Whenever You Heard Baba You Knew That Murat Didin Wasn´t Far Away

On Easter Monday April 13th, 2020 it will be 10 years since Murat Didin was head coach of the Fraport Skyliners, but if you visited the Nordwestcentrum where the club practiced and lived back in the day and heard the word Baba being called there, you knew that Murat Didin wasn´t far away. It didn´t matter if you were a teammate, office employee or fan, you would be called Baba by Didin and vice versa. If you were to ask 10 random ex Skyliners who played for the Turkish teacher then, I would bet that at least 8 out of 10 players would remember the Baba calling first before any other memory and he had many lasting memories in his parts of 5 seasons of being coach there. If it was reaching the 2005 BBL league final, witnessing the unforgettable game 5 playoff win in Leverkusen or the bitter ULEB Cup loss to Anwil where the club had 6 players on the court and were hit with a technical to lose the game. There were countless positive memories that the organization had with Didin not to mention the many great players that he had and in between all the memories, the day to day basketball life and Baba callings were a routine matter. I hadn´t spoken to Murat Didin in many years and honestly had lost contact to him. Last year I got in contact with his son Ahmet who is nearing the end of his studies in Berlin and asked for his dad´s number and got it. We wrote a bit on WhatsApp last year and with Corona having hit the world so severely and with basketball stranded like so many other things, I decided to get in touch with him and talk about the present and the past. I reached Murat on a Saturday night, a time where usually basketball is filling my time, but with Corona your at home and obviously have more luck of being able to contact people. The Coronavirus is a heavy topic for all, but before the 65 year old and I discussed the world wide problem, I had to ask him about the famous Baba name. There was a short pause and then a warm laugh sounding like he was happy that he could talk about the word that became like a house hold name in the Basketball City Mainhatten training facility of the Skyliners. “ Baba means father and if you call someone that who isn´t your father then it means like your acting as a father. People called me Baba because I helped a lot of players reach a high level. I was like a father helping them. Two nice memories of Baba was in Frankfurt when the fans made signs with the words “Baba stay with us” and with Besiktas they made a poster. These two experiences were very unforgettable for me”, explained  Murat Didin. Didin has had a fascinating basketball career and it is only fitting that he is portrayed in my Miles where are they now series.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber getting last minute pre game information from Murat Didin during the 2005 BBL finals in Bamberg

                Obviously the life of Murat Didin has revolved so much around the game of basketball, but in these current hard times, the Turkish basketball ambassador is able to take a short break from basketball and reflect on the Coronavirus. As I began to ask the first question about it, I could sense in his voice that this is something that has truly affected him even if his family are all safe and healthy. He has seen how the world has suffered and is a very unhappy camper. “When the whole Coronavirus broke out in China, I feel like the world took it just as news. I believe that the world underestimated it and no one thought it could become so bad. I also didn´t think it would come to this. I am lucky that I live in a clean country where people pay attention to hygiene. The same is for you in Germany. I have been following many news outlets including German ones, CNN, Chinese television and the BBC. I feel that the world has to know after this that when there is a world problem that it could become their problem. We have to take care of our world and know and care about our neighbors”, stressed Murat Didin. He is still living his life in Turkey, but also understands that one has to take this virus very seriously. “We have a big culture and education is very important now. A problem here is that some places are more educated than others. Some people had the idea that not knowing about this virus or thinking about it wasn´t important, but that is wrong. I think now with what it has done to the world, people are understanding more that the virus is our enemy. This has been a huge enemy for the world. I give my condolences to all the people and families that have been effected worldwide”, stated Murat Didin.

                From almost one day to the next, the basketball leagues stopped play in Germany which saddened many fans, but everyone understood that you can´t gamble with health. Ok almost all leagues shut down, but the easyCredit BBL in Germany have left the option of continuing sometime with a decision coming April 30th as to whether to continue or cancel the season. Didin is a bit torn from both sides as to continue to let leagues play or to shut down for the season.” I think the BBL is wrong. health comes first. The Euroleague is also contemplating finishing the season. If you don´t, then in 30 years if someone looks back and sees that in the 2019-2020 season there was no champion, you will have to explain why. I think it is important to keep regularity. Maybe Euroleague can play in July or August? The virus is very dangerous, but shouldn´t delay life forever. I wish that all leagues could play at sometime. At the end of the day you have to play sometime”, warned Murat Didin. There is still the idea if games are to be played to play them without fans. This wouldn´t hurt a league like the NBA, but would have severe consequences in a league like the BBL. Didin the great story teller that he is always has something in the back of his mind to make the interview answer great. “Normally it isn´t a nice thing playing without spectators. I remember I was commentating a Euroleague game between Alba Berlin and Galatasaray and there were no fans allowed. I remember talking with Alba Berlin CEO Marco Baldi who couldn´t believe that this had happened. Normally the club should be penalized by fees, but you shouldn´t punish the fans. I feel that you should finish the leagues without fans, but just this time”, added Murat Didin.

