Credit: FIBA Media
Credit FIBA Media

One season proved to be more than enough for Dee Bost to capture the hearts and minds of Galatasaray NEF Istanbul fans. 

His new Twitter profile was created in May 2022. In less than six weeks, it has drawn more than 8,000 followers. That's a pretty impressive number by any standard. But Bost has an explanation for it. 

"It's all due to the huge fanbase at Galatasaray," he tells BasketNews a few days before leaving Turkey for the United States.

"They have over 25 million fans throughout the world. For them, us making a run in the playoffs and reaching the semifinals was a huge accomplishment, especially when last year they were one game away from being relegated."

Bost succinctly described Galatasaray's rollercoaster ride in one sentence. With two notable exceptions (the Turkish League title in 2013 and the EuroCup trophy in 2016), one of Turkey's most popular teams had been like a sleeping giant for years.

While their perennial rivals, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, were tasting EuroLeague Final Four glory for the first time and Anadolu Efes - coached by their ex-tactician Ergin Ataman - were making a triumphant back-to-back run to the top of Europe, Galatasaray fans had to console themselves with the playoff semis - at best.

"I knew about Galatasaray before I came to the team because I had played in Turkey for Trabzonspor before. The last couple of years hasn't been the best for them and their fans. So, this year was huge, although we didn't accomplish anything," Bost argues.  

The 32-year-old guard, who landed in Istanbul in August 2021 on a one-year deal, was one of the main reasons behind his team's impressive late run in the Turkish League following their early elimination from the Basketball Champions League.

Andreas Pistiolis replaced Ekrem Memnun in late March, but the Greek wasted no time after assuming head coaching duties for the first time in his career. 

Seven straight regular-season wins propelled Galatasaray to the BSL playoffs, where they locked horns with FIBA Europe Cup winners Bahcesehir. Led by Bost, who neared a triple-double in Game 1 (21 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) and dropped another 20 points in Game 2, Galatasaray once again reached the semifinals.

The ending to the season was rather bittersweet, as the blowout win over reigning EuroLeague champs Anadolu Efes was succeeded by three defeats in the next four outings.

However, Bost maintains that this has been a year to remember.

"Early in the season, we had a two-month period when we only won one or two games. We were in a hole," he recalls.

"Nobody wanted to even come to practice, nobody wanted to play. We were like, 'Let's get this over with and move forward.' Once you go into this type of mood, having these fans adds more to it. Some were still supportive, but others were bashing me and my teammates," he points out. 

That's when Pistiolis came in, carving out an identity for the team. The 43-year-old had served as an assistant to Dimitris Itoudis at CSKA Moscow for seven years and caught on in no time. 

After a losing streak, a losing culture sets in. Galatasaray needed a string of victories and another mindset. Listing the elements that Pistiolis wanted to change overnight, Bost points to one word - confidence. 

"He came in and said, 'It's the mentality of the team that has to change.' He also gave confidence, setting the tempo immediately. He said it was more about the team's mental state than about talent."

Indeed, Galatasaray lost the very first game where he was there but didn't coach (a home defeat by 76-63 to Belediyesi). Bost says Pistiolis paid a visit to the locker room and said, "This isn't a defeat, for me, you played well. I've seen a lot today that we can fix."

His words confused everyone, but Bost stresses that it gave confidence to the team.

"Immediately when he came in, in his first video session with me, Melo Trimble, Devaughn Akoon-Purcell, and others, he said, 'Listen, this is not winning basketball.'

We were playing a little bit wild. But he didn't offend us; he made us respect him more. We started to love and enjoy basketball again. We went on a run, beating teams like Fenerbahce, Efes, and Besiktas. That made the season more memorable," Bost says. 

In an interview with BasketNews' Uygar Karaca, Melo Trimble said that initially, he was having a hard time adjusting and learning how to play off-ball more than he had ever done.

He stressed that the presence of many good scorers didn't allow everyone to use the ball to the team's best interest. The fact that the squad managed to project a different image and level up its game after Devaughn Akoon-Purcell went down with a foot injury and Isaiah Canaan stepped in can be attributed to many factors and persons. 

"DAP and Isaiah are two different types of players. DAP plays above the rim, he's a slasher that needs the ball to be successful and to create his own points. Isaiah can create his own points off the dribble, but also up and down the staggers, playing without the ball," Bost explains.

Trimble was a different case, though. Adjusting one's game to fit his teammate's style of play isn't the easiest venture, although, in the case of Galatasaray, everything worked out in the end. Bost's experience proved to be most helpful. 

"With Melo, in the beginning, we had to learn how to co-exist. Melo was used to dominating the ball. Me playing in Europe my whole career, I was helping him adjust to how to play with other scorers. I think he learned well and fast.

Honestly, he's one of the most talented scorers I've played with. Not only because he can score, but because he can see the court really well. With Andreas, he improved his court vision," the Mississippi State graduate says. 

Bost says Pistiolis reminds him of his former coach at AS Monaco, Sasa Obradovic: "With regards to his smartness, his knowledge of the game."

Nevertheless, the two have different approach and style.

"Pistiolis' approach isn't as strict. He demands, but he's not forcing you to do it. He tries to instill it in your mind, giving you the freedom to be yourself. He won't let you do whatever. Galatasaray is a huge club, and they're lucky to have him for the next years." 

That being said, Obradovic and Pistiolis have another thing in common. They both managed to turn almost irreversible situations around, as the Serb changed Monaco's fate this season, leading the team to the EuroLeague playoffs.

Bost was hardly surprised watching his former team undergo a drastic transformation.

