Tribute to the Champs: Ergin Ataman

Jun 25, 2021 by Euroleague.net Print
Tribute to the Champs: Ergin Ataman

No coach was as vocally confident in his team this season as Ergin Ataman of Anadolu Efes Istanbul. In the end, his confidence proved to be well placed. The genius of Ataman's words was that he at once boosted his players and took the pressure off of them, which allowed them to play at their best. EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic, Shane Larkin and Sertac Sanli had the best seasons of their careers under Ataman, while accomplished veterans Adrien Moerman, Bryant Dunston, Chris Singleton, Dogus Balbay, James Anderson, Krunoslav Simon, Rodrigue Beaubois and Tibor Pleiss bought into the coach's system to create a deep and dangerous team that ultimately proved unstoppable.

Ataman was rewarded for the risk he took when he inherited a last-place Efes side midway through the 2017-18 season. Over the past three seasons, Ataman has guided Efes to a 74-31 record. After reaching the 2019 championship game, he had Efes cruising atop the standings when the 2019-20 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It took time this season for Efes to regain its form, but once healthy, Ataman's charges dominated again all the way to the podium in Cologne.

His first EuroLeague triumph nestled Ataman into the history books with some select company. He joined Dusan Ivkovic and Aito Garcia Reneses as the only coaches to win four different European trophies; Ataman previously won the Saporta Cup with Montepaschi Siena in 2002, the EuroChallenge with Besiktas Istanbul in 2012, and the 7DAYS EuroCup with Galatasaray Istanbul in 2015. He also joined Ivkovic and David Blatt as the only coaches to win the EuroLeague and EuroCup. And at age 55, Ataman has plenty of prime coaching years left.