On August 20 the Utah Jazz announced the signing of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul assistant coach Erdem Can. The Turkish basketball specialist sat down for an interview with BasketNews' Uygar Karaca and talked about his career accomplishments, upcoming challenges with the NBA team, and ambitious future goals.

Before accepting a position with the Utah Jazz, were there any other coaching options in NBA, Europe, or Turkey? - BasketNews asked Erdem Can.

In the NBA, there are not offers but rather interviews. Yes, there were some interviews as a nominee for some other NBA teams. But as a principle, the names of the organizations are not revealed to the public. But for me, the Utah Jazz was special because there was a click. There was collaboration and cohesion during all those years. For both my personal development and my potential contribution to the organization, the Utah Jazz were much more important and special for me.

We remember that there were various offers and suggestions from the NBA back in 2019. But you said: "I would like to stay." What changed now? Did you want to take the next step in your career? Or this time the offer was more convincing? What was the decisive factor?

With full openness and transparency, which I think, is the right way at all times, I believe in honesty my entire life. My goal is not to be an assistant coach throughout my career, I don't have such a goal. My goal is to be recognized by everybody as: "The greatest coach in Europe" when the time is right.

In order to realize such a goal, you need to initiate some other things. Certain processes needed to be gone through. There are some steps to be taken. I felt there was a path for me to move towards becoming a head coach after Igor Kokoshkov's farewell. But when I assessed the possibilities on my table, if this head coaching opportunity was not there, then I should follow the path which gives me an alternative opportunity or a chance to continue this process to reach my goal of becoming a head coach.

Of course, there were some sacrifices and costs to be paid but I am aware of the risks. And I thought I should move in the light of all these thoughts and rather determined, I made this preference.

Were there any sorts of meetings regarding being the head coach of Fenerbache? Was there a dilemma between going to Utah Jazz or staying at Fenerbahce?

Fenerbahce is home. I grew up here and learned a lot here. Of course, working with Zeljko Obradovic and growing up in this culture is something else. Of course, you embrace the cub very strongly and you would like to be in here, reach success in here. To be associated with here becomes very valuable for you.

However, at the end of the day, you are not the one who makes the final decision. Then you have to move accordingly to the circumstances. As I said before, I took into consideration all those costs. This could be in monetary terms, but maybe more importantly, in sentimental terms. You will be away from your family. You will be apart from your beloved working environment, etc. But you have to make a choice in life. I think it is important to know when it is time to leave. That is my stance in life. You need to know when it is time to leave.

I think that was a thing I did. For all things I experienced here, I am very happy. And my conscience is very clear. Because I did everything that I could in this process for my club, the organization, and also for Turkish basketball. I did everything and I will keep on doing that.

Then, the issue of you becoming the head coach, was not on the table?

No, it was on the table. I was informed that my name was on the list of potential candidates. But apart from that, there were no other meetings on this issue.

You always emphasize your goal - becoming a head coach. At least after a certain period of your career, you would like to continue as a head coach. What is the ideal basketball that Erdem Can has in his mind?

The strategy should be decided by considering the player structure. All in all, this game is built on players. Regarding the offense, my own brand of basketball would be on a high amount of sharing the ball, with correct spacing, and correct movement based on the spacing. I would like to see my team share the ball, everybody touching the ball, which brings, in my opinion, a much more fun atmosphere to the game.

Regarding defense, there is one philosophy that I will never take a step back, or give concession to: toughness. We used to talk with Igor about the word "fight". For me this word is very motivating, pushing the players up to a higher level. And I use this concept a lot.

What are the differences between working with Zeljko Obradovic and Igor Kokoshkov?

Zeljko Obradovic's style of approaching the players on the court is hard and he is demanding. He gives a lot more importance to the fundamental details. Spacing and timing are essential.

But on top of that, it is really hard to compare Zeljko Obradovic with any other coach. I am telling this as someone who worked with many different coaches, not only as a Zeljko Obradovic die-hard fan. I also watched many coaches and competed with many coaches. I have never seen someone like him. He is unique. Therefore, it would not be very right to compare him with others. It is also an injustice to the others to compare them with Zeljko. He is unique and he has a separate place in basketball.

Credit En Son Haber

I do not know whether there will be any other coach as great as he is, but his photographic memory, his practicality, his way of approaching the players, his assessment of current events, his vision for the future, and the ability to make projections for what is to come, are very different. Comparisons would not be right.

If you are asking about Igor Kokoshkov without a comparative perspective, I can tell you that Igor is a big basketball mind. He has already shown these merits with what he achieved, the positions he reached, he has already proved this. But Igor needed a certain time and process to adapt to basketball in Europe.

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