Spotlight: David Petroziello, 25 years of coaching experience at the highest level, shares valuable insights

Interview transcription

Introduce yourself in a few words

I have been an international coach and general manager for 25 years now.

I love to travel, to meet new people and different cultures thanks to sport.

And I strongly believe into the importance of sport in our society and this is why I’m here today.

Tell us about your background

My involvement in basketball started at a very young age. I started playing basketball and being exposed to the sport when I was a kid. Both of my parents played basketball when they were growing up. My dad played in college and high school in the US and my mom also played growing up so I was exposed to the game at a very young age. I was very lucky to have played for great coaches. I played for great coaches in high school and college. My dad was my first coach, he coached me in baseball and basketball and he had a great vision for the game that I took with me today. So I was born and raised in Quebec City, I started basketball there. I went to an English school there. I went to St-Vincent elementary school, St Patrick high school and CEGEP St Lawrence which is also an English school in Quebec. Overall, I grew up in an environment where we were all busy with sports and we did a lot of sports. I played baseball which is probably the sport I was the best at as an athlete. I was a very good baseball player, I could really hit the ball and had good eye-hand coordination, I was a good infielder and a good hitter. So I played a lot of baseball and basketball was my main sport. I also swam a little. But overall, I always grew up around sport. My mother was on the national steering committee for synchronized swimming in Canada which is now artistic swimming. And my sister is a certified international synchronized swimming coach. She coached in Geneva for 3 years, she coached in other parts of the world too. We just grew up in an academic and educational environment around sport. It was really a big part of our life.

And my career in basketball has really taken me everywhere, even within the province of Quebec, I’m a bit like the Larry Brown of Quebec. I’ve coached in several programs and it’s really cool when you put all the logos of the schools I’ve coached in and when you start counting them you realize that’s a lot of places. And I have more of an American mentality in the way I approach basketball and in the way I coach and even when I think about my career when I was a young coach. Really more of an American mentality than anything else. Having goals, achieving as much as possible, aiming for bigger opportunities and so I did that a lot. I have coached everywhere in Quebec, in Quebec City, in Montreal, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in the Cherbourg region. And finally, I left the province to do a Master’s degree in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is completely on the west coast of Canada. While I was there, I was the assistant coach for the men’s team, I met the person who became my wife there. We’ve been married for 15 years now, last May was our 15 year anniversary. And we have 3 incredible children who are now in Indonesia with my wife because we are starting a program there in Jakarta, Indonesia. They went there before me, I will join them from Paris. But overall I had to be seen, I was a student, I was a coach and I had a great opportunity which was to be the general manager and main coach of a new professional team. It was planned that I would be the general manager and we were going to hire a coach. The coach we hired who coached the Canadian national team had health problems. So he couldn’t continue for the season, he couldn’t start the season really. And the team owner ended up asking me if I wanted to be the head coach while being the MG so I was kind of pushed into this situation where I had to coach pros for the first time at a young age . I was really young, barely 30 years old. And working with guys who had played for basketball legends in college and they’re now standing in front of me so that really taught me some important lessons. One of them is: just do what you have to do, just do it. no reference to Nike but just did it. I was put in this situation and I have to find the solution and I succeeded. I had a great time there. And since then it’s just a series of opportunities that follow one another and that made us travel across Canada like being the head coach at the university, being the sports director. I was a professor at the university and I taught classes and sport management and leadership coaching. I was head coach in college, head coach pro. We have been to Australia twice to coach at pro level and to work with clubs. I like to work with local associations and clubs to help improve the basics on the ground for young people and all. We even had the opportunity to go to India and spent 8 weeks there working with players across the country and on their national program. It was an amazing experience. I don’t know how I would have gone to India otherwise but we went and it was a blessing. The game has been generous with us and one of the reasons I think the game has been so generous with us is because we respect the game and we respect the people in the game. We’re good with the game and with the people, with the culture. We respect people. It’s like putting positive in the universe and it comes back to you. It’s a bit of my story and there is obviously a lot of element in each of these places and all that led us to where I am now, which is to say coaching a pro team in North America in the BasketballSuperLeague and I am the general manager of this team as well. And we have a company called Hivemind Sport Solutions that works in different countries around the world trying to impact sport, coaching and players and communities through the power of sport. It started with me living on the south shore of Quebec city, just growing up in that environment and it took us all over the world so we’re really very lucky and very grateful for that.

What motivated you to start playing Basketball?