                It is no secret that the Coronavirus will deeply effect the world economy and even if basketball now has become unimportant as well as other sports and the entertainment business, there will be a time when these things will all resume again and one has to wonder how everything will resume and get back to normal. Didin is optimistic that countries and their clubs will have the opportunity to get out of this mess, but has some tips how it will be mastered best. “I remember when I was coaching in Germany that the prices for players weren´t too high, but normal. The player fees have jumped in the last years a couple 100 thousand, but saying it is millions is exaggerated. I feel that clubs in general should be managed better today. Spending money for the youth program is very important. I´m not talking only about basketball clubs, but any kind of business even the Pizza restaurant. I think that after Corona, clubs have to be more careful, more detailed and responsible. The good organizations that can do that will stay on their feet. I feel that whatever organization can find answers quicker and be more effective will survive”, warned Murat Didin. Seeing how the Coronavirus has affected the world in a negative way also has made Didin more reflective about life and even he has taken lessons out of the experience and learned new things. “I want to thank my family for letting me grow up where I never took anything as a big drama. Everything was ok with my health but as with others you always have ups and downs. Now with the Coronavirus, I have learned that there is nothing more important than health. The health of the family is very important. We are born to help our environment and surrounding is also important. We need to always help each other and create a positive environment. This is our first duty. Losing a basketball game is not the end of the world. We have to understand that life is a gift and we have to know it´s value”, warned Murat Didin.

Murat Didin during a press conference at the BCM in Frankfurt in 2005

                Didin has coached more than 30 years and 20 years in Turkey where he won numerous titles, coached the national team and helped develop young players. He also coached in Italy and coached in Germany for parts of 8 seasons with 5 in Frankfurt and 3 in Duesseldorf. However in the past years, he has taken a step back from coaching professional teams except for a season in Lithuania from 2018-2019. From 2013-2018 he didn´t coach at the professional level, but found other basketball outlets to showcase his basketball expertise. He got in to Turkish television commentating games something he still does today calling Euroleague games and also teaches the youth with various coaches clinics around the world. He also has helped produce children´s books which just another way for him to give back to the youth. Many people wondered why he wasn´t coaching anymore and there was a specific reason why he didn´t want to coach in Turkey during these years. In order to be successful, you need the right players. In Frankfurt and Duesseldorf, he had the reigns of control of selection, but in Turkey it wasn´t like that anymore.  “I´m am born to teach, but I couldn´t coach in these years. When I came back to Turkey, clubs were recruiting like a big family. That isn´t my style. You are seeing this in other countries as well. I´m born free and my heart and mind are free. No one can buy my spirit. It isn´t for sale. Also many of the big clubs had coaches in place. So I decided to work with kids”, added Murat Didin. Sometimes asking those very uncomfortable questions is difficult and even with a Murat Didin who is considered the best friend of the basketball journalist where it seems like no question is too harsh, I was very hesitant to ask him if he had been blacklisted in Turkey. I mean I had heard rumors that he had become unfavorable to coach in Turkey and wanted to know what he felt about this accusation. I didn´t know what to expect, maybe a Turkish outburst that I couldn´t understand, but I had absolutely no idea how he would react. I tried to ask him the question as softly and understandable as possible and I was pleasantly relived by his professional style. I could sense in his voice that the question hurt, but he tried to answer it as smoothly and as professional as possible. “Who said it? That is a big lie. There is nothing like blacklisting. That is like losing your honor. I have a big respect. Tomorrow I will be on Turkish television talking about Corona. I have never done anything wrong to be blacklisted. I am very proud of life”, warned Murat Didin.

