Ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s game against Khimki in Euroleague Gamdeday 23 action on Wednesday night at 21:05 Israel time at Yad Eliyahu, Yakov Meir, basketball journalist for Israel HaYom Newspapeer spoke with the Jonas Jerebko about his season to date, the NBA and much more!
How are you?
“I’m doing good. We are struggling a little bit in the Euroleague but we are doing good in the VTB. The Euroleague is the main goal we just got to come ready for tomorrow. We have a lot of injuries but we are trying to prevail.”
Chances over the final part of the season?
“I know we can play very good. When we play well and play together we can beat any team. If we don’t, we can lose against any team. That’s the beauty of Euroleague as there are a lot of good teams and you have to always be on your “A” game. We have very good players and if we play the right way we can definitely make a run at the end of the season.”
You’ve played with many great NBA players, but where do you list Alexey Shved?
“It’s a tough question and I would have to do that after the season. But I have played with a lot of great players and he’s one of them.”
How does a child from Sweden become a basketball player and an NBA player?
“I grew up in Sweden and obviously basketball was not the first choice. But my mother, father and uncles played so I come from a basketball family so that’s how I started playing. I also played football, hockey, handball, floorball, volleyball, I tried it all. Naturally I was pretty good at basketball and in Highschool I played basketball and then played football for fun in the summer.”
Basketball wasn’t a popular sport back home:
“Most friends didn’t play basketball and I don’t know where it is on the list but it’s not high. A lot of people choose to play other sports, but basketball is grow9ing all over the world including Sweden so I think that’s a good thing but it has ways to go compared to other countries in Europe and the whole world. I think it’s growing but football and all the other sports are definitely ahead of basketball back home.”
Israeli basketball passion:
“I wish we had the passion I’ve seen from Israeli fans and obviously I haven’t been to Israel yet, but I am looking forward to playing Maccabi in Tel Aviv. I know the fans are very passionate and know basketball and that they have a good basketball history in the country, so I’m looking forward to it. We don’t have that history and I hope that I can help grow the sport back home in Sweden with what I am doing over here and what I did in the NBA.”
About Jonathan Skjoldebrand who played for Sweden:
“I played with Jonathan, he’s a great guy and I know he is still playing in the Israeli league, although I don’t know what tam, I know that he is a very talented player. I know he took care of his body and it’s good to see that he is still playing”
Relationship with Omri Casspi:
“Every time we played we talked and I’ve seen him in the offseason, in the Summer League in Vegas and different places all over the world. We’ve had dinner before. He’s a good guy and I played against him for over a decade so I know him pretty well. It’s been fun to see him and good that he has been able to sow his skills back home despite being injured.”
Favorite NBA city?
“I enjoy playing basketball for a living so it’s hard to take one city and season. I don’t like to do that and maybe in ten years when I look back I will. But right now I’m concentrating on being here in the Euroleague in Russia still playing basketball and doing what I love to do. I don’t want to pick one place.”
What it’s like being in the lockerroom, practice and travelling with the Golden State Warriors?
“It’s just like any other team they breathe, eat and they sleep too. They are good friends and teammates just like any other team. I never understood those kind of questions as it’s just my job and I enjoy playing basketball whether it’s Golden State, Khimki or the Detroit Pistons. It doesn’t really matter as we are all human and everything that has happened lately we can all relate to being human and anything can happen to anybody. They breathe, sleep and eat just like any other human being.”
Disappointed about not winning the NBA Championship:
“Yes obviously. You’re very disappointed as it’s a lifelong goal to win the championship so when you don’t you’re obviously disappointed. Yes.”
Memory about Kobe Bryant:
“I played against him for a long time so there are a lot of good memories. But the first time being nervous and just competing against a legend and an icon who you had watched growing up and who you had imitated and playing on video games he’s probably one of the few players that you were looking forward to playing against. It made you nervous. I will always remember that first time in LA.”
Returning to European basketball last summer:
“I had a great opportunity and there were no other opportunities. I took the one opportunity I had and now I am here.”
The reason why players going from the NBA back to Europe:
“The new CBA – Collective Bargaining Agreement is what is doing it for sure”
Buying the Renegades ESport Team:
“We are developing the Renegades and it keeps evolving over the 3 years that I have had the team. We’ve invested a lot of money and our teams are getting better and better and Esports are getting bigger and bigger. It’s like any sports team where you have a lot of people working for you and it’s more and more every year and bigger and bigger every year. The Renegades are in a good situation right now and we are working towards the future. I see great things as this is just the beginning of what’s to come. It’s getting bigger all over the world.”
What to expect at Yad Eliayhu:
“Nobody’s really told me about it, but I know from experience growing up and watching the Euroleague and other players who have played there that know the Israeli fans and from what I’ve seen on TV they are very passionate and I know it will be a packed house with a great atmosphere. That’s what you strive for as a basketball player, you want to play in front of a lot of people and passionate fans. No matter if they are for you or against you, it’s going to be fun. I’m really looking forward to getting to Israel and playing this game.”