Ettore Messina to visit Spurs

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According to Ian Thomsen of SI, one of the world’s great coaches, Ettore Messina, is set to visit the Spurs later this month.

There are very few clubs that have the budget and ambition to help Messina fulfill his vision for how a team should be built. If he can’t find a promising offer to remain in Europe next year, he may be open to spending a season or two on an NBA bench, where he could learn a new perspective while also providing his team with different strategies. In the meantime, Messina plans to accept an invitation from San Antonio to spend eight days with the Spurs — and his former star at Bologna, Manu Ginobili — later this month.

“I’m really excited to see a couple of practices, some games, watch some films with the team, and of course to see Manu,” Messina said. “I’ve never had the opportunity to see Manu during the season.”

Earlier in the article, Messina claims that he is interested in exploring opportunities in the NBA, but, surprisingly, he’d like carry an assistant’s clipboard for a year or two.

There is a nice storyline here regarding the Ginobili/Messina reunion, but I’d caution our readers not to read too much into Messina’s visit with the Spurs.

Gregg Popovich is a Messina fan, and the Spurs’ extended family has ties to him that reach beyond the immediate Ginobili connection. For example, prior to his last season with the Cavs, former Spurs assistant Mike Brown leaned on Messina to help him add a bit more variety to the Cleveland’s stagnant offense.  Danny Ferry had a hand in that arrangement.

In 2003, Popovich and Messina lectured together at a basketball clinic in Belgrade.

These aren’t real tight connections, but the Spurs and Messina aren’t complete strangers either.

Why shouldn’t we expect too much from Messina’s eight day visit?

First, the Spurs do this sort of thing.  The Spurs, you’ll recall, did the same thing with Kelvin Sampson a couple seasons back. Sampson stuck in the NBA, but not with the Spurs. He became an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks.  The only connection between Messina and Sampson is San Antonio’s penchant to place aloe on the wounds of recently burned coaches. Ettore Messina recently resigned his position with Real Madrid over disagreements with management and, prior to his stint with the Spurs, Kelvin Sampson was forced from IU over allegations of NCAA violations. The Spurs, it should be noted, also brought Quin Snyder into their program in the aftermath of his fallout with Missouri. Snyder has since moved onto a position with the 76ers.

But if you blink, you’ll miss eight days. Messina’s visit is probably nothing more than just that, a visit—old friends and acquaintances getting together for a few days. And for the Spurs, it’s an opportunity provide a little professional relief to a friend who just came through a hard stretch.

  • drew

    are the spurs just a classy organization? or is there another reason the spurs reach out to help struggling coaches?

  • Czernobog

    Messina is a superstar in Europe. He’s not going to have any trouble whatsoever finding a new team to coach. And Real had been doing well when he resigned (And let’s stress that, resigned.) He doesn’t need the pick me up, so it seems like he is shopping his skills to the NBA. Personally I’m a Messina fan. Any team that picks him up, be it the Spurs or some other club, will have made a good purchase.

  • Czernobog

    Come to think of it, if you can get a line on the odds of his being Jersey’s head coach next year, it might be worth dropping a hundred on it.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    This is just another reason to be glad that we have THE model franchise in the NBA, if not all of professional sports.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    I knew Snyder and Sampson had spent time with the Spurs but never really put the whole story together. How cool, just another reason I’m more than happy to support the Spurs.

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  • John

    @Czernobog
    Your idea about Messina going to Jersey next season was also my thought.
    Messina been an ex-head coach to CSKA Moscow with which he won 2 Euroleague Trophies.
    New Jersey Nets been bought from a former soviet billionaire and while they are not doing that well in NBA.
    If not certain i would bet on it like you said.

    Although i would want to see the TOP 2 coaches of Euroleague (Obradovic, Messina) in a NBA team.
    Both coaches are a phenomenon in European Basketball. I would think that in their first year will not do very well but in the second year would do miracles.

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