                In the 2018-2019 season Murat Didin had a coaching challenge again coaching a division 2 team in Lithuania called Jonava Jonavos (Lithuania-NKL). Didin is a basketball junkie and he was definitely in the right place, because in Lithuania they eat, drink and live for basketball. The Turkish coach had a big reason why he went was because he had a friend there who was a big business man.  Both wanted to invest into the team. Didin and him had big goals wanting to get the team into the first division and make it a Eurocup team. Both had big goals for the club. But Didin and management had a different mind set. Whereas Didin wanted to focus on moving up, management didn´t want to move up as quickly. It was a big chance for the organization. Management didn´t feel the value of investing in players. But overall it was a new experience one for Didin and one that he won´t forget. He also had the opportunity to train young Lithuanian players who are the norm in lower leagues there something which was completely new since he had mostly been showing young Turkish players how to play the game for years. ”Young Lithuanian players don´t look as professional as young Turkish players, but they do have very talented players there. I remember we had this young player Justas Furmanavicius who had played NCAA at the University of Mississippi. He played the position 4 there, but for me he was a born 2. He began with us, but soon a Greek club signed him because he was so good. He reminded me of Alex King. Alex was also not a position 4 to me”, stated Murat Didin

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber´s and Murat Didin´s last face to face meeting in Duesseldorf in 2013

            His previous coaching job before Jonava Jonavos (Lithuania-NKL) was in Germany with the Duesseldorf Giants (Germany-1.Bundesliga) who had won the license of the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He was head coach there from 2010-2013 and played in the BBL the first season reaching position 18 and played in the Pro A in his last two seasons reaching the playoffs each season at position 6 and 3. Despite severe financial woes in his third year, the club found a way to block that all out and reached the Pro A final in 2013 losing to Vechta. It was another step for Didin in his coaching career, but at the same time he also was confronted with ups and downs. He wasn´t only head coach, but also was in charge of helping run the team something that he wasn´t able to master that well. The club filled for bankruptcy, but it wasn´t all his fault. “I went to Duesseldorf to have stability and I had good Turkish support. They signed many sponsors for 3 years. We had close to 1 million Euro budget. I felt that we could play well in the BBL with that budget. But it didn´t happen that way. The reason why we got financial problems in the third year was that the money for the third year was spent in our second year. I didn´t know that. When I found out we had zero budget in the third year, I went to the Commerz bank and they told me what happened. This was totally unexpected. This wasn´t professional. We had a nice president, but he wasn´t a basketball guy. We could of moved up but Ludwigsburg got the wild card. It was obvious it would happen because Alexander Reil became BBL president. My experience in Duesseldorf showed that anything can happen. I never thought something like this could happen in Germany. I did the best I could. I had to accept the result. At the end I paid all the players salaries out of my own pocket. If I had the chance to do this all over again today, I would do it”, stressed Murat Didin.

            Didin had his best years with the Frankfurt Skyliners. He had instant success in his first tour of duty in 2004-2005. He led the club to the BBL final with the help of the Bermuda Triangle with German captain Pascal Roeller and the two special Americans Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis. It also didn´t hurt having special role players like Bernd Kruel, Kavossy Franklin and Spiros Panteliadis that came to the rescue more often than not He came back in March 2007 serving as a fireman for the departed Charles Barton saving the season and then led the club to two 6th place finishes in 2008 and 2009 and semi-final and quarterfinal runs which resulted in loses to Bonn and Oldenburg. In the 2009-2010 season he was let go late in the season as Gordon Herbert took over leading the team to the 2010 final losing a nail bitter 5 game series to Bamberg. Of course Didin has fond memories of his Frankfurt days, but one memory that will stay etched in his mind the most was that heart breaking game 5 loss in Bamberg in 2005. “The Skyliners had a good infrastructure and good fans. I wish that they would get their own arena. I am proud that I pushed for a second team which began in 2009 in the Pro B. It was 2-2 against Bamberg in the finals. I remember that game 5 being a very hot day. We had made good preparation on and off the court. I also remember Bamberg fans really knowing their basketball. We were simply unlucky at the end. There were 3 chances at the end and we had 2 and didn´t take advantage of it. Badiane missed a lay in and then Bamberg made free throws. We still had one chance at the end, but Ellis missed from the corner. Luck had a big effect on that day and we didn´t accept it. But Bamberg deserved it more than us on that day”, explained Murat Didin. That loss really hurt for him. He had won titles in Turkey before that, but to be able to win in Bamberg would have been special. The loss hurt so much that he hasn´t rewatched that game 5 often, but after 15 years, the pain has subdued a bit. “I have watched that game maybe once. If you find it, please send it to me”, chuckled Murat Didin.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Murat Didin in Frankfurt in 2005

