Joe Arlauckas talks to the team-builders at Fenerbahce, Milan and Zalgiris
The Crossover has a different feel this time with host Joe Arlauckas welcoming a trio of well-respected general managers from Turkish Airlines EuroLeague clubs to tell of their experiences and behind-the-scenes insights. Maurizio Gherardini of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, Christos Stavropoulos of AX Armani Exchange Milan and Paulius Motiejunas of Zalgiris Kaunas share the microphone with Arlauckas in this two-part panel discussion that touches on a wide range of topics.
Naturally, one of the first topics to be broached was how they became basketball executives. While each took different paths to where they sit today, all came about their love of basketball as players in their youth.
[08:35] "I still believe I can be a player," Motiejunas joked, before explaining what really happened when he first started working for Zalgiris. "I was always thinking I'll finish school and then I can still turn pro or play semi-pro. When I started to work for the club, I remember to this day. I saw the first practice and I did not understand how the guys had so much strength, how fast they were. And it just hit me then and I'm like, 'Dude, you're not going to [play at] that level!"
A general manager's job encompasses many areas. Of course, most of the focus is on how well the team is playing. That said, there is a seemingly endless list of other responsibilities on a GM's desk at any time that can include player development, youth teams, business interests, logistics and many more items. However, as Stavropoulos explained, no two GMs have exactly the same job description.
[16:45] "I think it's probably different from club to club, depending on the internal structure of the organization," Stavropoulos said. "In our organization, Mr. Armani and the president, Mr. Dell'Orco, give us the freedom to decide. But even in the same country, every club has different needs. So the description of the GM role is different, it changes a lot from club to club."
The general manager with the most experience among the three is Gherardini, who harkened back to the start of his career to make a point about how GMs must work to help their players.
[35:10] "One of the most rewarding feelings I have today is when I talk to millennials or to young students and I try to tell them how my life as a GM was back then when [Joe was] playing. When I started, let's say, working for my basketball club, think about this: There was no computer, no cellphones," Gherardini said.
But as different as it was then, some things remain the same, he concluded: "The adjustment is needed anywhere, any time. It was needed 40 years ago, it is needed today."
In the second part of the discussion, coming soon, the GMs pick up on additional themes of their work like thinking out of the box, moving on when legendary coaches leave your team, dealing with star players nearing the ends of their careers, what they learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the passion found in the EuroLeague.
With a one-hour format of exclusive one-on-one interviews, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas goes well beyond the playing court with each podcast to delve into the life experiences that have made his guests protagonists and legends of the EuroLeague. The Crossover debuted in 2018 and has featured such current stars as Toko Shengelia, Shane Larkin and Kyle Hines, coaching greats such as Ettore Messina, Pablo Laso and Zeljko Obradovic, and legends like Theo Papaloukas, Nikola Vujcic and Mike Batiste, among others. The first guests in Season 3 were FC Bayern Munich Coach Andrea Trinchieri, Zalgiris Kaunas star Marius Grigonis, Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos Piraeus and CSKA Moscow assistant coach Darryl Middleton, Kevin Pangos of Zenit St Petersburg and Norris Cole of LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is available on Youtube, iTunes, Audioboom, Spotify, Deezer, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, CastBox, iVoox and other platforms.