"Me and him were talking before he went there. We had a one-hour meeting when he was there, and I went to Monaco to get my things," the 2021 EuroCup champ remembers.

"He's more than a coach to me, someone I respect. When he signed, I knew that everything would change because his approach is different. He has a winning mentality and won't settle for anything less.

I knew that he was going to change the culture, even if it meant arguing or fighting players. But that's his style," Bost points out. 

The guard hailing from Concord, North Carolina, had two different stints with Monaco. The first one was in 2016-17 when they were still an up-and-coming team, and the second was quite recently, from 2019 through 2021.

Now, Bost can proudly say he has been among those who essentially put Monaco on the map of European basketball.

"My first year there wasn't good," he admits.

"We had the best record in the LNB, finishing in the first place. But we didn't win anything. It was a failure for me the way everything played out. So, I felt like I owed them some major title.

That's why I returned there when I left Khimki. I had other offers that summer, but I thought I could try and bring something to Monaco. It's like my home. I'm always welcome there."

Credit Imago-Scanpix

Bost's special relationship with the club from the Principality was tested in November 2016, when coach Giorgos Bartzokas tried to sign him at FC Barcelona.

In the end, Monaco insisted that the player stays with them, although Bost was more than willing to return to the EuroLeague after his 2015-16 run with Polish Zielona Gora.

"I didn't have a buy-out clause in my contract with Monaco. At the time, Barcelona had offered a lot of money to Monaco and some players in exchange. But Monaco didn't let me go," he says. 

It was a missed opportunity that Bost had to handle the right way. Barcelona were going through tough times back then, but that hardly made any difference. 

"Of course, it's Barcelona! Who wouldn't want to play for a legendary club?" Bost asks.

"I asked them if they would let me go, and the president and GM told me they wouldn't. Normally, a player would be kind of upset."

Bost admits that at first, he was indeed upset: "But not to the point of causing problems and forcing my way out. I'm a professional, I respected their decision. I told them that my attitude wasn't going to change. I would keep playing hard, staying focused."

Eventually, he did get to cross paths with Bartzokas when the two coincided at Khimki. However, neither of them made it through the season. The Greek coach was fired in January 2019, while Bost followed a month later. 

"He changed Olympiacos' culture back to winning ways in the EuroLeague. He also gave me the chance to play EuroLeague again, which has probably been my last chance," Bost holds.

Given the fact that Galatasaray will be playing in the BCL next year and there's no direct connection between that competition and the EuroLeague, it looks like we've seen the last of him in the EuroLeague.

"Unless someone comes with an offer and has a lot of interest for me to play in EuroLeague, I can't see myself there again. But I've been happy wherever I've played.

I won a EuroCup title (in 2021), and I want to win more wherever I'm at. When I was younger, it was my goal. But my situation didn't work out," Bost reflects.

Galatasaray's success partly changed the American guard's relationship with social media. Getting some thousand followers is one thing; interacting with them is another.

Four years ago, the same player who reached the apex of his popularity during the recent Turkish playoffs had promised to stay away from the social media hype while the French LNB playoffs were on.

And that's what Dee Bost did, in total contrast to what happened in 2022.

"I go through times when I'm not mentally there to interact with people," he admits.

"Some other times, I'm depressed, and it sometimes helps me get through it. But in the majority of times, if I'm in a depressed stage, I don't want to be bothered, and I rather not interact," he continues. 

In the summer of 2021, Bost was coming off of one of the best seasons of his career, having averaged 11.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.2 steals in the French League, and 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in the EuroCup with AS Monaco.

In the 2021-22 campaign, he logged 14.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.7 assists over 34 Turkish league games. 

"I wish the season wasn't over, but right now, I'm resting and waiting to see what's next," Bost says.

His free agency has been a topic for discussion among Galatasaray fans. The experienced guard has voiced his wish to stay with the team. In this respect, he has already had a few discussions with the Turkish team's management regarding a new contract.

"Yes, they mentioned that they want to keep me," he concurs. 

Bost describes what the deal could look like.

"It's a lot that goes into play. I'm 32, I want a two-year deal, and everything has to be correct. It's not all about the money to a certain extent."

Recently, the club's GM, Turgay Zeytingoz, said that Bost has "a very serious sense of belonging both within the team and within the community. There is a strong desire on both sides to stay together. I think he will be with us next year."

Bost shares Zeytingoz's optimism and reveals that the deal between the two sides is almost done. 

"I can say that right now, chances are 90-10 that I'll stay. That's how I feel."

"But anything can happen," he notes, adding a slight touch of doubt.

Holding a Bulgarian passport since the summer of 2016, Bost has played with the country's national team both in the EuroBasket and in the World Cup Qualifiers. But now, the occasion is special since the Balkans team has come back to a EuroBasket for the first time since 2011.

For starters, Montenegro, Georgia, Spain, Belgium, and Turkey will stand in their way. Bost's reaction to the above lineup is one of surprise.

"Damn, that's a tough group!" he exclaims.

"I told them I'll be there. I need to see the situation with my team, wherever I'm at. It will be fun to play against those types of teams. As of now, I'll be there," he repeats.

Bost says that even though he doesn't use the passport anywhere, playing with Bulgaria has been a blessing.

"I'm trying to make the most out of every situation. I've had a lot of fun helping them get back to the European stage," he says.

Whatever happens, the American guard underlines that it will be his last go-round with them.

"I'm 32, and I need some rest. I feel like I have nothing else to prove. I want to win more trophies in my career, but playing for Bulgaria doesn't give me an advantage or disadvantage. Teams know me, and I just want to show my loyalty to them."

Galatasaray fans can expect nothing less. 

Show comments
Thank you for reporting a comment

Add comment

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website