Kyle Hines(CSKA Moscow) On His Way To Becoming The Tom Brady Of Euroleague Basketball

Kyle Hines is a 32 year old 198cm power forward from Sicklerville, New Jersey that is playing his sixth season with CSKA Moscow. He is a powerful player who loves to attack the basket. Has a good 1-vs-1 game and likes to go inside. He is undersized to play the power forward, but his great wingspan (7-1) allows him to guard taller players and to intimidate. He’s also a great leaper and reads the opponent’s game well. He played at NC-Greensboro (NCAA) from 2004-2008. In his senior year, he played 31 games: 19.2ppg, 9.1rpg, 1.4apg, 1.8spg, 3.1bpg, FGP: 55.6%, 3Pts: 12.5%, FT: 62.8%. He was invited to play at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 17.3ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.3apg, 2.3spg, 3.3bpg, FGP: 78.6%, FT: 72.7%. He then had pre draft workouts with Sacramento Kings and the Charlotte Bobcats (NBA). In 2009, he took part in the Orlando Pro Summer League (Oklahoma City Thunder). In 2009-2010, he stayed in Italy with Prima Veroli (Italy-Lega2) playing 40 games averaging 18.5ppg, 8.1rpg, Steals-2 (3.5spg), Blocks-4 (1.6bpg), FGP-3 (64.0%), 3PT: 18.8%, FT: 57.8%. He played NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (New Orleans Hornets) in the summer of 2010.In 2010-2011 he played for the Brose Baskets Bamberg (Germany-1.Bundesliga) playing 10 Euroleague games averaging 12.9ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 64.3%, FT: 46.7%; and in the German League played 46 games averaging 10.4ppg, 4.6rpg, Blocks-3 (1.2bpg), FGP-3 (61.1%), 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 52.4%. He won the double with Bamberg. He played for Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1) from 2011-2013 winning two Euroleague titles. got an exclusive interview which was the sites 16th with him dating back to his days in Bamberg in 2010-2011. 

Head Coach Dimitris Itoudis and Kyle Hines after winning the 2019 Euroleague title

Kyle thanks for talking to Before we start with the amazing 2019 Euroleague title, I have to ask you about a player you faced off against last week in the VTB game against Zenit. I know you have seen thousands of players in your career, but can at times a player that scored only 0 points make an impression on you? You faced off against Canadian sniper Philipp Scrubb a number of times this season. What memories will you have of him?

He is a talented player. He is a main reason why Zenit has been successful this season. He played very well against us the other times we played. He isn’t only a good scorer, but a great all around player. He does so much on the court that doesn’t translate to what you see on the stat sheet. He will continue to be a key player in the playoffs for them

Congrats on winning your fourth Euroleague. How good does it feel winning it again after doing it last in 2016?

It feels incredible to have won 4 titles. It just feels unreal. It’s already difficult to win just one, but to imagine winning 4 is hard. I still haven’t fully grasped this win. It has been an amazing journey. 

I am sure you got many many messages after the win. Did you get any special message from your ex coach Chris Fleming or was it just the normal blab la that one gets after a title like ‘great job Kyle or congrats Kyle?

I got a lot of different messages. I got a lot of messages from people from Bamberg. Tibor Pleiss also messaged me congratulating me on the win. Casey Jacobsen and his wife messaged me as did John Goldsberry. Chris Fleming didn’t directly message me, but one of his close friends on the Brooklyn Nets staff told me that Chris was really happy for me.

You last won the Euroleague with CSKA Moscow in 2016. How was this title different for you from the first one that you won with CSKA?

This one was different because we came in as underdogs. This Final 4 wasn’t an easy one for us. People doubted us or criticized us. Reporters were calling us too soft and didn’t think that we could come this far. Being able to win this title against Real Madrid is a huge achievement after our disappointing loss to them last year. This title showed just how much character we have and the type of players that we have. We showed that we could fight through adversary and be successful.

You have won so many titles in your career especially with CSKA. What did you enjoy most about the post game celebrations this time? I believe there were tears this time. 

Yes there were a lot of tears for this win. The thing I enjoyed most about this title was being able to celebrate with my family. This was the first time that I was able to have my whole family with me. My two kids were born in 2016. To have everyone with me now was great. To be able to share this experience with them made it truly special.

CSKA Moscow won a hard fought semi-final game against Real Madrid. One could say that that was like a final already. How vital was the semi-final win for the the team being able to cope better for the final game against Efes?

I think that being able to beat Real Madrid sparked us to be able to win the final. History has shown that we have had problems in semi-final games. This win over Real Madrid gave us extra confidence and momentum. Beating Real Madrid was huge. We showed so much passion coming back from 15 down and getting the win. We showed just how much character we have and the type of players we have that will do everything to get the win.

