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Josh Childress, Olympiacos
Oct 02, 2008
by Frank Lawlor, Euroleague.net
One of the Euroleague's biggest summer signings, Josh Childress of Olympiacos B.C., has been making himself a new home in Athens, Greece, the last few weeks. Under the tutelage of a legendary coach, with the help of star teammates, the gifted forward is getting ready for a Euroleague season for which he, the Reds and their one-of-a-kind fans hold high hopes. Childress surprised a lot of people by choosing Olympiacos and the Euroleague in the prime of an accomplished NBA career, but as he says in this Euroleague.net interview, he's already finding what he came for. "The style of play here in terms of getting back to a team game was something that really attracted me." Childress told Euroleague.net. "I had been four years in the NBA and it's a different game. This is little more team-focused, team-oriented, which is something I felt like it would be good to get back to."
First of all, Josh, how do you like Greece so far?
"So far, I am really enjoying myself and getting to see what I can of Athens. It's a great city and I am just having fun using my free time to try to learn about a new culture."
You surprised a lot of people this summer by joining Olympiacos to play in the Euroleague. What was the opportunity you saw that convinced you to make this move?
"I think that what I found was a good opportunity for me as a person and as a player to grow. Granted, it's not growing in the NBA, where I was until now, but it's growing in a way that was important to me. Obviously, it was a big step both personally and career-wise, but I am sure right now that it was a good move."
After you made your decision this summer, everyone was talking about some of the best basketball they had ever seen involving European teams and players at the Olympics. Did that reinforce your decision to try the European game?
"That didn't have a great effect on me personally, because I was already mentally ready for this change. But I think seeing the Olympics allowed other people who maybe didn't know before to see the level of basketball here and see that it's very, very high. That, obviously, was a good thing for basketball."
As a player who proved himself at all levels in your own country, what attracted you to the European game in the prime of your career?
"I think just seeing the style of play here in terms of getting back to a team game was something that really attracted me. I had been four years in the NBA and it's a different game. This is little more team-focused, team-oriented, which is something I felt like it would be good to get back to."
Everyone wants to see you in action, but have you had a chance to see the Greek fans in action, yet?
"The truth is that I really haven't yet. We have played just one preseason tournament in Greece, and that was in a smaller gym, so I haven't been able yet to get a real idea of how it's going to be. We have our first games in the next few weeks, and then I'll get the chance to see how crazy they are and rowdy they are. I am looking forward to it."
Tell us about the team. Who did you know about before you arrived and who are the guys that are new to you that you've connected with on the court so far?
"The only player I really knew, and not personally, was Lynn Greer and Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Those were the only two I had seen much of. Now, during preseason, I'm just connecting with all the guys and I think we have a great team. We have a lot of new players to it takes everybody time to get accustomed to each other. So far I enjoy play with them and getting to know them on and off the court."
How has learning a new style of play been so far?
"I'm trying. The last game we play I got a couple traveling calls I am not used to. It's going take time in that regard, and I am impatient to do well. My coach and my teammates have been great in trying to help me be patient and realize that it's going to take a little time. I just know that the sooner I can get used to it, the better."
Your coach, Panagiotis Giannakis, is a legend in Europe, a champion as both a player and a coach, and obviously an important person in your transition. How is he helping you get accustomed?
"He's been very helpful, doing whatever he can to try to help me through this process. He's basically trying to teach me, taking it upon himself to teach me how to be successful here like he has been in his career. And I appreciate it."
Some people have called Euroleague game a perfect hybrid between the NCAA and the NBA: the very passionate crowds and team basketball of the former, with a skill level that is always getting closer to the latter. Do you see that comparison as accurate?
"I think it's a very accurate comparison. It's the same exact thing that I would say, both ways. And I think that year after year that skill level is getting higher. European basketball is getting better and more skillful at the same time."
Do you consider yourself a trailblazer?
"People have called me that, and I do agree to an extent. I guess I am just the first guy in my position who wanted to try Europe at this stage of his career. And I'm going to give it my best shot. Whether a trailblazer or not, I felt comfortable that this was a good fit for me. I am sure it will be an eye-opener for other guys who will see me and maybe give Europe a shot, too."