Kyle Hines is a 34 year old 198cm power forward from Sicklerville, New Jersey that completed his seventh season with CSKA Moscow averaging 8,8ppg, 4,9rpg and 1,4apg in the Euroleague and 5,9ppg, 4,6rpg and 1,6apg in the VTB league. He recently signed with AX Armani Exchnage Milan after winning 2 Euroleague titles and 6 VTB titles with CSKA Moscow. He also won his first title with his new Italian squad beating Virtus Bologna 75-68 to clinch the Supercoppa title. He played at NC-Greensboro (NCAA) from 2004-2008. In his senior year, he played 31 games averaging 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. germanhoops.com conducted it’s 20th interview with him earlier in the summer during the COVID-19 period.
Thanks Kyle for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is your current mood with all the drama going on in the States?
I’m home right now in New Jersey. There is really a lot going on at the moment. Every one is dealing with the COVID-19 and social distancing as well as with the economy and how that will keep going. In the last week we have been seeing a lot of the racial protests. 2020 has been a very trying time that has impacted so many lives. All we can do is stay positive and worry about what we can control.
While most basketball seasons were cancelled in Europe, you remained longer in Russia waiting to hear if the Euroleague would start up again. When did you leave Russia and did it surprise you that the whole Covid-19 got worse after it didn’t have much of an effect at the start?
I have been home a while now. It has been about 2 months. My family and I left before they closed the boarders. We felt it would be better to be home just in case a loved one got sick. I have a yard here and my kids have a lot more space. I think the reason it didn’t spread right away at the start in Russia was because people thought that it was under control, but it really wasn’t. The Russians have been affected greatly by the COVID-19. CSKA lost it’s doctor. It is really sad. I feel for my Russian teammates who are going through COVID-19 now.
How disappointed are you that the Euroleague season was cancelled. Why was the overall fear of the players to play this tournament so great? In Germany the players had nothing to say as the league and teams decided on playing the season. Do you feel like if the players wouldn’t have had a say that you might be playing Euroleague now?
I feel that the Euroleague did a great job in including the players in their decision. The Euroleague showed that it was a leader unlike many of the other leagues who are old fashioned and dictate the players and doesn’t allow them to speak. The players have their mind and the right to voice their opinion, because they are the ones effected. The Euroleague listened to the players which was a good thing. The players respected the competition and felt that if they had played that they wouldn’t have presented a good competition. We didn’t want to have that situation where the winner would be decided over which teams had access to a gym and not. There were a lot of teams like us that couldn’t practice. We thought not playing out the season was the best route. We also thought that we didn’t know how COVID-19 would play out if we didn’t have all the information. There were too many players that had been stuck in their apartments for 8 weeks and didn’t want to risk injury.
How great is your ‘what would of happened’ feeling knowing that you will never know how CSKA would have finished in the Euroleague. How much does this put a damper on your season?
I think that every player has this question on their mind. For me having to end the season this way really sucks. Especially now that I’m leaving the club for Milan. I will never have that opportunity to have been able to defend our title. I would have had a chance to close out my CSKA career the right way. I think that every player will be asking that question ‘what if’ for a long time.
What is your summary of the CSKA season? You were a surprising second in the VTB and 4th in the Euroleague. Did the club underachieve?
I mean it’s hard to rate our season when we had no conclusion to it. I feel that right when COVID-19 hit we were starting to play our best basketball of the season. We had celebrated big wins on the road against Panathinaikos and Lok Kuban. We were struggling early on in the season as we were still feeling each other out. It was that time of year during March-June where teams want to reach their peak. Having to end the season like this is a very hard pill to swallow.
How have you lived day to day at home with COVID-19. Are you shocked how Americans have been treating the Coronavirus or have the Americans become more disciplined with time?
It’s difficult to say, because each state has different rules and different laws concerning COVID-19. I live in the New York/New Jersey area which was one of the worst area’s that were hit. We followed the rules as best we could and have stayed home. The best way to fight it is to limit your contact with others.
You spent time in Russia and also in the states during COVID-19. How do you feel have you gotten stronger as a man in these difficult times?
COVID-19 has changed my perspective on life in general. When COVID-19 came nobody knew how it would play out. In a period of 1-2 weeks, life changed for everyone. People lost family, lost their jobs or were infected. So many people were going through so many issues. I learned that you have to enjoy the moment. I think that people in general look at the past or future, but forget the moment. My wife and I like to say ‘We win today’. I think that it’s important to do as much as possible each day with your loved ones.
How difficult is it being an American at the moment? The senseless murder of George Floyd has put American upside down. How have you experienced the last week and what has been the most difficult thing for you in this time to see happening?
Being a black man in America today isn’t easy. I think that the rest of the world have taken notice of this senseless murder and see what we are dealing with now and have been for many years. This has put a spotlight on our culture. I am fortunate that I live in an area where this isn’t as prominent, but there are other places where this type of thing happens every day. It is a difficult video to watch, but the rest of the world have gotten a glimpse of what blacks deal with. I’m very happy that people have come together around the world to unite and try to help stop this. I hope that more people will fight against racism all over the world.
If it was easy then Racism would have been solved many years ago. Why do you feel can’t we live in a world where every skin color is 100% accepted?
That is the million dollar question. This is the question that all human beings that try to figure out for the test of time. I really wish that I knew that answer. All I can do is spread awareness and educate my kids and community. This is a huge goal of mine. The only way to fight the injustice of racism is to educate people.
The German BBL will finish their season with a 10 team tournament in Munich. Ratiopharm Ulm German legend Per Guenther who you have played against has stated he will pay the first 10,000 euro in player fines should players get involved with making some kind of protest during the tournament. Do you think that these could happen with the influx of Americans that are taking part in the tournament?
