Errick McCollum and Malcolm Delaney don't believe that EuroLeague could become a players league due to the strict approach from most European coaches, cultural differences, and clubs' control of players.


Veteran American basketball players Errick McCollum and Malcolm Delaney aren't buying into the idea of the EuroLeague becoming a players league.

In a recent interview with BasketNews, EuroLeague CEO Marshall Glickman stated his desire is to make the EuroLeague players league. But these two high-profile American scorers who made successful European careers aren't convinced.

"It's interesting he says he wants it to be a players' league. We'll probably be long dead before that happens, Malcolm," the top scorer of the Turkish league, Errick McCollum, chuckled on the URBONUS podcast.

Delaney, currently a free agent, was equally skeptical.

"Man, it will never happen," he said, shaking his head in disbelief.

"The coaches would never allow it. What makes Europe different from America is that the coach has all the power. It hasn't worked financially when you're talking about it compared to the NBA. But it's worked for them as far as putting together a good product having good games, and creating that passion," McCollum explained.

"Europe is like college. You have a lot of people who are fans of a team, not a player. The NBA people are LeBron fans, so they go wherever he goes. Whatever player they like, they jump from team to team. But if you're a Zalgiris fan, you're there whether Keenan Evans is there and he leads. Whether Pangos is there, it doesn't change. I think with that college feel, players are controlled. It got to the point where you needed EuroLeague Players Association just to get your own room. They have to go and do something. It's just so far removed," Karsiyaka Izmir guard added.

McCollum, who has had a 13-year professional career playing in countries such as Israel, Greece, China, Turkey, and Russia, bases his skepticism on his personal experiences.

Points this season

Points made: 84,6
Accuracy: 49,3%
Place in standings: 1
Record max: 117
Record min: 60
Best scorer: Aleksandr Vezenkov

"Like, if you do anything interesting outside of basketball, you will receive a flag. Now I'm older, and when I do my podcast or certain stuff, coaches know my professionalism and what I do. They don't mind because they know how I handle the business. But if I was 25 years old and I was trying to talk to you on a podcast, they would say I'm not serious, I'm not focused on basketball. And it didn't matter if I went out there and I produced, and I shot the ball well. If I scored one, they would say I'm not focused," the URBONUS co-host explained. "That's the difference between Europe being a player association because they think all we can do is play basketball."

"I've been on teams where if a player wants to buy his own room, sometimes coaches are upset. Just because he wants his own space. You got to think we're grown men. You're buying your own room, you're not using the team's money, you're not up to anything like... You just literally want your own space because, a lot of times in these hotels, the beds are really small.

So you're talking about somebody who might be 6'8-6'9. I've been feeling small in bed, and I'm 6'2. So imagine these big guys. Or you might be stuck with the roommate who goes to bed early, and you want to be respectful to him because, in America, it's an 8-hour time difference," McCollum illustrated the issue.

"I mean, even if your family is traveling on a different flight that you paid for, but you want them to go to an away game, that can be an issue for some teams. Let's say your wife is there, and she loves basketball, so she wants to support you. And it's only an hour or two flight. And they have a problem there if they stay in the same hotel. It just depends, every team is not the same. But until they can fix these little issues, I don't see how it could ever be a players' league," McCollum concluded.

"Off-the-court stuff is very important. Having a glass of wine after a game... You couldn't do it. They literally wanted you to be a robot and play, practice, and be in your room," Malcolm Delaney jumped in.

"You could have friends or family on the opposite team or your actual team, but you can't go to dinner with them. You have to eat the same thing for 10 months. That was some of the stuff for me that I kind of got tired of. But I got lucky with my last three teams," Delaney added.

"Like, you can't have a life. Well... One day, you're not gonna be able to bounce the ball. And if you can't start the pivot and think about the future, what are you gonna do?" McCollum raised questions about the current status quo in Europe.

"I'm not complaining. I knew what I signed up for. I did 13 years over here I understand that there are a lot of perks. I'm blessed to play this game. I'm blessed to get paid for a living, and it allows me to take care of myself and my family. I just chalked it and took the L, like I knew this is how it is," he said.

"But you know, the truth is the truth, and a lot of people won't like to hear it. They'll say we're complaining or we're spoiled. But I'm just telling you why it won't be a players' league. You can be upset or not, it's your choice. But this is why it will never be until these little things can be changed. Because if you're worried about little things, you'll never accept the big things on the court. Even some point guards don't even have the freedom to call plays. They might be experienced or not, and the coach might call every play," McCollum expanded.