Did CSKA Moscow develop a special kind of self confidence and was able to up it’s mentality after getting the come from behind win against Real Madrid?

The win over Real Madrid definitely allowed us to take more weight off our shoulders. We had a difficult game last year where we had a lot of pressure. This year we showed that we could beat the defending champions and that definitely gave us extra self confidence going into the final. 

Real Madrid had the comfortable 73-68 advantage after 30 minutes. How key was the third quarter ending 7-2 run? The CSKA defense did a good job pressuring the Real Madrid guards and forcing some turnovers. 

That run was definitely key. Everybody on the bench kept saying that if we can get them to under 9 points then we will have a chance to win. That run gave us a huge boost. We have had similar games like that in the past like against Baskona and knew if we kept them under double digits that we could win. We knew that we hadn’t played our best basketball yet and it was still to come. We were fortunate that we showed our best basketball when it counted most against Real Madrid. 

How was the team moral after 30 minutes? Did you do anything out of the ordinary concerning your leadership skills?

I just did what I usually do which is keeping everyone positive and keeping the confidence up. I told them that we have been here before and that we could overcome the deficit. We knew going into the fourth quarter that we have been in that situation before and that we hadn’t played our best basketball yet that we still had a chance. It really helps is that we have so much experience on the team and guys that have won so many titles before. Guys have been in this position so often and just know what to do. 

How did head coach Dimitris Itoudis approach the few minutes between the third and fourth quarter. What kind of encouragement and tactical advice did he give the team?

He kept telling us that we hadn’t played our best basketball yet. We had been outhustled by Real Madrid and they had been beating us to the ball. They simply had been doing whatever they wanted with us. He made us realize that we were on the brink. This forced us to make the turnaround.

How vital was the huge offensive spark that Nando De Colo gave the team in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter? Could the game have become out of reach of winning had he not stepped up in a major allstar way?

Nando is our leader. I always tell him that we follow him. When he is at his best then the team is at their best. He was a little in foul trouble early and not playing his best, but then came his turnaround in the fourth and we followed him. His play was so important for us and showed just how important he is when he takes over. We followed his example and he led us to the win. 

How key was it keeping Spanish national player sniper Sergio Lull to 1/10 from outside? Was that one of the biggest key’s for the win?

He is such an explosive player and a guy that can score very much and help his team go on runs at any moment. We knew that we had to slow him down. We just tried to make everything difficult for him and make him have to work hard for everything. The stats showed that we made it hard for him, but it was a team effort. Slowing him down was a big reason for the win.

How proud were you of teammate Corey Higgins who iced valuable free throws at the end to the seal the win? He was one of the few guys that was with you during the2016 Euroleague win. Does an additional title like this cement that brotherhood feeling for life?

Corey was huge for us. We already had that special brotherhood feeling before this win. In my opinion he is one of the most underrated players in Europe. People really don’t give him the full credit for what he truly deserves for all the hard work and effort he puts in at both ends of the court. He has continued to develop each year. He went from being a role player in 2016 to being our best player in 2019. He leads us in many stats and is our most clutch player. 

In the final you beat Efes 91-83. This was a very hard fought victory for CSKA Moscow. They never ever let go and were always on your heels. What was key for getting the win over 40 minutes?

I believe key to getting past Efes was our ability to control the tempo, limiting their possessions and just putting them in difficult situations to score. They have a super balanced team with 8-9 players almost all averaging 10 points per game. We did a good job keeping them under average. We also did a good job putting more pressure on them causing more turnovers. 

Shane Larkin exploded for 59 total points in the 2019 Euroleague final 4. Do you feel like his explosive play and leading Efes into the final is his ticket back to the NBA?

I think that regardless of how he played in the 2019 Euroleague final 4 that he can play there. He has played well in Europe and also in the NBA. He is one of the most talented players in Europe. He has proven that with being able to make plays and lead his team to victories. 

In the big win over Real Madrid, the two stars Nando De Colo and Sergio Rodriguez exploded for 46 points combined, but in the final their combined points were shaved down to less than half at 21 points. What strides did the team character make in this Euroleague Final 4?

Our motto the whole season has been that we can’t depend on just one guy to do everything. We have a roster full of great players and have the deepest roster in Europe. We have that type of roster that when certain guys aren’t scoring then others will take over like a Corey or Will. Our roster was built that way that every guy can step up. 

With 21 seconds to go CSKA Moscow was leading 89-81 until Shane Larkin dropped two free throws. You knew you would win. What were some of your thoughts that were with you as the seconds were evaporating? Did the reflecting on your career go on later in the night?

