July 2018 , Ergin Ataman made first interview of 2018-2019 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Season with us in Istanbul.He told me he will be in Final Four 2019 of Euroleague and he said Anadolu Efes Basketball Team will be the champions of Turkish League.
If Dimitris Itoudis is the absolute ruler of the European season, Ergin Ataman is the coach who has made the most important and unexpected step forward for many people. For many people…but not for him.
It is simply the strength, against everything and against anything, to be himself, in a world which he is ready to accept anything… but not the involvement of his loved ones.
Tahincioğlu Basketball Super League Play-Off Final Series game 7 as the FINAL GAME against Fenerbahçe was typically “towards to the Ataman”. We have learned to know him well in these two years and we would not have expected anything different. Game ends ,they are the champions and Ergin goes to the locker room, after having embraced Obradovic, comes back to the award ceremony with a face that is similar to Mike James who won the Alfonso Ford Trophy in Vitoria and having this face as a portrait of happiness... During the whole 40 minutes of the game he was sitting,not giving any emotional behaviours and he gave the management of the “timeouts” to the assistant coach,. It was not detached, in fact, because the warrior had the fire inside, but that fire risked being extinguished by the extinguishers of unhappiness and disgust for what he was experiencing.
Ergin Ataman is a human being who could have made some mistakes, as stories tell of many controversies between alleged doping, minutes of timeout calls when there was no more needed and series of statements that although related to the thickness of the character of real provocations.
No press conference after a Turkish title?.. All normal, he speaks only to the newspaper (to the journalist Ali Naci Kuçuk who works for “Hurriyet”) and what is said is clear, direct and pungent as always. But above all,they are the words of a man whose serenity and joy have been taken away in such a moment.
and here are some statements of Ergin Ataman from that interview…
“In Turkey there is this obvious big success of basketball but at the same time there is this big smear campaign against me and it is incredible I feel really alone.I’m not saying this is club-based.. Organization of sports in Turkey is the press … Press is the reason why I did not make the press conference after the Turkish title. In other words, since Ergin Ataman, who has won so many historical achievements in Turkish sport for the past 20 years, a person who was in contradiction with his own supporters in order to make the fair-play stand out, and he was shown as the person who polluted the Turkish sport. And no one reacted.“
“They ask me, ‘Why are you talking about Galatasaray?’
While being the best Turkish coach, I expressed that Efes has the most beautiful fans. But at the end of the day , I’m a fan of Galatasaray. And you know I have a goal. When my term expires I am a candidate for Galatasaray Presidency.”
“Turkey has very good worldwide athletes. First it was Arda Turan, now Cengiz Ünder, back in the day Hidayet Türkoğlu in basketball, now Cedi Osman … Fatih Terim and me as successes as a coach. But there is a serious shortage of managers in Turkey. That’s all I have to say.”
“There may be places where I’m wrong. For example, I wish I hadn’t invited Ali Koç to apologize after the Final Four. I have no problem with him. But of course this is mutual! I’m Ergin Ataman. There’s no point in extending it.”
It is clear that this is a long and complicated matter that has its own roots in the first years of 2000.We go back to the Ulkerspor, we pass by Efes, Besiktas and Galatasaray..Ataman has won everything except the Euroleague title, and those 20 current titles have been often obtained by Fenerbahçe’s opponent. All this can relate to the sports environment and a rivalry which is good but the personal story has something dramatic and negative sides.
There are papers, real or false denunciations, clear interventions and obscure shortcomings that make the matter of medical (dopping) issues too complicated.But since we are always on the side of the game and never being the side of the coaches ,fans or any players, we cannot fail to notice that it is not a pleasant image to see a coach in a situation of this personal difficulty, even if he was the main architect of it…
Ergin lives by heart, lives on instinct and lives on great sensations that makes it unique in its kind. He is not afraid to take verbal risks that can expose him to be a potential fool, but he does it simply because he is Ergin Ataman, the friend of Emperor Fatih Terim, with whom he shares so many characteristic similarities .
He knows how to handle so many things, he knows how to do it masterfully in a world like that of basketball, but he also knows how to have his eyes shining for his nation, rather than for his club.
Has the dose of insults he had to endure during these past weeks been exaggerated? It is not for us to say or judge, but the man has suffered. Much. No demonization of the Fenerbahçe fans, indeed, since it is the same that stands out for absolute passion and that for 39 minutes, during the final between Efes and Cska, supported the team of their country without hesitation. Then, there is that past that always comes back, those stories that it would be time to clear up once and for all how two great clubs like those who challenged each other in the final and who gave prestige to Turkish basketball would deserve by participating in Final 4.
Ergin is alone, very much, while remaining in command. His look tells us, which is always a mix of melancholy and cunning. Nothing is excluded in his future, because those sensations he feeds on have gone a little further. That stick of command could also let it go, certainly ready for a new challenge a few hours later (the offers are not lacking and are also of a certain importance), but with a heart full of sadness because its affections should not be touched. If it is true that it is the life of athletes, it is equally true that a sport like basketball deserves to be a step forward. And that step forward means respect and full consideration for human beings, because there are not salaries with 5 or 6 zeros to change the nature of a man. What remains a man, with his strengths and his faults. Like Ergin.