By Nikos Varlas – Lefteris Moutis/ email@example.com
The arrival of Galatasaray to Athens, our base, was a good opportunity to sit on the same table with Carlos Arroyo and speak about everything. He is one of the players/personalities that when you have the chance to speak to, you just can’t pass it.
In his case, you don’t need just permission from the team. He must also be asked, agree and then you have the chance to interview him. That’s what happened. We met Carlos in the team’s hotel, we spend 30 minutes with him and that time proved to be very little for all those things we had to share, but it was was more than enough for us to be shocked.
In our line of work interviews are an everyday thing and we have our share of similar experiences. But it’s very rare to enjoy speaking to a person with whom there’s no prior relationship, see him open his heart and talk so honestly without any kind of restriction.
He is a great player and that’s not something we just say. He has proven it again and again on the courts. However our opinion for him is that he is an even bigger personality. We need no more explanation about why he is beloved in every team he has been a part of and why the fans of Galatasaray are ready to defend him so fanatically in every occasion.
We don’t want to add anything more, we don’t want even to include our questions in what was a sea of his words and sometimes of his emotions. The titles are just enough we will let him do the “talking”.
Our ambition is to present our talk with him exactly the way it happened. It’s the real Carlos Arroyo uncut.
His role on the team and the TBL status
“Every season is extremely difficult, from the team to mentally prepare for the season. It takes everybody, not only one or two guys. That’s why it’s so difficult to build a chemistry, because to have a great team, you need to have everybody on the same page. You know the players are individuals and it takes time to see who is really committed to the team. Every year the Turkish league has been more and more competitive. This season? More than ever! Because of the coaches we have in the league. Ivkovic at Efes, Obradovic at Fenerbahce. Those type of coaches attract good and quality players to come and play at Turkey, as well as good money”.
Comparing to the ACB
“ I only know the top 10 level teams in ACB. I don’t know so much things about the others. In our league you cannot discount teams like Banvit, like Karsiyaka, Besiktas and many other teams. You know, Fenerbahce lost to Gaziantep at home the other day. I have been on conversations with other guys, who played in ACB. The opinions are different. It depends on how you approach it. It depends also how the coaches have their teams running. Some want their teams running, some others want their teams to be very physical. You see teams playing much with the three points shots, or other teams that they don’t even like the fast breaks”.
Is there a clear favorite for the TBL title?
“All the teams have good players. The situation with the money is pretty good at this point in TBL. This is true, we can’t lie about that. So any given night you can lose to every team and that’s why you can say the league is probably the most hard around Europe. Smart players will keep their teams winning at the end! We can’t predict anything it’s too early. But I believe we have an exciting season ahead of us”.
How did he feel for not having the chance to win the title in a Game 7 last season?
“I was broken. I need to be honest with you. I was totally broken. As a competitor, you are fighting to win. The bottom line for a team, for an athlete, is to win championships. We didn’t get that opportunity. We were fighting till the end and it was like taken away for us.
But it was a decision made by the club. So, we respect it and move on. It’s really nothing we can do about it. You can’t just stay there crying. The president and GM made that decision and we are obligated to move on. To conclude as I told you, I was extremely broken. To win means a lot to me. I have tasted how it feels to win in the Turkish league with Galatasaray. I also won titles with Besiktas. We moved on with coach Ataman and we tasted that the year before that. It’s something you are addicted to.
So, not having the opportunity to do it again it was a big disappointment for me. I never imagined in a million years I would be a part of this experience! I was struggling to understand what was the situation. I don’t know if that have happened ever again with some other team? Is it? Someone told me that happened once before many years (Carlos means the Olympiacos – Panathinaikos final series back on 1993!) So, that makes us not be the only one”!
The love of the fans and coach Ataman
“It’s a great responsibility. I feel that our fans see my competitive nature. That I want to give it all for the club the coach and my teammates. I feel the same way, like they do. Love. This country opened the doors for me to be able to play my game. To be the real Carlos Arroyo. The coach has allowed me to be the leader, to be myself.
In the NBA I was struggling, cause I knew how much I could do and I never got that opportunity. To feel free and play my game. I know it’s in my blood! I’m extremely happy I came to Turkey and took the chance to play the game in my way. I feel very grateful for what I have experienced so far in my career at Turkey.
“It’s not only about me. You know when I was playing in the NBA I was always following Euroleague cause of my FIBA attachment and the National Team. So I knew who Spanoulis was. If I remember well It was like 2006. I was playing at Orlando. Spanoulis has landed at the Houston Rockets and he had a tough coach, Jeff Van Gundy. It was easy for me to see that this guy wasn’t his self on the court. He wasn’t a happy man. I remember talking with him about this. That they tried to control your game.