When I was very young, my coaches told me that I would become a coach and I see coaches as people who have a responsibility to help others. You know when you’re in school and you take personality tests and they tell you what type of personality you are, I’ve always had a really good score at protective and helping, helping. As a coach I feel I have a responsibility to serve the people I work with. And my coaches told me, you’re going to be a coach so you should be careful what I do because it will be you one day. I played and I was a good player, I was a starter so I was a good player but I was not an exceptional player, I was never going to make a living playing. Baseball as I said was my best sport, it was the sport I could have potentially pursued. But not basketball. I was a good player in high school and college but no further. But basketball got my soul. It’s a sport that’s so organic and flowing and natural when played well. Once I experienced it, saw it, and was exposed to it through my dad, my coaches, and my family. That’s what I wanted, I wanted to experience that. There was something different with basketball compared to American football, baseball, swimming and hockey. There really was something different with basketball. And I think I’ve always been sure that I would have wanted and that I would have tried to become a coach for all these reasons. And when I started hitting my ceiling, I got injured and that forced me to make the transition and become a coach. So I started coaching really young, I was like 19 years old and I was coaching a college team, guys that I had played against and it was a real experience where again I had to demonstrate that I knew what I was doing, I had to demonstrate that I cared about their success. In fact I think coaching so young and players my own age and a bit older really helped me become better as a coach, especially now, because it forced me to intentionally demonstrate the service I wanted them. give back. If I just do things that make me feel good, that’s one of the things I teach coaches today. If you’re doing things that make you feel good, you’re missing out on what we’re doing. Scream, go crazy. But don’t get me wrong, I’m screaming, I’m very lively, I’m very loud but I try to do it according to what they need instead of according to what I need and as long as young coach, it’s easy to do according to you it’s much more difficult to do according to them because you don’t have the experience and you’re afraid that they might doubt you and the things like that. And the only way to do it is just to do it. I think I knew at a young age, I gravitated around being a leader, I was constantly a leader on my team, captain and everything. and on the other hand, my family is a family of educators, my two parents were teachers, my big sister is a coach, it’s just a family thing. I liked growing up in that environment and wanted to continue competing and I like building teams. Automatically, my coaching philosophy is about unification, unifying people, I want to bring people together. People with different experiences, different cultures, different ages, different socio-economic backgrounds. I want to bring people and what the sport does and that’s how I coach. No matter who you are or where you come from, the ball loves everyone equally. It’s a big part of why I do what I do and I think I had this belief early on that it was a way for me to have an impact, to try to help people achieve goals. and to achieve their dreams and to do it in a way that I love, I love to coach, I love to build teams, I love to bring people together. So it’s not really a job. It sucks to lose, you play you win you lose no matter the outcome but I think the adventure we go through together as a team or as a program no matter what you do I think it’s so important to stay close to your principles and values and I think I had that growing up. It’s just a part of who I am and I knew early on that it was an opportunity for me to keep those important things and give them to other people and coaching is the way I found to make that happen.

Which moment in your career so far has made you the proudest, and why?

I’ve had lots of good moments in my career. I had lots of good people around me and lots of good teams so I have several answers for that. The 1st answer I will give is, I can go back to 2001 when I was coaching in a school in Montreal and that high school program, was playing at the highest level of high school basketball in the province of Quebec and for the 1st time of our life we made the play-offs, and I remember the pride that people felt and it made me feel good and it was really a pleasure to have been able to contribute to that because people were excited . So that’s one thing I remember. it’s something that stands out for me. In 2012 I went to coach in Australia and I ended up coaching a women’s Pro team in Div 2 and it was a program that hadn’t won a single match for 3 years, I wish I could say that we won everything in our path and won the championship but that’s not true but we won games and a lot of our lost games were very close and I’m very proud of that because it changed the culture of the game. he environment and the bond that we were able to create with this group was so strong and they adapted so well to the vision that I am super proud of this group. And I still speak with many of them today. We had a tragic end to this season. We lost 2 players in a car accident a few hours after our last match which is another big experience in my career which is still with me today. I’m very proud of how this team came together and performed, and came together and stayed together after the accident and I’m very proud of that. It happened not thanks to me. They knew each other from before, they had experiences together obviously but we achieved something together this season which brought them even closer and which created this environment where they could trust each other so I am very very proud of that. I will also say that I am super happy to still have relations with many of my former players. It makes me happy. So you’re asking for a proud moment and I’m proud of that. All the time when a player contacts me and asks me a question or just checks in, I’m proud of that because it means I connected with them humanly. And again, since I’m talking to coaches, you’re not coaching basketball players, you’re coaching humans who play basketball in their spare time during the week. And building a relationship is the essence of what leadership is and what coaching is. I’m very proud of that, every time it happens it makes me so happy that a former player I coached maybe 15 years ago thinks of me. It makes me proud of the work we’ve done and the environment we’ve created that has allowed people to be comfortable, that has allowed people to feel invested and that has allowed people to feel they could trust me. He’s going to support me and because I do it makes me proud every time it happens.

