Hi Derrick! After the win against Olympiacos, lots of pressure has been released, maybe more than in the last two years. Does it mean anything? Yair - Israel
"Yeah, I think it does for the whole team. It usually does, in fact. The hard part for us is usually the road to the Final Four. This year has been the toughest road I recall since I've been here, so this year it's like the biggest release of pressure. I am not forgetting the shot against Zalgiris, which was exciting and lucky, but that time I was just grateful. Last year we were favorites and had an easier road. This year, it was not that way, so we are feeling quite good to be on our way to Prague now."
Derrick, you are the best. I couldn't have been happier when I heard they chose you as captain. After being with Maccabi for the last decade, could you tell us what has changed in Maccabi since you came? And where do you think it will be in another 10 years? I appreciate all you did, do and will do, Lev - Israel
"What has changed, wow. Well, we've gotten a lot better, that's for sure. We've gotten the team back to how Maccabi started, winning championships and being known all over Europe. It's true that with teams like this, things go in cycles. Now is our time to shine. We've had the luck of winners. That's difficult to have all the time, but it's our time now. This kind of run happens maybe every 20 years. But while it lasts, we're in the moment and enjoying it."
Dear Derrick, I traveled from New Jersey to see you and Maccabi play in the deciding game against Olympiacos and was amazed at the energy and noise level of the crowd, especially compared to the NBA. How important do you think the crowd will be in Prague? Good luck and thanks for a great experience that I’ll never forget! Doron Tamari - New Jersey, United States
"I think that the crowd is definitely one of main reasons we are back-to-back champions. We have a lot crowd come with us overseas to support us, not just at the Final Four, either, but at regular Euroleague games, too. They are our sixth player. We thrive off them. We wouldn't be complete without our fans. When we win, they win. They are a big part of us."
Derrick, thank you for all the wonderful years, and especially for that unforgettable three-pointer versus Zalgiris. Do you think that Maccabi should start a rebuilding process next season, or that the current base of players who won two championships and perhaps a third one should continue? Thanks, Ron - Illinois, United States
"I think we should just milk it until it runs out. I don't think it's time to rebuild yet. If it's not broken, don't fix it. If the guys who are here show less hunger or don't get the results, that's another thing, but for now we need to keep the team together. When you see a loss of desire, then will be the time to bring more hunger in here. Right now, though, we're still going to the Final Four. Let's see first if we can win it again."
Hello Derrick, I am a youth player in Israel. It is obvious that your way to the top was not easy. What do you think that I, as a youth player, should do in order to reach the pros, even in the second league in Israel, where you too have been? Thanks, Omer - Israel
"For me, just when I was growing up, I learned from my coaches to try to work harder than anyone else who is playing basketball at the same time. When I think someone else is sleeping, I should be outside, working on my game, a thousand shots a day, two thousand. So just go out to the court and work, and don't be inside playing Play Station or watching TV. I remember being outside on the court from the time I got home from school until dark. Just outwork everyone on the planet. That's pretty much the key. You've got to deserve it. I'd say two thousand shots a day, every day."
Yo, Derrick. Usually, we see a secure Maccabi with everything going according to plan. Do you not find it a problem that Maccabi missed 13 free throws in the Olympiacos game and also lost two Israeli League games in a row? Can you be certain that the machine is ready to go? Osterman - Israel
"The machine? First of all, we are not a machine. We're not robots, we're people, and of course we're going to miss shots and lose games sometimes. And sometime you've got to lose in order to win later, you've got to miss in order to deserve to make it when it counts. As long as we play hard and believe in the system, everything will take care of itself. We don't miss shots on purpose, and we don't lose confidence in ourselves. Each game is different. If we missed 13 in one game, maybe we make 13 in the next one. That's why basketball is great. We're not perfect and never will be."
Hi Derrick. You are one of the most veteran players going to this Final Four, so you are as qualified as anyone to tell us what is the best advice than an experienced player can give to a young one. Can you give an example? Good Luck in Prague! Francisco J. Martinez - Madrid, Spain
"Just not to look at it as a Final Four or not to look at it as a championship game. You've got to just approach it as a regular game and not think about everything else going on around it. Our job is to just play that game. You can't think about what happens if you win or lose, who can be MVP or winning the cup. You just have to think about how to win the game. If you concentrate on that, everything else falls into place. You can't think too far ahead. Just worry about winning, and if you do that, move on and then worry about winning the next one. Don't think that a title comes with it. Just play."
Hi, Derrick. For Maccabi's fans and for me you are the "rescuer" of the team. I can't think of Maccabi without Derrick. How much time do you think you will stay in Maccabi? Good luck at the Final Four. We trust you! Zehavit Juvani - Israel
"I hope I can stay as long as my body can hold up. I would think another four or five years if I keep my body together, keep eating right and sleeping right, taking care of myself. Anthony Parker says I have to eat my green beans."
Hi, Derrick. First of all, you have no idea how much I admire you, and I want to thank for the last ten amazing years. I've always wondered, after you've taken part in so many top-level European games, what was the most exciting, greatest moment for you personally? God bless, Neti Golan
"Probably the shot against Zalgiris to go to the Final Four. That was the shot to tie the game, which we went on to win, but since that was the Final Four year in Tel Aviv, there was a lot of pressure from the whole country for us to make it. So that was certainly one of the big moments, just making it under those circumstances, not even winning. Just making it with all the pressure that went with that game made it the best, I think."
For Derrick Sharp: Being the Euroleague champs for two seasons in a row makes Maccabi the team to beat for all you opponents, but also provides you and your mates with the experience and know-how on how to rise to the occasion. Will it be more difficult or easier to do the ‘three-peat’ then? Angelos Georgiou - Pireaus, Greece
"So far it has been harder than all the previous years, with so much adversity mentally and physically. We have to come prepared every night, all our guys, because other teams see the champions and come at us with a 200-percent effort to beat the champs. So I think this year is hard. To be mentally prepared for each game has been a real test. This year is definitely the hardest yet."