            Didin has coached hundreds, probably thousands of players in his basketball career. He has big talents and special players that he has guided along the way. But he has also had a few very special players and one of those was Chris Williams. On March 15th,  2017, 4 days before Didin´s birthday, a huge tragedy happened as the athletic forward that many called big smooth passed away at only the tender age of 37. This was a big shock in the basketball community and it also hit Didin hard. He remembers it as if it was yesterday. His voice came very quiet and I could sense some severe sadness within him. “I was in Turkey. Someone told me Chris Williams had died. I quickly asked did he play in Germany? The man said no he played for Turk Telekom. I knew right away it was him. I couldn´t believe my eyes. I was very upset. I still couldn´t believe it and went online and did a search. Then I read that he had suddenly died. At that moment the first thing that came into my mind was that amazing Euroleague win in 2005 with Frankfurt over Panathinaikos where Miro Todic made the winning basket. I didn´t only remember that last shot, but also Williams´s key rebound at the end. I called Tyrone Ellis in Spain. That was the only number that I had of him. I didn´t know that he was living in the States. It was a big shock for me. If I would to make a lifetime roster of the best players that I have coached then Chris would be one of them”, stressed Murat Didin. When you coach a high class player like Chris Williams, you don´t have 1-2 amazing memories each week, but you have one every day and memories to last a lifetime. It wasn´t easy for Didin to choose one golden memory of Chris Williams, but he was able to share one. “I remember during the Euroleague season we lost to Treviso on a last second shot. We then beat Malaga at home and then had a road game at Pau Ortez. Pascal Roller wasn´t 100% and had injury issues and Spiros Panteliadis was sick. I remember having a team meeting in the hotel and telling the guys that we would be having a very difficult game. I remember telling the team to please stay in. So then soon after I see some players leaving the hotel and Chris Williams leading in front. I couldn´t believe what was happening. So when they came back I confronted Chris. He looked at me and said hey baba, the guys didn´t want to stay in so I took them out. Don´t worry, I will repay you tomorrow. I asked him how do you want to do that? We will win and I will do everything on the court. He was right we did win. After the game he came to me and said see I promised we would win, but please let me go to the casino again”, laughed Murat Didin. Williams began his career at Virginia(NCAA) and began his pro career in Australia before coming to Frankfurt in 2003 where he played two seasons. After Frankfurt he would play in South Korea, China, Turkey, Philippines and Iran. However, but for some reason after his stay in Frankfurt, I was waiting for him to become that great Euroleague player, but it didn´t happen. It felt like he wanted to take the more comfortable route with great money instead of taking maybe a step back and finding the right fits that would lead him towards a Euroleague career easier. He had good statistical years like in the very offensive Chinesse league with  Qingdao Double Star (China-CBA) averaging 27.7ppg, 11.3rpg, 5.5apg, Steals-2(4.3spg), 1.3bpg, and in his second year 23.9ppg, 9.1rpg, 3.5apg, Steals-1(3.8spg), FGP: 59.4%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 65.1% and winning 3 titles, but for some reason I expected him to play more in Europe. Perhaps the NBA could have been an option or was he just a professional player at the wrong time for that NBA opportunity? “Chris had no shot for his size. He had to always penetrate. He did improve his shot, but for his size at that time, it was impossible for him to play under the basket in the NBA. He did have that European smart mind”, added Murat Didin.