What where the main challenges you encountered in your career and how did you overcome them?

Well, I can tell you right now that the biggest challenge by far was the situation we had with an accident that took two of our players to Australia in 2012 on August 19, 2012. We had played our last game of the season. We didn’t make the playoffs that year. The program won its first game in three seasons. It was a good year. But unfortunately on our way back to our town there was an accident which killed two of our players really in the countryside in a countryside environment it was a country road and my wife and I and our baby who is now 11 years old. We were traveling separately from the team in our own vehicle because we had the baby and we got to the accident we came to a place where a person said you can’t continue here you have to follow this road . So we’re like, okay, but she’d been talking so loud in the car that she woke up baby Dominico and he was crying and the whole time I had no service on the cell phone because we were in the Bush. So I pull over to the side, we’re taking care of the baby and my phone goes into service and my phone starts ringing like crazy and it’s my captain calling me and she basically told me that There had been an accident and two of our players Stephanie and Stacey did not survive the accident and in the car was another of our players and her two children. And so at that point we kind of realized it was our team and so we ran back and we asked about the kids and it turns out both kids and their mom survived , but not the two players Steph and Stacey. There is nothing that prepares you for this absolutely nothing, there is no way to be prepared for this. It’s almost, may God protect us, it’s like losing a child. there’s no parent in the world who prepares for this, you don’t even want to think about it. and obviously as coaches we never consider that as something that could happen and so we were still several hours away from home the team was always with the bus to the gym because the men’s team had to play . and the moment we got back to our town, we actually met the two kids and their mother in the hospital, we waited for them to be transported and we joined them there, we were the first people that ‘they saw after that I still remember the brick color of the hospital in that field hospital in Queensland Australia I remember the room I remember like it was yesterday.

By the time we got to town and I met my staff, the bus had arrived first after all of this and they were waiting for me at the arena. It was maybe two o’clock in the morning. And at 8:30 in the morning my assistant coach was at my house and we went to Aldi, we did some shopping and at 9:30 we had the whole team at our house. And basically nobody left, we had them, it was a major event in the community. Media coverage across the country and obviously that was very important for the small communities around us as well, because they were both from a small community just outside of town. And so, being in that environment, the only thing you can turn to is turn to your faith first, right? so for me i turned to god and i was like a man, i don’t even know what i’m supposed to do now. And you just have to believe that you’re gonna figure out what you’re supposed to do. I also turned to my mentors in Canada. Time zones were helpful in this situation as it was the middle of the night but I could get people. And one of my mentors, she told me, she had coached our national team in Canada and at the Olympics and things like that, but she told me that when she was an athlete in university, she had lost a teammate in a car accident. And so she just told me a little bit about what they went through and that was very helpful, it was actually very helpful. So I repeat it’s this idea of team, this idea of community, you rely on others, you are never alone. You are only alone if you choose to be alone. And there are things that are just way too heavy, way too difficult to do on your own. So, you know, we kept everyone at home, people came to speak, there were community meetings, there were funerals, one of the families asked me to speak at the funeral. We got through this by doing what teams do, which is to come together, stick together, help each other, serve each other, love each other. And as tragic as that was, obviously it changed everyone’s life after that and it brought people together. And people have had to deal with that ever since, not least because the crash was so disastrous because the driver of the other vehicle had modifications on his car which were illegal front crash bars which were steel. So it just tore the car apart instead of disintegrating like it should. So everyone felt like tragedies happen, but some of them could be preventable and this one was preventable. So when I talk to players or coaches or anybody else, we talk about the importance of decisions. The decisions you make are like putting a stone in the lake, you don’t know where the ripples are going to go. You don’t know, it could go this way, it could go this way, and you don’t know where it will go in the end. And every decision we make is a stone in the lake that causes ripples. And we can’t think about the ripples because there’s no way to know where the ripples are going, but the only thing we can do is think about the decision. This is what we can think about, we can control what we do, our decisions. So being in the moment and trying to do our best to make good decisions but we have to accept that we never know where every decision will go and whichever direction we might think is the right decision , it could end up being the wrong decision. We don’t know, but if you invest your time and energy into the decision, you’ll have to live with what happens next. Getting over that, I wouldn’t even say getting over it because I didn’t get over it, but to get there you needed help. It took people around us and I’m proud to say that my team from that point on, they really leaned on my wife and I, on the culture that we had created within our team, on our environment of trust and security. And that’s how we got away with it. This is how we went through this experience. It was by looking to each other and the only way out is together, so I’d say for sure that’s by far the biggest absolute challenge as a coach, in as a man, and as a leader that I have had to face in my career.

