«Lthe first thing I try to understand about a player is the human aspect … “If the champion only minds his own business, more inclined to look at himself and to be pleased than to damn his soul for the team, better leave him where he is: it is the translation hasty but realistic of the thought of Christos Stavropoulos, general manager of Olimpia Milano branded Armani, one who thinks first of others, of others, of society, of the team, of the coach, of the group and then, much later, of himself. Happy to work in Milan.
When in early summer 2019 Ettore Messina, coach-president hired by Armani for the Great Turn, calls him, accepts immediately: after twenty years he leaves Olympiakos Piraeus, a big player in international basketball, changes his life, there is Milan that must return to give the you to Europe. And Europe is conquered, on Friday the Euroleague semi-final against Barcelona … and maybe a final to live against the winner of CSKA Moscow-Anadolu Efes. «I reached the seventh final four – confides Stavropoulos – but it is as if it were the first time in terms of emotion, passion, feelings. I would add, however, that with Milan, with this team, I experienced a particular joy, more intense, in having won the Super Cup, the Italian Cup and in fighting for a European milestone as prestigious as the final four. And it’s not over ».
What is the key to such a progression?
“Continuity. It is not easy, Ettore has been able to give continuity, consistency of performance and results to the team. In a very difficult season for competitiveness, the level is very high, and for environmental conditions: never forget that sport, like every other sector, had to fight, and is still doing so, against Covid ».
How did you live with the damn virus?
«With the organization. Let me thank the medical director, Dr. Matteo Acquati, who perfectly managed a new situation for everyone, even for the scientific world. Let’s talk only about the team: each of our athletes, and thus each member of the technical staff, made about 90-100 molecular swabs each. An exceptional healthcare enterprise. Lived carefully, safely and in harmony ».
How did you deal with the virus? Fear?
“Fear no. Concern for my loved ones yes. Now my wife and our two girls, Rafaela and Teodora, are in Milan, we are together, but last year they were in Athens, distance always creates problems, anxieties, now that we are together we feel stronger ».
#Together is a slogan that also works for Olimpia Milano. What is that?
«It is an idea born some time ago, I talked about it with our coach who accepted and supported it, he passed it on to the whole team that interprets it in the best possible way. It means living in the group, respecting each other, sharing rules and duties, on and off the pitch. It has become the slogan, the password, of the team: when the players get together at the end of the game, they circle in the middle of the field, shake hands, shout “Together” in Italian. Let me give an example of life as a whole: Ettore wanted to create the “food room” here at the Forum, in our headquarters. Well, after training, one is free to go wherever he wants, at home, to a restaurant. Do you know that everyone stops? Because it is a way of thinking and being “together”. It also means going “together” everywhere, towards victory knowing that there is also defeat “.
What is victory for you?
“Repay all the efforts made.”
And how do you digest defeat, how do you live it?
“It’s hard, but it fits. We need to reflect, analyze it, understand the reasons and transform it into something constructive ».
How do you work with Ettore Messina?
«He sought me out, wanted me, usually the opposite happens, it’s the general manager who hires the coach. But it is he who leads the Olimpia project. There is understanding between us, which comes from respect. I keep him informed about everything, he gives me great strength to be able to work independently and responsibly ».
Will you even fight?
“Never happened. Why should we fight? Instead, it happens to have different opinions, to discuss, that’s all. “
As a general manager, how do you deal with a player who behaves badly?
«In the meantime, in these two years it has never happened …».
Yet? But it’s impossible…
«This is a healthy group, well integrated, managed with wisdom, everyone has understood, from the youngest to the oldest, the ethics imposed by the company and by those who lead it. Rodriguez’s words are important: “Olimpia Milano has the best corporate organization I’ve known since the NBA”. An important example comes from champions such as Delaney, Hines, always ready to help those who may be experiencing difficulties. Not only that, Olimpia is a pole of attraction for many champions: Messina has a lot to do with it, without a doubt ».
Why did you let a top player like Mike James free?
“It was not considered suitable for this group.”
What does it mean to work for Giorgio Armani?
«It expresses great human and entrepreneurial values. He is very close to us. Its simplicity is surprising. It’s nice to see him rejoice when we win, together with all of us. He is a great support for the team and for the club ».
All that remains is to give him the Euroleague: Giorgio Armani deserves it.
“Everything is possible…”.
It is enough to live and fight “together”, at Olimpia Milano they know how to do it, a shortcut to victory.
May 25, 2021 (change May 25, 2021 | 23:40)
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