It’s not often an accomplished basketball coach doesn’t see an NBA bench until age 54 but for Ettore Messina, the fun is just getting started. Messina joins the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant for the 2014-15 season and already folks in the Alamo are thinking Popovich’s successor may have just walked through the door.
Ettore Messina spent the 2011-12 season as a special consultant to the Lakers but he’s made his money in Italy and Russia, capturing nine domestic titles and a European Championship. Most recently the bench boss at CSKA Moscow, Ettore Messina gave an interview in which he described how his new job with the Spurs came about:
“The Spurs have shown me great affection. After the announcement of his extension with the Spurs, I got a call from Pop and he confirmed that he would be very happy to have me on his staff.”
Though he wouldn’t acknowledge talk of being groomed as the heir apparent to Gregg Popovich, Ettore Messina admits he still has some learning to do as a coach. Messina has been linked to a few head coaching vacancies within recent years but has met his perfect match with the Spurs, a team better than any other at incorporating the European game onto the NBA floor.
Ettore Messina is widely regarded as an “offensive innovator” who was named one of the Euroleague’s 10 Greatest Coaches of All-Time in 2008. His stint with the Lakers only lasted a year but he supposedly left a favorable impression on Kobe Bryant. Whether Messina is the successor to Popovich remains to be seen but for now there’s no doubt he makes the best team in the NBA even better.