Malcolm Delaney (“A high-quality player, I am happy to say that he is a member of Olimpia Milano”, the general manager Christos Stavropoulos says) does not wait for questions to clarify, on the day of his official introduction to the media, what his expectations and his ambitions are. “I want to say thank you for the opportunity to play for such a prestigious club. I am excited to be here. From the very first conversation with Coach Ettore Messina I felt that this was the place where I needed to be. I have had a long career, this is my tenth year, the eighth out of America, and my goal is to win the EuroLeague. I have done almost everything individually, I won other titles in different countries, but the reason I’m here is to win the EuroLeague. When I was done in Atlanta, I said I didn’t really want to go back to Europe, but last year I had a good opportunity to come back and kind of remind everyone that I’m still a high-level player in Europe. I think I have proved it and so I got the attention of the Coach and Christos. From the first conversation with those guys, I felt that they really wanted me to come here. At this point in my career, what I needed was a club and a coach who wanted to give me the opportunity to lead a team, to put the weight on my shoulders to help them win, and that’s what my job will be here. I want to win.”
WHICH DELANEY WE WILL SEE – “During the first conversation with the Coach, he asked me to be myself. In Barcelona, the situation was different, I came late, sometimes I had to take the game over, but that wasn’t my role. I wanted to be myself, but at the same time I didn’t want to overstep what the coach was asking to me. I can’t have fun if I’m not myself, which doesn’t mean I have to score, I can do it by involving the other players. During the season at Lokomotiv, I scored a lot, but at the same time my teammates all played like they had never done before in their careers. I am proud to make the players around me better. Anyone who has played with me has loved it. I will be in attack mode, not just to have fun, but to transfer this mentality to the team. If they see me playing hard, the others will play hard too. This is the kind of leader I am.”
A POTENTIAL NBA RETURN – “Before Barcelona, when I left China, my only goal was to return to the NBA. Coach Messina called me, also a couple of teams called, but I just wasn’t interested. My mind was in the NBA. I felt I could play it, China had given me my confidence back. The 40 games I miss for NBA retirement were also an important fact. This is why I came late to Barcelona. I was talking to the Knicks, I had been to the Golden State minicamp. But the NBA has its own pace and I wanted to play. The timing of Barcelona was perfect, I wanted to have fun and try to win the EuroLeague. Now I don’t think about the NBA anymore, I’m here, this will be my home for the next two years and this is the place where I want to win for the next two years.”
RODRIGUEZ – “I believe that in the second conversation that I had with the Coach, he told me that he had talked to Chacho and that he wanted me to come to Milan. The Coach did a good job of communicating. Me, I don’t care, the most attractive thing about me is that I can play with anyone. I can play point-guard, shooting guard, if I have to score, I can do it, if I have to play only as a point-guard I can do it. Playing with Chacho will be fun, he is one of the most exciting players I have ever played against in Europe. He is a winner, and together we can score, play off the ball, then he is a great passer, he can score if needed, and we can both make our teammates better. Playing together, I think we will have an unlimited number of possibilities with the ball.”
THE SOCIAL MEDIA – “90 percent of what I write is sarcasm. Now I only interact with the Milan fans. If they ask me a question, I answer, maybe if they ask me to send a direct message to kids, I can do it. But one thing I never do is make the club or myself look bad. I never disrespect people, but I also don’t tolerate them disrespecting me. If someone tries to disrespect me, I just block him, I don’t go back and forth. Mostly I try to have fun, the fans liked me wherever I went because I talk to people and I’m always the same person, win or lose. I’m not one of those who goes on social media when they win and if they lose, they disappear for two weeks. I am in Europe alone, I have no family here with me, I am single, I have no kids, talking to friends and fans is what I do”.
WHAT YOU NEED IN THE EUROLEAGUE – “With Lokomotiv we came close, we just stumbled into a better prepared team, CSKA Moscow, but we had a great run, we were a team that wasn’t predicted to do anything. In Barcelona, we had a team that I thought could win the EuroLeague. So I think I have the experience to know what it takes to win, but for sure many of my teammates know. If I have to take a step back and look at them, at how they approach things, I will do it, because they have already done so.”
KYLE HINES – “I think everyone knows who Kyle Hines is. I have never heard a negative word about him. He is one of those players who do not speak, but on the court, he is a winner. There are players you don’t need to hear about. I have played against him many times, in the VTB League, in the EuroLeague since Munich. He is a rare player, an American who is not selfish at all, he is just a team player who only thinks about what he needs to do to win. For me, I’m excited: when the coach told me there was the possibility of signing him, that was one of the reasons that pushed me to come here. Playing alongside Kyle Hines will also be great for my career.”
EUROLEAGUE’S BEST ONE-ON-ONE GUARDS – “Mike (James) is one of my best friends, me and Shane Larkin got to know each other in the summer, I don’t know Scottie Wilbekin personally, but he’s one of the best guard I’ve ever played against. But with freedom and the ball in my hands, I’m the best guard in Europe.”