What motivates you to push your limits and constantly improve?

Honestly, I think every day, every situation is just an opportunity for us to see what more we have to give. And what motivates me is my family. My family motivates me to keep pushing, to try, to see new horizons, new challenges. I love to build. I love to build. I love stepping into an environment that needs to be built in a different way than how it was done. I love being part of something new. and this construction process is really very exciting for me. And I built programs. Almost everywhere I’ve been there’s been a process of creating and building success and habits and things like that, like a model of success within the program, within the culture. What motivates me to continue is that my wife and I first and foremost want our children to have the opportunity to discover new places, so we are always looking for the right type of fit for us where our children can learn about a different culture. , living in a different city, a different country, meeting different people. And you know it’s funny because we were just talking about that like I said you know my family just arrived in Jakarta Indonesia and with Hivemind we have a project there we’re launching a club in Jakarta and they arrived. Jakarta is very different from what my children would have experienced so far, they have lived in Canada in different parts of Canada but still in Canada. Dominico lived in Australia when he was just a little baby. Whether in Vancouver, Quebec, Nova Scotia or Alberta. Different places, but you’re still in Canada, you know, but living in Indonesia is a completely different thing, it’s very different. Going to the United States yeah it’s the United States it’s different, coming to Europe of course it’s different, but coming to France or coming to Spain or Portugal or England is still a lot of things which are very similar to life in Canada. And Indonesia is very different and it’s a beautiful difference, it’s a beautiful difference because learning to respect difference is a big part of our family. It is very important for us, my wife is Indo-Fijian, I am Franco-Italian, we are a mixed couple and there are already different people within our family and I think I am learning to develop this acceptance, this recognition and this valuing someone else’s life and reality. the way you do things is not normal the way you do things can’t be normal because that makes everyone not normal the way you do things is the way you do things and the way they do things is the way they do things.

So staying motivated to keep pushing things back and trying new things and developing new projects and seeding new opportunities and things like that is our kids because we want them on the one hand to have the chance to experience new things and different places and respect that. But the other thing we want them to learn is that we want them to see us fearless, we want them to see us push our limits. The world will change another 25 times before they reach my age. The world is changing everyday, we don’t know what the world will look like in five years let alone in two years and only people who are comfortable with change and challenges I believe will be able to navigate it success in these waters. And we want our kids to be like that, of course, I’m a coach, we’re entrepreneurs, we’re socially responsible. Whatever we do but what it’s really about is this comfort with the change this comfort with the challenge and like some kind of surfing with the wave and sometimes you just don’t know where the wave is going to go but you always have to surf it. I must say that I am incredibly impressed with the resilience of my children. They left Las Vegas and took a non-stop two-day trip to Indonesia. and they’re just kids, so they’re tired and hungry and everything, but they still had this positivity about it. I think that’s really really important, really impressive and honestly, I feel like everyone has that. Everyone has that in them, especially children. We should take our kids and we should equip them with experiences and I think we’d be shocked at how much they react to that, you know, and that’s what motivates me, that’s what motivates me to keep challenging me. You know, someone says hey I would like to talk to you about A, B or C, would you like to come live in this place and do this. And I’ll talk to everyone because just having this conversation triggers questioning and learning about things that we might not otherwise know. And it’s definitely my family definitely my kids that motivates me to do everything I do.

What advice would you give to young people who want to succeed?

you know the first thing i would say to any athlete, young athlete who has a dream that has a goal, the first thing i would say to them is that it’s good to have a dream it’s good to have a goal, believe your goal is possible, believe your dream can come true. If you don’t believe that’s a real possibility, then you’re going to prove yourself right, you’re going to prove yourself right. You have to believe, you have to believe so hard that it’s like a matter of when and not if. You have to live your life that way and if you live your life with that kind of belief that it’s just delayed and not undone, then you’re going to act in a way that puts you in the position where it could actually happen. but if you don’t believe. Nobody goes backwards by accident for, you know, at really really high levels of success in anything, but especially in sports, you can’t pedal backwards in a professional life as an athlete, of agreement. You have to go forward, you have to chase it, you have to run after it every day. You have to believe it’s possible if you believe it’s possible, you can make it possible. If you don’t believe it’s possible, you’re going to prove yourself right, so that’s the first thing I would say is that you have to believe in your own dream. and if you believe in your dream you must also accept that in order for your dream to come true, for your goal to be achieved, you must achieve it and if you achieve it, if you believe you are going to make it happen , you say to yourself that I do not control everything about it. I don’t give myself an opportunity and then take my own opportunity. I need an opportunity from someone else. I need a scholarship offer, I need a contract, I need to be selected in a team by someone else. I do not select myself in the team. And once you recognize that you don’t control everything, it allows you to focus entirely on controlling what you control. And what it is is yourself. You control your work, you control your preparation, you control your routines, you control your lifestyle, you control your mindset, you control what you put into the process of pursuing your own dream.