            Didin also has fond memories of the other two thirds of the Bermuda Triangle with Tyrone Ellis and Pascal Roller. Today Ellis is head coach of G-League team Stockton Kings and Roller is a businessman in Duesseldorf. “I coached Tyrone 3 years. Two in Frankfurt and one year with Besiktas. He was a very smart player. I feel that he could have been even better if he had taken better care of his body. We had a good friendship even if he was under my constant pressure. I always tried to help him become better. I always told him that he had more capabilities and that he can do better. I think that these experiences will help him now as a coach. What I will remember most about Pascal is that he was always very happy winning any game. The second time I saw him most happy was when he bought his first house. I will also never forget his smart play that helped us win in Wurzburg. There was 1,5 seconds to play and we had a throw in from the side and he threw a touchdown pass to Williams for the win”, stressed Murat Didin. You could spend a day with Murat Didin and experience how great of a storyteller he really is. He is so good, he could easily charge money. Because he has been around the basketball block for so long and has many to tell. I could of asked him so many more questions and this long article could have become like a book, but I had to keep an eye on the number of questions I had. There was a question I always wanted to know and that was why the Frankfurt Skyliners never signed Robin Benzing. Benzing was a huge German talent that almost went to Michigan(NCAA), but then opted to begin his career in the BBL. He would go on to have a stellar basketball career that found him playing for ratiopharm Ulm, FC Bayern Munich and Wurzburg in Germany and he also made the jump to the Spanish ACB playing 3 years for Casademont Zaragoza  and played a season with Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). He began his career with TV Langen that had a cooperation with the Skyliners in 2008 and he was tearing up the Pro A and it was only logical that he would land with the Skyliners sometime, but he never did. I remember seeing the trio of Benzing, Sebastian and Kai Barth practicing in the BCM after press conferences. I was under the impression that Didin didn´t like Benzing, but that was false. He wanted Benzing in Frankfurt. “I watched Benzing a few times and told Gunnar Wobke to sign him tomorrow. The problem was that Benzing´s father was tough. He felt that the kid still had time. If he had been born in Belgrad then Partizan and Belgrad would have been fighting over him. I said let him come. He was cheap. I told Gunnar to pay him extra. That weekend we were in Hamburg playing the cup top 4. I was ready to put him in the starting 5 against Duesseldorf without him having played a single game with the Skyliners. Gunnar thought I was crazy. He was born to be a basketball player. In the end he left for Ulm”, stated Murat Didin. Didin was also responsible for getting Quantez Robertson in 2009. Robertson came to Frankfurt not offensively gifted, but as an incredible defender that could be that lock down player on the defensive end. He would vastly improve as an offensive player, but even more important become that great all-around player that would make a career out of filling the stat sheet with ease. His only real deficiency was his three pointer which has always been a work of progress. He may have even have had a shot at the NBA had he had a more steady shot. 11 years after Didin got him, he is still with the Skyliners and the clubs second identity figure in their history after Pascal Roller as well as an identity figure together with Rickey Paulding in the easyCredit BBL. Getting Tez as everyone calls him in Frankfurt wasn´t an easy task for Didin. “When I told Wobke about Tez, he told me to send some tapes. I told him no. When you watch his game you will never take him. I told Gunnar will you take a guy who goes 1/9 from the free throw line and 0/3 from outside?  You would say why would we take a guy like him. Well he is a real good player. If there is any hole on defense, he will close it. I told him that he will improve his shot. Gunnar then said, he is wearing #23 and trying to imitate Michael Jordan, but he has no shot. I then said all kids are imitating Jordan. I told Gunnar that we have to take him. Gunnar told me that I had full responsibility. Look now he is still in Frankfurt. I am very proud of him”, stated Murat Didin.

            There weren´t only special players that Didin coached in Frankfurt, but also special unforgettable games that he also never forgot. The 2008 game 5 semi-final loss at home to the Telekom Baskets Bonn was a heartbreaker, but the series before against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen, Frankfurt had more luck beating them in 5 games on the road. That game 5 was a hard fought low scoring game and with just seconds remaining Pascal Roller hit free throws for the 1 point lead, but Leverkusen still had one last chance. It was ex Skyliner Tyrone Mccoy who attempted the last shot with a penetration to the hole and failed. More than 12 years later, I met Tyrone Mccoy again at the Fraport Skyliners 20 year anniversary party and I just had to ask him about that last shot. He still feels like he was robbed and should have had free throws. “I think it is only normal that he said that. I don´t think there are too many players that get fouled in traffic in a situation like that who wouldn´t  say they got fouled. What can I say, It was a tough call. I´m just happy we won the game. German basketball can be very happy that they are up at the top in Europe with officiating”, added Murat Didin. Another game in Skyliner history that won´t be forgotten so soon was a bitter ULEB Cup loss against Polish team Anwil. Frankfurt had a chance to win the game, but let it out of their hands. The score was dead locked 65-65 with 5 seconds to go and Frankfurt had their destiny in their own hands, but faltered. Frankfurt was called with a technical with 6 men on the court and lost the game. In the Fraport Skyliners book 111 reasons to love your club it states that Jimmie Hunt had a sleeping disorder. Did he miss the call to stay at the bench? “No Jimmie did nothing wrong. I wanted Alex King to inbounds the ball, so he hesitated so I let Jimmie do it. It was Dominik Bahiense De Mello that should have been on the bench. There was a lot of commotion. The Anwil players were all standing at the bench and De Mello was near there. He didn´t hear me. He thought that he was still in the 5, but I wanted him substituted. He was a young player and that kind of thing can happen”, said Murat Didin.

