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Mike James: “Let’s see where I can bring a team in a leadership role”


“Milan did not have to do much to convince me to come here,” says Mike James, the new Olimpia point-guard. Basically, he chose Olimpia at least as much as Olimpia chose him. “I wanted a team that would give me the opportunity to continue playing in the EuroLeague after two years at Panathinaikos when I established myself as one of the best players in Europe, playing for a very good team, with very high expectations. I wanted a team where I’d be more upfront, being more a central focus, being more of a leader, even vocally, and see how far can I bring a team where I’m more of a leader … At Panathinaikos obviously I had to share that role with Nick, Chris, Gist.” He calls them like this: Nick is Calathes, Chris is Singleton (but he went to Barcelona) and Gist is James Gist.

During the last season Olimpia won the Italian title while James won the Greek championship. Repeating on a national level is a goal, but both the team and Mike obviously would like to do better in the EuroLeague. James played a Final Four in Vitoria and twice reached the quarterfinals at Panathinaikos. “Winning sometimes is a matter of mentality. It’s not that Milan didn’t have good teams or talented players for the EuroLeague in the last few years but chemistry sometimes comes into play. Mentality means there are games where you simply cannot lose. At Panathinaikos, sometimes the difference between us and the others was that we felt we couldn’t lose. It did not matter what would happen because we would have won anyway. This was our approach that changed many things in our favor, “he explains.

Mike James is a scorer, he has always been one. At Lamar he scored 52 points in one game, in Phoenix with limited playing time but in the NBA he averaged over 10 points per game and in the EuroLeague last year he was over 16 points per game in a team with a very high number of talented players. In addition, he plays with contagious energy. “I don’t know, I think I’m a basketball player, scoring is what people choose to focuv on, scoring gets you in the papers, but I’m pretty versatile in many aspects and I want to show more of that this year,” says MJ. On his favourite position on the court, he has no doubts. Mike is a point-man: “It’s my natural role – he explains – Last year I came at Panathinaikos late in the season and they made sure that I could easily fit in, next to Calathes. Other than that I’ve always played as a point-guard every year, including my first year at Panathinaikos with Calathes. It’s my natural position, the one I feel the most comfortable”.


ABOUT SOCCER… – Those who follow Mike James on social media will have noticed a boundless passion for soccer. “It was born on videogames – he admits – especially in the summer it happened to me after a long practice to stay at home the rest of the day and play videogames. But those about the NBA and American football were boring, so I started looking at alternatives and I experimented with FIFA. Playing the videogame has generated my interest, hence the passion for soccer in general “.