By Benjamin Bornstein, Project Spurs.com
Not everyone likes Ettore Messina, the new assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, as much as Spurs fans may think.
Swingman and long-time Spurs tormentor, Nets’ Andre Kirilenko, voiced a rather strong opinion on Messina and the mutual breakup between him and CSKA Moscow.
“I think that it was the right decision. A coach cannot do as Messina did during the most important game of the season saying, ‘I am not able to coach the team, I am leaving.’ You are not a player and ask for a substitution is something goes wrong. You are the mentor and you have to motivate the team. You have to convince the team to fight till the end. I know how warm is the relationship between CSKA Moscow and Ettore Messina and I understand what he means for the fans. At the end of the season, he improved by winning VTB League. But in any case, the way he behaved during the spring time was wrong.”
For those who don’t know, “AK-47” is referring to February when Messina informed the Russian club he would be stepping down and opt out of his contract at the end of the season. The coach is a four-time Euroleague champion and two-time coach of the year in the same league and was named the one of the “50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors” in its history.
The two were never actually a part of the team at the same time (both narrowly missing in each other in 2012), but Kirilenko does have a strong connection to the team in his stints with them during the lockout 2011 NBA season and his time before breaking into the NBA from 1998 to 2001. Messina’s first coaching stretch was 2005-2009 and then he was at it again for the 2011-2012 season.
It was time for Messina to move on though and pursue a potential head coaching job in the NBA. He has been long been talked about in coaching circles to take over a team and be a great teacher of the game and strategist to boot.
However, he will have to wait a little longer to get to the top of the coaching ladder, but he certainly has a good shot in the future by becoming an assistant for the Spurs. Under Popovich, the Spurs have produced five head coaches in Avery Johnson, Mike Brown, Jacque Vaughn, Brett Brown, and Mike Budenholzer. This is just another case of the rich getting richer with this smart hire by the San Antonio Spurs.