It can’t be someone else’s dream and it can’t be someone else doing the work. You have to have a dream, your dream, you have to believe it’s true, it’s possible, you have to believe it’s possible. Once you believe it’s possible, you have to do the work. Nobody else can do it for you. You have to control what you can control because you can’t control everything. And automatically you may not reach your dream, you may not reach your goal, but if you apply yourself with other beliefs that you are capable of achieving it, you will end up much further than where you started. Whether you achieve what you want to achieve or not, you will end up much further than where you started. Guaranteed. and then you will go on from there because you accept that you don’t control everything so control what you can control take the right habits take the right lifestyle take the right mindset take the right routine. The way you do something is the way you do everything, so if you’re an undedicated and undisciplined person in one aspect of your life, chances are you’ll be that way in other aspects of your life. . But that’s the power of Sport. If you can learn to be dedicated and responsible in sport, whether you pursue a career in professional sport or not, you will develop essential life skills. That you can then apply in your profession as a teacher or a lawyer or a coach or a doctor or a bus driver, it doesn’t matter that you can apply these lessons in your life. but only if you believe you own it, it’s up to you, control what you can control and devote yourself fully and completely to it. And you’d be surprised how many successful people succeed because they lasted a little longer than someone else a lot of people just quit when it gets tough and maybe some push a little bit further but then it gets harder and a lot of them stop and then some of them keep pushing harder and harder towards the harder but more people stop and those are the ones who can continue because they believe in it so much. they’re no different, they just went on longer than anyone else. So I would say absolutely only believe in this and take responsibility for it, it’s mine, I believe it, I’m going to get there understanding that you don’t control everything, so control what you can control and go after it like you needed to breathe. There is an element of desperation to success in sports. It’s so competitive, but every person who’s ever been successful anywhere starts out like the rest of us. And in our sport, in basketball of course, there is the physique and things like that that change. If I had worked as hard as Giannis, that doesn’t mean I’m Giannis because at the end of the day, I’m not 6 feet tall and I’m not built like a statue. But if I had pursued him as he had pursued her. wherever I would have ended up, I would have ended up further than where I was and it could have prepared me for other things. So I think that advice is something that I try to share as much as possible with young athletes or not. whether sport is your career or sport is your learning laboratory, sport can change your life if you learn the right lessons from it.

What values or qualities are essential for success?

Resilience and dedication and overcoming difficulties that takes a lot of, say, heart or, say, tenacity, but what it really means to me is an insatiable appetite for challenge. So you have to look for the difficult things, not look for the easy things, look for the difficult things. Maybe it’s a little crazy to say that, why would I do hard things when I can do something easier? Nothing great has ever been done easily, everything great has been done with hard work, that’s what makes it a great success. Anything easy, anyone can do it. That value of being willing to commit to it, that insatiable appetite for the hard stuff, I tell guys all the time get in on a pitch, wherever you go, it doesn’t even matter, it could be at the open gym at the community center, look around, find the player who is the best player on the field and defend on that person and tell them to guard you if you can. And when you find someone else with that mindset, that’s where you’re going to really improve instead of finding the weakest link to feel good in an environment that doesn’t really have any d ‘importance. The important values of this are humility, you have to be humble, you have to believe that there are people who can teach you things, other players who can beat you, coaches who can teach you something. You need humility in this area and not walk around with a false sense of arrogance, a false sense of security or confidence. False confidence is one of the worst things in sports. Trust based on what? Just a picture in your mind of who you think you are versus the reality of who you are based on what you do. It’s really all we are, we are who we are based on what we do and not what we think we are, so humility is very important, self-awareness is very important. I can’t go left, I can’t go right. Well today at open gym I’m only gonna go left I’m only gonna go right I can shoot from three but I can’t really create from the dribble so I’m maybe wide open, but I will try and find creative opportunities. I have to be aware of what my game is and what it is not. I have to be humble to say that I didn’t understand. I have to learn, that people can teach me. These are very, very important values that allow me to say then if I am humble and I know that I am not perfect and I am aware of myself and I know that I have flaws in my game.