I am always thinking about what could happen on the next possession. I was fully focused at that point to make sure that nothing could go wrong that might jeopardize our lead. I was most concentrated on holding the lead until the buzzer sounded. I can reflect on my career when I’m done playing.

As always you gave 180% in the minutes you got and had solid numbers at both ends of the court scoring 9 points in the final. How instrumental was your play in your opinion and what do you believe was your biggest asset that you gave the team?

I think my overall leadership and experience was my biggest asset. For me it has never been about the stats, but just to be able to make winning plays and put my team in the best position to win games. I am always focused on trying to help my team win. If that means setting a screen, getting a rebound, loose ball or block, I will do anything to turn the tables and help my team win the game.

You’re the first American ever to win four Euroleague titles. How does that make you feel and how do you feel when you are called a living legend?

I have been very blessed in my career to have been able to play in many Final 4’s and win many titles. I haven’t had time to reflect on my career yet. I’m still worrying about the next game. When the time comes, it will be nice to have a long reflection on my career.

Every Euroleague title has it’s own charm and memory for you, but if you had to rate your four Euroleague titles from 1-4 where would this fourth one be?

This fourth Euroleague title is the sweetest. It is always hard to rank titles, because everyone is difficult. As I get older I cherish every title more. You never know if you will get another opportunity. Being able to celebrate this title with my wife and kids made it so much sweeter. I will remember it my whole life. 

Does a fourth title like this wet your winning Euroleague appetite or have you noticed that the fire will be there and even stronger next season to win another one. 

I’m a competitor at heart. As soon as I finish this season, I will go into the off season and then will think about how we can repeat. I’m never content with just winning that last one. I’m always hungry to compete at the highest level and win. When that hunger is gone, then I know it will be time to hang it up. 

Are you the American Tom Brady of Euroleague basketball? Do you understand a guy like Brady who wants to continue to keep winning more with each new title. Is that continued Euroleague title winning inside you like a Brady?

God willing. I would love to play as long as possible. I will continue to work hard and let things take shape and play until the wheels fall off. Brady is one of the all-time greats in all sports. He is the Mount Rushmore of Football. To be mentioned or compared to him is very special and humbling.

Your head coach Dimitris Itoudis said this about you ‘The reason I have this man to my left [Kyle Hines] is that he’s a living legend. He’s a guy that I not only admire, but I also cannot express my gratitude. The way he treats all this group, united in the locker room when they’ve spent a lot of hours – this man is my left hand, my right hand, my stomach, my heart. He’s a living example. He’s ready to become a coach. He said it: ‘Guys, we’re finished. We’ve got to come over here in that gym and finish the job.’ That’s easy to say, it’s much more difficult to get it done and they did an outstanding job, the effort they put in, all these guys.’ With so many incredible players on the squad, how was a coach like him able to get the best out of each player?

We recognize his passion for the game and know how much he cares for us. He proves that each day. We bring the effort for him each day. We understand what he brings for us and want to bring the same effort for him. We have a very special bond with him and he with us.

How special is your relationship with Dimitris Itoudis? This is your fifth season playing for him. You have played for many coaches in your life, but how vital has he been in your development now as you continue to get older in your thirties?

Coach is very important to me. It has come to the point now that we don’t really have to talk to each other so much anymore. A lot of our communication is non-verbal. He has done a tremendous amount for my career on and off the court. He has done a lot to help me grow as a man as a leader. When I came to CSKA, I didn’t necessarily think that I could be a leader, but he helped me become vocal. 

You teammate Will Clyburn was named 2019 Euroleague MVP. You have spoken highly of him in the past. Could a performance like this put him on the radar of the NBA?

We saw the best of Will at the Euroleague Final 4. One saw the token of his game and he has proven each year that he gets better from every level he was at. I see his work ethic and attention to detail each day. I hope he stays with CSKA for a long time. Any team would be very lucky to have him on their roster. 

The season isn’t over yet as CSKA Moscow is battling for the VTB title which it has won 8 times and you 5 times. How can you follow up a Euroleague title. Will it take the team long to get back down to earth after the win?

The first day after winning we had that title hang over time. We relived the win, but after that we began to focus on the VTB playoffs. We are all professionals and want to defend our title. We know that it is never easy to win a title. We want to take full advantage and win it again. We are all concentrated and know that we have a job to do which is win the next one.

Have you been surprised about the season of the Milwaukee Bucks. They were knocked out by the Toronto Raptors to reach the NBA finals.

Not really. I’m a big Giannis fan. I know how hard he works and know how much he wants to be the greatest. I saw his desire on the court a few years ago

What was the last movie that you saw?

The Gladiator. It is one of the all-time greatest movies.

Thanks Kyle for the chat.

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