Messina began his career in Italy but then started “to feel uneasy” with his native basketball environment. “Moscow was the place where I felt the best,” he explains. In Russia, we won championships on the road, celebrated on the court with rival fans applauding us. In Italy, this would be inconceivable. In Spain, they are passionate, too, but for sure there is not the acrimony we have in Italy.”
Though, even Spain was tough sometimes to digest: “I wasn’t happy with basketball matters and I felt like a stranger. I was bothered by the fact that when we won, I was Ettore Messina. When we lost, I was ‘the Italian’.”
On the NBA, Messina’s future home: “I am curious and worried. Curious to experience the day-to-day life of the NBA, to coach great players. Worried because I hope I get accepted by others. I hope I’m ready – we’re finally getting started.”
Enrico Cellini is lifelong basketball fanatic and a long-time sportswriter with a focus on Italy and Spain. He was born among European hoops, was raised watching the NBA, and thinks choosing between American and European basketball is like choosing between one’s mother and father. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Italian-language blog Hoop Addicted.