Sergio Scariolo in the past few hours was a guest of The Crossover, the EuroLega podcast. The current coach of the Virtus Bologna spoke on many topics, including his experience in the NBA as an assistant to Nick Nurse at the Toronto Raptors, with whom he won the title in 2019.
“It was an important experience, for one thing because it was different to coach in a league where the players are in charge.” explained Scariolo. The concept of “Players League” is now widespread and in the NBA, thanks largely to media attention more on the players than on the teams, has exploded in recent years to the nth degree.
Scariolo related that. Kawhi Leonard, the team’s star and future Finals MVP, in the early months would not even speak to him to say hello. However, a relationship, that between the Brescia coach and Kawhi, developed over the course of the season:
You can feel that it’s a Players League. Especially if you have a superstar on your team. It’s hard to coach in the NBA because you have to find a way to get respect. I remember in my first months in Toronto, Kawhi wouldn’t even say hello to me. Or maybe he would say “hello,” but half-heartedly.. During the Playoffs, however, he would come to me before every game. He wanted to sit with me for 10 minutes and discuss every aspect of the competition we were about to face. So there was evolution in our relationship, but at first I thought, “Wow!”
Kyle Lowry? Now I would say he’s one of my best friends in the NBA, but in the beginning it was “Wow!” with him, too. Let’s say he’s a guy who, to put it mildly, wants to show his status on the team. He is lovely, I love him.