It means I will fail, I will fail it is inevitable humility self-awareness it provides the right ingredients for you to be resilient to enable you to overcome these failures because failures are going to happen. It’s no surprise when you make a mistake. You don’t go there expecting mistakes you don’t want mistakes but they will happen and it kind of allows you to reach the space where you can overcome that and that’s extremely important. A lot of people quit, a lot of young players quit, they’re afraid of making a mistake, they’re afraid of looking bad in front of their friends, they’re afraid the coaches will look at them and say I don’t don’t want this guy he makes too many mistakes and of course if you make too many mistakes there’s a reason for that it means you’re probably not working on the right things you’re not devoting enough time to work on the good things you need to be really good at the things you do often. so if you have to pass dribble and shoot, you better get really good at it. These are really important values that, for me, underlie everything else. And the last one I will mention now is gratitude. We have to be grateful for those learning environments, for those failures and that’s also something that I believe very strongly in, is this idea that gratitude is the antidote to feeling like you’re entitled to everything. You think you deserve everything, that people owe you because of a, b or c, that’s thinking you’re owed everything and not understanding that you have to go out and deserve what you’re trying to get. You have to deserve it. This gratitude keeps you humble, gratitude helps you recognize the blessings you have and the opportunities you have and it fights the feeling that everything is due to you. So really, humility, self-awareness, gratitude, those don’t really sound like sporting values and in a way they’re not human values, but behind every athlete is a human being and behind each team is a group of human beings. and so if you have the right values that you bring with you in that way, you end up having this incredible environment of safety, of trust, of experimentation where people aren’t afraid to grow in a way that makes you better and I think those are critically important to achieving all kinds of goals that someone might have in sports.

What is your vision for the development of basketball in the coming years?

What I would like to see happen in sport is a refocusing of Sport on the human in sport. So sometimes we spend a lot of time thinking about how we are going to organize the sport, what structure we are going to have, what the parameters of the game will be or what type of structures we can put in place. I think more important than that are the human values that people need to have inside the organization. An organization is nothing but lines on a paper except for the people who are part of the organization. I would therefore like to see the sport refocus on the experience of the participants, that is to say the athletes, the coaches, the administrators and the referees. People who work in sport, who participate in sport, talk about it and not about what the corporate structure requires. I think we’ve moved away from that in a lot of ways, we’ve forgotten that the reality on the ground is for the people trying to make a difference who are at the gym or the rink or the pool. We don’t think about people, so I would like to see that and I would like to see an investment in helping coaches become leaders of people and not teachers of a sport, the technical and tactical aspects of a sport. How do we become leaders of people. Because the truth is you can win. Take basketball for example, you can get really good at basketball in a million different ways. You could have a team where everyone is a shooter or you are going to have a team where no one is a shooter, you can still win. You can earn in different ways. It’s not about the type of attack you execute, it’s about the type of people who are together. So, teach coaches to value the person, to center the athlete. I think there’s a wave like that right now. Athlete centered coaching. Even from a learning environment in terms of small side games and teaching games for understanding. I think the sport is moving more and more in that direction. The problem is that a lot of it is at the upper levels, at high levels, where professional coaches have the time and the resources to educate themselves to take the best ideas and apply them. What we don’t do well enough like anywhere on the planet. Some good examples are New Zealand, they do a good job there, it’s a very small country, obviously some of the Scandinavian countries do quite well too, but what we don’t usually do well is take these ideas and to mobilize the knowledge for the people on the ground. The U13 U14 coach who has two training sessions a week with his team and doesn’t really know, he hasn’t played, maybe it’s a parent trying to help at the club. How can we help this person because the 10 kids on this team, they are still people and they deserve a great experience, right? And that’s what drives us at Hivemind. That’s part of what motivates us to try to demystify all that big information and make it really simple. It’s simple for us on the pitch. We can coach a team of under 10s and run a session where those kids feel valued. We train them and reach them where they are and help them improve by experiencing different elements of the game based on their age and such. We don’t need to be at a professional level for that to happen. We can take that knowledge and bring it down and I really believe that’s happening but it’s happening too slowly it’s happening too slowly we need more mobility on the ground in local clubs like here and elsewhere where coaches want to do a good job. They want the kids to have a good time, they want them to improve and they want them to compete, it’s possible to do it, you can do it, but they need resources and information to help them become better and that’s what I would like to see the sport become better in sharing resources, sharing information and sharing expertise because that is definitely going to make a huge difference at all levels.