Delaney has a personal example of how coaches could handle their players.

"I think coach Bartzokas was probably my favorite coach because he was the first coach who wanted to make sure everybody was happy," he praised the current EuroLeague coach of the year.

"If you wanted to take your family on a trip, when he told us the rules we had, I thought this can't be a European coach," Delaney voiced his amazement with Bartzokas' approach during his tenure in Lokomotiv Krasnodar (2015-16).

"If you get three trips, your family wants to travel with you, they can travel on the plane, and you can stay in the same room. He was like, 'If we plan a good city, we got the next day off or two days off, y'all can stay as long as you're back before practice,' or stuff like that," Delaney went into detail.

"I haven't met many players who hate him. There's no way you can hate what he does. His practices, how he treats his players, and his communication. You might see him on a sideline and think this guy was crazy. But I've never seen a coach give the players as much freedom as coach Bartzokas. It wasn't just freedom. He just trusted his players more than any other coach," Delaney underlined.

Credit EuroLeague Basketball via GettyImages

Delaney also remembers how Bartzokas backed up both him and the entire team in confronting the Lokomotiv Krasnodar owner.

"I wasn't supposed to be there [in Lokomotiv], I was actually going to leave because they were cutting the budget. And coach Bartzokas wanted me for pretty much my whole career. He threatened the club and said, like, 'I've built the team around this guy, and if he leaves, I'm out too.' That was the first time I saw a coach actually go against the club for a player," Delaney was shocked.

Faced with budget cuts and a less-than-ideal location, Lokomotiv was forced to endure some major travel difficulties. This included the inconvenience of six-hour layovers in Moscow for the team on every road trip.

"We lost the game, and when we got back, they had a meeting with us in the airport. The owner was just like, 'yo, like, y'all gotta stop losing games.' And Bartzokas just stood up, and he was like, 'You give us the worst flights. We got [Kyrylo] Fesenko on the team. He's 7 feet 300 pounds. You got managers sitting in exit rows, but Fesenko is sitting in a regular chair. What do you expect from my team? I don't expect my team to win with the way you treat us. If you want us to win games, you need to change your approach on how you treat the players.' And after that meeting, everybody looked at coach Bartzokas and was like, 'yo, this dude really cares about the players,'" Delaney explained.

He also said that Lokomotiv players always had a day off after the game, even if the following game was in 2 or 3 days.

"He didn't care if you had a friend on another team and you said, 'look, coach, can I go eat dinner with my friend?' You didn't have to go to a team dinner to eat the same trash food for 10 months if you had a friend on another team," Delaney said. "He trusted that his player would go to dinner, be responsible, come back at a reasonable time, and go to work. I think that took us over the top that year. A lot of people were wondering why our team was so together so much. It's because, off the court, we were the same as on the court," Delaney recalled the year Lokomotiv surprisingly made the EuroLeague Final Four in 2016.

"In Europe, that's not a thing. It's like, this is how it is, buy into it or don't. That's why you see guys like Mike, who can kill in CSKA, but also, he and his coach are not on the same page. It's because of the typical European mentality. Or you see my situation in Barcelona. We had a great team, but me and Pesic, you know, it was just like a feud between small stuff. It was stupid stuff," Delaney recalled.

Delaney fully agrees with McCollum's conclusion and believes that turning the EuroLeague into a player-driven league would greatly enhance the European basketball experience.

"It's like Eric said until you get that small stuff out the way, you could never take that next step. Well, it'll never be a player's league. But to make players feel more comfortable, being themselves off the court as well, I think it'll translate better to European basketball.

Once players get their freedom and that happiness off the court, it does nothing but make them better basketball players. Having that strong foundation of these players and the coaches and these clubs that's the next step for European basketball. Once it makes that step, I think you'll see a better product," Delaney concluded.

Delaney couldn't help but smile at the thought of Olympiacos fans flooding Twitter with messages urging him to join the team following his comments about Bartzokas.

"They wanted to buy me out when I was in Munich. It's been every summer since 2013 I've been connected to Olympiacos. Coach Bartzokas hasn't called me yet, for the record, Olympiacos fans. I haven't got that call yet," he smiled again.

Watch the entire URBONUS episode:

URBONUS audio:

We want to hear from you. Be the first to comment!
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

Malcolm Delaney

Malcolm  Delaney
Position: PG, SG
Age: 33
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Birth place: Baltimore, United States of America