Ok, you playing with great players obviously, but many times they don’t allow you at all to play your game? We have the same example with me at the Miami Heat. I had LeBron, Wade and Boss to give the ball. Can Arroyo be the real Arroyo in a situation like that? No, he can’t. He has to be a distributor for all that players. This is a very, very tough situation for guys who are used to be the elite players in their teams. Spanoulis wasn’t respected that much at Houston. But, you know Spanoulis wasn’t Spanoulis at Houston! This was the case.
It depends who you are as a person and your type of player. I don’t like to look back in my career and think, damn, I didn’t achieve what I could, I didn’t develop my game as far as I could. Finally, for me to come in Europe, it allowed me to do that and find again my self. I think I was right. I can be a leader to top European level. Euroleague is the most competitive and quality league after the NBA. Spanoulis did the same thing and I respect him for that.
What if he had the chance to turn the time back…
“Man, NBA was my dream and specially Miami is home for me. I thought hard about that. I don’t have any regrets. I talked with my self and my family and I made the decision. Guys, another similar example was Jasikevicius. He went to Golden State and Indiana. The situation for him was pretty the same. Navarro played very well for one season and he came back! But, please, don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful I played there. But at some point players have to take some decisions according to what they can really give to the game. It depends on many aspects. I am happy for what I have done and tasted in my European trip. It would be bad, if I had retired and had thoughts in my mind, like what I could have been done as a leader”.
“You don’t see often in a NBA arena a session of fans jumping without shirts! First of all it’s not allowed! I think it gives more intense and brings more emotion to the game. I have friends coming in Europe and when they see that, they are saying, man, what’s going on here! You love to be part of it”.
“I love basketball since I was a kid. The game will allow me to know. If I have to slow down, or play less minutes. My body will show me the road. I feel good right know. The last 13-14 years I play the whole year and I also have the national team on summers. I don’t get any rest. So I should be more tired than others. I’m 35 right now, on summer I will turn 36, so I really don’t know and I am honest to you. We have to see what happens with this team also. Hopefully, the financial situation will be improved and we will get better. This club is totally respected and never was known for financial issues. We trust the club, that they will take care of everything as soon as possible. But even if the team is ok, I don’t know if they want be back for the next season (laughs!). For sure I will keep working on the next summer, taking care of my body, and we will see if I will come back.
It’s also very important for me to have success in Euroleague. It’s something I always have in my mind. Since I left Miami, being successful in Euroleague was all what I was thinking for. Me and coach talk often about the players who can make us better. We share ideas and opinions about who can help us and what type of players can get us where we want to go. This season we have a great roster. Now it’s only a matter of becoming a team. You know it’s not about the money. This is proven many times at Euroleague basketball. I wish I could have the career and the success guys like Spanoulis and Jasikevicius have accomplished in Europe”
Euroleague Top5 of Carlos
“I don’t want to miss somebody. That will kill me! Let’s say Spanoulis, Saras, Diamantidis, Navarro, Vujcic. Teodosic is also a really good player. But, his decision making sometimes is crazy”.
About the Eurohoops Top100 ranking and the reaction of the fans
“So, you are the guys to make this list (laughs!) I believe I took it in the right way. I put it in my Instagram page and said I feel fortunate about that. I really felt grateful, that’s why I made that post. You have to look it that way. Things now are different. I’m not young any more and the only thing that counts is my commitment with this club. I know the real facts, we didn’t reach the Euroleague final four the least seasons and I know that in that kind of concepts you have combine everything”.
The Puerto Rico national team and its issues
“It’s a sensitive subject. It’s going through many transitions right now. I want to step my foot away for a while. This is a team that needs more commitment. A lot of times what we are doing is not developing our young guys. You see a lot of more “American” guys playing for the national team, not Puerto Ricans who are born and raised in Puerto Rico. The federation let go our last coach after the World Cup. I have been with four coaches and four different stuffs. I remember changing GM’s all the last years. I have seen it all.
I am playing 13 years at my country’s team. I am very passionate when it comes to this team. Representing my country was a huge dream for me since I was a kid. They want us to be successful, but at the same time they don’t show that type of respect for the coaches and some of the players. Federations can make bad decisions, as everyone. But not bad decision, after bad decision, after bad decision. I expect the things to change for the better, because we haven’t been real competitive all the past years. Maybe the last 10 years. Our best performance was at 2004 Athens Olympics. So, they have to be better with the players, more serious, more patient to what this team represents. If we have that things, we can see a better team rising up and we can be more successful the following years.
We need to start taking better decisions when it comes to the national team. How the team is run, the team is managed, what players we are bringing to the team, the stuff and to be more serious to what’s going on to the national team. You need to know that the people in Puerto Rico are very passionate for the National Team. They really love the team. When the team leaves Puerto Rico for a tournament, the country whole stops just to watch us playing! We want Puerto Ricans to grow and be part of the team. To have the opportunity to represent their country. When you bring guys they don’t feel deep inside their heart what Puerto Rico means, it’s hard to have success. I can be here for days and talk about that. I have great respect for my country and my team. It’s a huge honor for me be a part of the team and grow up in this team”.