What are your future projects or goals?

I have a lot of different goals with basketball, that’s for sure. I want to see the game become more popular in lots of different places. I want to see the quality of the game improve. I want to see more kids playing better basketball. Personally, now I coach at a professional level and I want to compete and I want to win championships and create an environment and a culture where people have all these feelings of empowerment and confidence and performance. That’s a big part of what drives me to compete at the professional level because if you take people who are skilled and competitive and aware of themselves and the game and put them in that type of environment, those are the best programs. You look at Golden State, you look at other examples around the world and I want to do this. I want to demonstrate that it’s possible for that to happen outside of the Golden State Warriors or the San Antonio Spurs or some of the best. I think Europe is an incredibly exciting market. I am very happy to be here with Hivemind and to offer some programs right now here this summer. We will be back in the fall. I hope we will create strong partnerships with European clubs that will allow an exchange of ideas and an exchange of expertise so that we can have some of that impact on the pitch. And our projects are also very varied with Hivemind. In Indonesia, as I said, we are starting a program there. we are in other parts of the world and in North Africa and Australia and the United States and a range of different places. And I think every time we go somewhere people get excited about the work that we do because I think it’s just genuine, genuine stuff. And I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I lived and coached in different parts of the world, including Europe or anywhere else in the future. Because we go back again to what we talked about earlier, this change and this excitement of building something and meeting new people. And for the family to experience that, it’s a big part of who we are so our upcoming projects are very exciting and they’re also very varied. I can coach a professional team here and here I am developing a program for young people aged 5 to 20, a club and I really like that. so Hivemind has got some really really cool stuff, I couldn’t be more grateful for the range of partners we have, the projects are really cool and I’m kinda excited to see what the future holds through all of this.

Your ultimate top 5 in basketball

I mean I have to start MJ, MJ is the best definitely the best let’s just say do I pick guys that are by position do I have to build a team or just my.. whatever you want.. ok my top five okay, so I’ll go with MJ for sure. I have Kobe on this list. I have Magic on this list. I have to say Shaq. I have Shaq on this list. I know the old ones are gonna be like what about Wilt and Kareem and Bill Russell and stuff like that but that’s before my time Shaq is like the most dominant big dude I’ve ever seen and honestly like I have to say Steph man because that guy changed the game so I don’t know if they’re the five best players of all time but for me those are the five guys that completely impacted the game on every level now LeBron is in this band too so I can cheat and get a sixth guy and it’ll be LeBron but you know if it’s LeBron or Steph or whatever, they’re all awesome. If I had to choose a team, it would complicate things because otherwise I would have to choose my position, but these are the guys I would have to say, they are there.

Which rule would you change in basketball?

I have to think carefully because I will hear about it for sure haha. Honestly, I think we should get a standard set of rules that include the United States. Last season we played NBA rules in the Pro League there (in Canada) and there are a lot of things about NBA rules that make the game more fun and more fun to watch. So I would say first of all, I think we should play 48 minutes. I think a 48 minute game is a better game than a 40 minute game. I think we should play six fouls. I think we should play the longest 3-point line. I think it makes the game better. I think fiba has a lot of rules that are really good like playing the ball on the hoop, I think that’s a good rule. There are others too I think. I think it creates more spacing. The defensive three-second rule is also a very good rule because it creates many paths to the basket. So there’s a range of rules here, but if I had to choose one, I’m actually going to add a line and it will be a 4-point line. I would add a 4 point line. it seems crazy to me that Dame and Steph and those guys only get three points for shooting from 30 feet, that’s crazy. I think it shouldn’t be the same as shooting from the line. And the one thing that I’ve learned, I’ve learned I should say, through the way the game has evolved, is that these rules shouldn’t be made to restrict. In my opinion, the rules have to be shaped. They shape the game. People were already shooting from the three-point line when there was no 3-point line, but when you insert a 3-point line over time, people develop the ability to shoot effectively from there. Shooting 35% from three points is better than shooting a higher percentage from below the circle. You get more points. And over time more people became effective shooters, same thing with the wider racket, right, like with the wider racket that changed the game, that changed the spacing, so if you put a 4 point line, it’s a bit crazy. it’s not gonna happen but if you put a 4 point line more people are gonna get better at playing that way and it’s gonna change the game even more so it’s kind of fun I don’t necessarily recommend it but it’s just one i would like to see that would be kinda fun.

Which sports personality would you like to have dinner with?

