top. The coaches here. Everybody. Everybody.

It was incredible. I think for Zhenia starting with CSKA as a head coach with this group of people around, he has the guarantee that they will help him and protect him in every difficult moment. This will make his work a lot easier.

I considered the consultant position I was offered, but it felt wrong in two ways. First, it would have been very difficult for me at the beginning of the preparation to understand that I was not really working on the court, that I was just on the side. Second, I felt that I could have been not the right person in the right place, maybe with the risk of overshadowing Zhenia. I think Zhenia has the ability, the character and the personality to walk with his own legs. I didn’t want to take this risk.

I thought a lot about taking a year off, especially in the fall when we were struggling to find the chemistry and when we were all getting mad about the things not going our way. Sometimes I dream staying one year away from basketball. And then, like it often happens, when the opportunity presents itself, you don’t have the balls.

I think you need bigger balls to stop, than to continue. I really believe so. If you continue, you know exactly what you’re going through. If you don’t, everything is new and needs to be discovered, and it might be a bad experience. Honestly, I didn’t have the character. I felt that staying home and traveling and watching games might make me a worse father and a worse husband.

I can only wish good luck to CSKA and hope that they will remember me as a good person that deserved to be part of CSKA, all wins and years of basketball put aside.



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