Children´s books made by Dünya Cocuk Akademisi which Murat Didin is a part of now

                The press conferences were always very entertaining with Murat Didin. He didn´t shy away to openly criticize his players especially the centers, but he also knew when to stop and say that famous phrase that the reporters heard at every press conference. “Gentlemen this is not for writing”. He chuckled when I reminded him about this famous phrase and wasn´t prepared to give me something for writing that once wasn´t for writing. “I can´t remember something that wasn´t for writing then. It was many many years ago. There were too many stories, but If I remember one, I will definitely tell you”, commented Murat Didin. It is almost 10 years ago where Murat Didin was let go. The date was April 13, 2010 and in all the years since then he never ever thought what may have happened to the club if he had finished that season. Because he isn´t a what if guy and is always looking forward. “I never ever thought what would have happened had I finished the season. What is done is done”, warned Murat Didin. Didin really had a very nice stay with the Fraport Skyliners giving the team success and also helping it develop further into becoming more of a top BBL club at that time. But what is a bit of a shame is that he hasn´t kept the relationships that he had then. “Life is really loaded and is going quick. Unfortunately I don´t have too much contact to the Skyliners organization anymore”, added Murat Didin. He can also go into his story crate and pick out very memorable stories he has had with other well known basketball figures. One of those is the legendary Israeli head coach Pini Gershon who has won 7 league titles and 9 cups with Maccabi Tel Aviv as well as back to back Euroleague titles in 2004 and 2005. Didin was able to get Gershon and his teams Olympiakos in 2007 and Macabbi Tel Aviv in 2009 to Frankfurt for test games. The games were closed to the public, but I was able to attend because I was a member of the press. I remember seeing incredible players like Scoonie Penn, Alex Acker, Carlos Arroyo, Marcus Fizan, Marcus Brown and Alan Anderson. All played in the NBA except Penn. Gershon was that special character that liked having it only his way and even was prepared to have the game stopped with Olympiakos because he was unhappy with the officiating. Didin was used to the Gershon antics and remembers his friend well. “Pini is a funny guy and smart coach. At the moment he is a little tired of coaching. He has a managing position with the Israeli basketball Federation. He has invited me to give a coaching clinic in Tel Aviv and I will go. He is a special guy that has won a lot including the Euroleague. He has helped a lot of young players reach a good level of basketball. If I call him at midnight, I know that he will have something funny to say”, said Murat Didin.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Murat Didin in Frankfurt in 2008

I have only positive and fond memories of Murat Didin. I don´t want to reveal too much, because there is a chapter about him in my new book which hopefully will be released at the end of the year. If I had to name one coach that I enjoyed most covering in my 17 year career then it has to be Murat Didin. In Frankfurt I have covered him and also Gordon Herbert the longest. Herbert is more the serious guy and I also had a good positive working relationship with the Canadian and could call him anytime for that special quote for an article, but he isn´t necessarily the guy that I would hang out with. Didin was a lot different. He knew when to separate work and pleasure. He was a smart guy, because he knew how to get the press on his side. His whole character and personality is one that you just have to like if your  a journalist or fan, but not necessarily if you’re his player. He is a very tough coach, just ask Tyrone Ellis, Alex King or Illian Evitimov. Lucky for me, I wasn´t a player, but a reporter who covered the Skyliners on radio and online and I can´t ever remember a moment where he was in a bad mood when I had dealings with him. He was always prepared and willing to give me an interview and I really appreciated that about him. As I already stated earlier, he was a magnificent storyteller and in general just a real nice guy. I know other people haven´t had the best experiences with him, but I´m just lucky that I was able to see his good side. The last time that I saw him was in April 2013, when I covered a Pro A semi-final game where he and Duesseldorf beat Nurnberg to reach the final. After the game, he invited me into the VIP room and we chatted which at that time, I didn´t know would be for the last time face to face. After that I had very very little contact until 2019 where we got active again over social media Recently we started getting more active over WhatsApp. I thought it was time for an article on Murat Didin´s career and am very happy that I could interview him again and connect again after such a long time. It was a real pleasure. Soon I will be getting mail from Turkey, but it won´t be addressed to me but to my 3 year old son Evan. Didin may not be coaching a professional team at the moment, but being a teacher gives you the possibility to teach in so many area´s and in so many age groups. At the moment he is giving back to the future of tomorrow so It´s absolutely no surprise that he is thinking about my son first instead of me which is nothing bad, but just very refreshing. He was nice enough back in the day when he was coach of the Skyliners to allow me to perform my job to the fullest. Now he is nice to me again, but in another way in that he is reaching out to my son and thinking about his future something that he by no means is expected to do. But I thank you Baba for your generosity. I definitely will teach Evan a new word. I wonder how quickly Evan will say Baba?

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