Messina: "What am I gonna teach Kobe?"

From Italy, BallinEurope’s Enrico Cellini has quotes from a conference attended by one of the nation’s finest-ever coaching minds, Ettore Messina, and collected a few thoughts from the new Los Angeles Lakers assistant on living in L.A., Kobe Bryant’s transport and going to Disneyland…

After earning a status as one of the most successful coaches of the last 15 years in Europe, Ettore Messina was hired this summer by the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant coach.

Messina is known for his charismatic and irrepressible attitude on the bench but has also the gift of self-irony outside the court. A few days ago, he spoke about leadership in a conference on sport business and digressed on the first challenges of his new life as a Laker.

“The other day I was on the phone with the Lakers staff, asking advice on where I should get a house,” said Messina. “I was told some people prefer living close to the practice facilities; others, like Kobe, live further away. Sometimes, in order not to challenge the incredible L.A. traffic, Kobe even comes to practice by helicopter.

“At that point I thought: ‘This guy makes $25 million and comes to practice by helicopter – What am I supposed to say to him? “Down with that ass, bend your knees”?’”

Messina has only coached elite teams throughout his career (the Italian national team, Benetton Treviso, Virtus Bologna, CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid); he has won four Euroleague titles plus eight national championships and has coached countless NBA players (including Manu Ginobili, who once said Messina is ready to be a head coach in the NBA). Europe was starting to fit too tightly on him.

Or, as Messina said: “Here [in Europe] I had Mickey Mouse and Goofy. Now, I’m going to Disneyland.”

Enrico Cellini is lifelong basketball fanatic and a long-time sportswriter with a focus on Italy and Spain. He was born among European hoops, 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.

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