Nikola Milutinov was one the biggest signing of the Summer in EuroLeague by CSKA Moscow. The Serbian Center has just released an exclusive interview to BasketInside talked about his career, his covid-19 experience and many more arguments.
How are you Nikola? How was having Covid-19 both physically and mentally?
“I am feeling fine, thank you. The illness wasn’t really tough itself, the most difficult was to stay on isolation for so long. And even though I got all possible support from the team, and I was trying to do some exercises at home, it is quite difficult to get back into shape. First games were a real challenge and I believe I am still not 100 percent.”
CSKA’s super offer arrived this summer. What did you think when you heard about the offer?
“You’re right the offer was super, because it came from a great organization. CSKA showed its interest in previous year and now the time has come to make a next step. I really liked it in Piraeus, but now I am really enjoying to live and play in Moscow. CSKA works on the highest level possible.”
In June 2012 you signed a four-year contract with Partizan Belgrade. In July 2015 you signed a three-year contract with Olympiacos. 5 years later, three-years contract with CSKA Moscow. What player is Nikola Milutinov now?
“I think you see it better from aside. Surely, I am much more experienced and mature.”
How much did the experience at Olympiacos help you? How important were Coaches Sfairopoulos and Blatt for you?
“This was the greatest years of my life so far. Olympiacos is a European powerhouse, that says a lot. I had a chance to be on the winning team, to play alongside star players and for great coaches. It was amazing learning experience. Definitely coaches Sfairopoulos and Blatt played huge role in my development, I may call them my teachers for sure.”
Now at CSKA. At first sight, what are your impressions? Team, organization, city…
“Everything is top-level. I really enjoy it so far. We have our difficulties as we are basically building a new team that is aimed to win titles, and in the times we are all living in it goes through many obstacles. But as our coach says, every adversity is an opportunity. So we are trying to build on it.”
What coach is Dimitris Itoudis? Is there a teammate who has impressed you positively?
“Coach Itoudis has a great knowledge of basketball. And he is the one who wants to understand his players and who wants the players to understand him. Besides he speaks great Serbian so it’s easier for us to communicate. As for teammates we have so many great guys around. What makes is easier for me is that I know Dani and Janis from my Olympiacos times.”
Belgrade, Athens, Moscow. 3 cities where sport is a religion. Which similarities and differences have you noticed in your experiences?
“Belgrade was a start for me. And it was my native country. First step, first jump. Athens, Olympiacos is where I made a step forward to the top-level competition. Moscow is just another chance for me. All places are special to me in many aspects, you can’t answer in just few words.”
Partizan, Olympiacos, CSKA. Is the NBA the next step of the career of Nikola Milutinov or you think you will finish in the EuroLeague?
“I am just 25, hopefully I have a long basketball career ahead of me. I don’t want to look to far. I am happy with CSKA right now and I will do my best to help CSKA win as much as possible.”
How was your experience with Covid about Sports and Basketball? Did you agree with the decision to end last season and what do you think about this one? Does Messina’s proposal to suspend and resume in a few months make sense to you?
“I think it was a right decision to stop previous season, because nobody knew how to deal with new reality, there were no protocols of actions, the countries started to close. As for Messina proposal I don’t want to comment on it.”
In Italy your name has been approached at Olimpia Milano several times …. was there something true?
“I think every season I heard of different team interest to myself. I prefer not to think about virtual possibilities. I made my choices and I am happy where I am right now.”