Muhammad Ali, end of story. From a sportsman’s point of view, I mean what Muhammad Ali had to endure in the United States as a prominent person with his social justice and things, you know. The things, the causes he was involved in, I just think it would be an incredibly interesting conversation. You know, from an athlete’s perspective, if I had had the chance to sit down with him, you know when he was alive, obviously that would have been an amazing conversation to have, I would have had a tons of questions for him.

which athlete or coach impresses you the most today?

I mean again trying to pick just one, it’s really hard because I feel like there are so many really awesome players and coaches. I am fascinated by Joker. I am fascinated by Joker. Joker and Doncic have done more to change the game than a lot of other guys and in a way that people don’t realize because here are exactly the types of players a few years ago people would have said they didn’t couldn’t play. Not athletic enough, not measuring well, can’t do this, can’t do that, slow. But they’re so smart and efficient at what they do that they’ve now opened up the possibility for other people like that to play the game at a high level so that really really impresses me. It really impresses me that they were able to fight the tide and get to where they are and watch them now. Luka as a youngster dominated the Euroleague and now he is stepping on the NBA. He hasn’t won yet, he hasn’t won yet and I hope he can grow in his own game as well. and Joker, I mean, now he just won it, he’s a maestro there- down, these guys are really impressive. I also have to say that LeBron, there may be a debate about LeBron. But this guy is 2m06, 110kg, he has the game of a point guard the will to pass to make the good play which I think people who don’t understand the game complain about. They would rather he take a really bad shot than make the right play and get a good shot for a good shooter. Now, if he passes the ball to me, it’s a mistake, but if he passes to a shooter, it’s the right play, okay. If you have to create a basketball player, he’s that guy. Because he’s big, he’s strong, he’s quick, he’s got talent, he can’t shoot very well but quite decently and he plays as a team. So I think that’s really impressive and from a coach’s perspective, coach Pop and San Antonio, I really admire what he’s done over the years. The way those teams with Parker and Ginobili and Tim Duncan and the way they played the game, it set the stage for how everybody plays the game, really. And so it’s really impressive and he’s still going there and now he’s going to coach Wemby and I mean it’s almost like a movie script, it’s a Hollywood script that Wemby ends up with Pop. It’s crazy. Then I hope it will work as everyone thinks. And I really admire Steve Kerr who has done such a great job bringing together such different personalities. I don’t know if I could coach a guy like Draymond. I don’t know if I’m equipped for that. Coaching a guy like Steph is easy because he’s a great player, he’s a great person, he’s so humble, he does everything he needs, everything the team needs. Draymond is a real challenge, I don’t know if I could coach Draymond, especially in the NBA, where the players have so much freedom, so much power, and he found a way to navigate them and I admire that a lot because it’s hard work, hard work, it helps to have Steph because Steph just sets the culture, so maybe I could find a way if I had Steph on my team too, but yeah I’m admire, there are so many great coaches and great players that it’s a bit difficult to select them but I would say those are the ones that come to mind.

A final word?

I think in conclusion I would encourage everyone to believe in themselves and often we hear negative messages we hear messages that are meant to bring us down or make us believe that we are not good enough or less than or never mind. Whether it’s in the media or whether you know people in our community or people at school or whatever. People are always going to try to find a way to get you down from where you are and I want to encourage people to believe in themselves and understand that you are capable of doing great things. You can do great things as long as you try to do great things. In other words, don’t try to do big things and go out of your way “I have to do a big thing” no. Do small things, small things will turn into big things, but you have to believe in yourself and you have to be good enough to do it, not someone else will. Why not, why not you, why couldn’t you do that. I believe you can do something great and it could be as simple as helping a neighbor it could be as simple as picking up the trash around you that could motivate someone else to be like you and all of a sudden you did make your place cleaner, it could be something as simple as that. It’s a good thing for me, it’s a good thing to be nice to someone you don’t know. In the subway, you know, in the store, you can do great things every day by doing a lot of simple things and that’s an encouragement that I just want to give everyone. You are good enough, we need you, we need you, the world needs you and believe in you and will achieve your dream, because if you believe in it, it can happen, you can achieve it for sure and I hope everyone takes this to heart and finds a way to apply it in your own life. Especially in sports. Sport is like the perfect environment because the stakes aren’t that high it’s like it’s a game we want to win we get disappointed when we lose but it’s not life or death , is not it ? You have a golden seat. Go play one sport all sports any sport multiple sports and go learn how to do these things in an environment that is not high risk. Fail, succeed, work, together overcome your frustrations, okay. If you can learn to do it in that environment then you will be able to use that in what you do later. Do not abandon. Believe in yourself. Accept the difficulty, accept the challenge, do the hard things, you’d be shocked to see where it could take you.

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