Ettore Messina wasn’t exactly an unknown when he joined the Spurs organization. He had one of the most illustrious careers of any European coach in history and had a connection with Manu Ginobili after coaching him in Italy. Spurs fans either knew of him or were quickly convinced of his competence thanks to his credentials.
Yet other than the fact that he definitely could coach, we didn’t really knew much about him. Old interviews provided a glimpse into his coaching philosophy and Manu shared some anecdotes about their time together, painting Messina as a disciplinarian who wanted his teams to play the right way. That’s most of the information we had on him.
The below video from the NBA Coaches Association will change that. In it Messina tells his story in his own words, talks about what he values the most as a coach and even discusses his time in San Antonio. It’s definitely worth a watch:
After watching the video it’s easier to see how two basketball lifers like Gregg Popovich and Messina connected. Their philosophies are similar too. “The two more important things is that a team has to be willing to move the ball offensively and it has to be willing to work their butts off defensively,” Messina says. It isn’t hard to imagine Pop saying something similar.
Messina also talks about his origins, his backup plan if coaching didn’t pan out, his love of tennis and traveling and what motivated him to make the jump to the NBA. He also discusses how an inclusive offense can lead to better defense. (“in modern basketball, if players don’t touch the ball offensively — I’m not saying shooting the ball, just touching it, having a feel that they are part of the offense — defensively, they lose their focus.)
With Pop likely on the final stage of his coaching career, Messina has as good a chance as anyone of being his successor. The more he reveals about himself, the more he seems like a great fit for the job.
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