Not only Americans, but we have seen protests all over the world. I tip my hat off to Per Guenther for taking a leadership role. The BBL still have an old fashioned mentality not allowing players to have a voice. This is an important issue. Why can’t they allow players to express their feelings in this matter?
Congrats on signing with AX Armani Exchange Milan. Do you feel like if COVID-19 hadn’t happened that you would have remained in with CSKA Moscow?
I honestly don’t know. For me leaving and going to Milan had nothing to do with CSKA Moscow. It was a decision solely made by me. I wanted a new challenge. I’m coming near to the end of my career and before I walk away, I wanted to have one more new experience. Milan allowed me to have that experience. I will be reunited with my old coach and former teammates. I think this new opportunity is great for me.
Is COVID-19 part of the reason for the move to Milan? CSKA Moscow lost millions and most likely couldn’t pay you anymore
That wasn’t the case. Making the decision to join Milano had nothing to do with money. I wanted to have a new experience and do something different.
How tough was it making the decision to leave CSKA Moscow. Did it give you some sleepless nights?
It was definitely a very tough decision to make. If you would have asked me 7-10 days ago about what I would do, I would have said I would be preparing for another season with CSKA Moscow. I wasn’t seriously thinking of leaving. But once I sat down and took deep thoughts and weighed what was best for my family, I knew that it was a decision that I had to make. It is tough to leave after 7 years and being captain. We had a life there and had friends. It wasn’t easy to walk away.
You played 7 seasons for CSKA Moscow. The memories must be endless as you won 2 Euroleague titles and 6 VTB titles. How did the 7 seasons with CSKA Moscow shape you as a player and person?
My 7 years with CSKA Moscow changed me completely as a player and person. I arrived at CSKA Moscow at age 26 and was a single man. I left married with 2 kids. CSKA Moscow made me more mature as a player and man. I was able to be able to work with a great coach with Dimitris Itoudis. He helped me see and understand the game. The organization wanted me to step out of my comfort zone when I got there. When I got there, I was quiet and laid back. They wanted me to be a leader and more vocal in the locker room. The club helped me become a better player and person.
How did Mike James grow as a player with CSKA Moscow? What was it that halted his way back to the NBA and to sign a 3 year deal?
He had his best season as a professional. He was asked to take more of a leadership role this season. CSKA Moscow has this special way to help make players become leaders. He was able to adapt to the system and felt comfortable. Coach Itoudis and him grew together. Key was that coach allowed Mike to be Mike and play his game. This paid huge dividends for the whole club. He also enjoyed being in Moscow and decided to remain. CSKA is like a family that treats all well. He was looking to find a place where he could stay his whole career and found it. CSKA has been a place where guys like De Colo, Langdon, Holden and I have stayed for a long time.
Could Mike James take your role now as the new identity y figure in the making?
I don’t think that I was the identity figure of the team. We always had great players. He will put down his foot print and make his mark with CSKA.
Congrats on with AX Armani Exchange Milan. How key was it for you to sign here knowing you would be reunited with your old coach Ettore Messina?
That was real key and one of the main reasons to come to play for Messina. I knew that Milan would also be an ideal situation, because I had played in Italy before and knew the league. Messina brought me to CSKA and even after he left, we still had a good relationship and remained in contact.
You and your family are very excited to move to Milan. It will be your second time playing for an Italian team. What are you most looking forward to being able to play in the Serie A again?
When I first came to Italy, I played in the second division. It was always my dream to play in Serie A. I remember the great teams then with Milan, Siena, Rome and Treviso. It is almost a full circle in that now I have the chance to finish my career in Serie A.
Milan has 24 team titles. Will the fact that they aren’t a dominant Euroleague team give you an extra motivation to play an incredible season at age 34?
Another reason about going to Milan is the whole aspect of having a new challenge. They haven’t won a league title in a few years and haven’t been to the Euroleague playoffs since 2014 or 2015. I want to help bring a title to Milan and try to bring back the glory years that they once had. It would be a big moment for the club to do that again.
How excited are you to be playing together with ex NBA player Malcolm Delaney and one of the better young players in Europe Shavon Shields. Talk a little about them and your feelings being able to be their teammate?
Messina and management have shown early that they want to build a great balance within the team. They have older guys like Sergio Rodriguez and I that have experience and won titles while also adding younger guys like a Shavon Shields who has had success with Baskonia. I am really excited to get the opportunity to be able to play with them. I will try to help the younger guys grow and help the team come together. Delaney is a proven winner and has won everywhere he has played. He won in Germany with Munich and helped Lok Kuban reach the Euroleague final 4. He has proven that he can play at the Euroleague level. I have been very fortunate to have played with great guards in my career like Brian Roberts, John Goldsberry, Vassilis Spanoulis and Nando de Colo. Now I can add Malcolm Delaney to that list.
Do you feel like you will have that type of role you had with CSKA or do you think Messina might give you a bigger role?
The club is building a balanced team. I will try to help my team win and put them in the best position to win. Whatever they need me to do, I will full fill it. My role has been different each season. I will be prepared to answer the call whenever needed.
What is your plan this summer? The tournament has been cancelled. Will this be a summer with more focus on you’re your work outs and preparation for Milan
At the moment I go day to day. We don’t know when things will open up. I want to get consistently into the gym again. Now I try to stay in shape as much as possible. I am looking forward to getting back on the court. When that happens, then I will be able to make a plan how my training will be.
The NBA will finish their season. Will there be any surprises by teams and what can be expect by the shorter season?
It will be interesting to see how the teams and players come back. They haven’t played in a long time. The NBA will give them enough time to get ready. It will definitely be a different kind of basketball. But at the end of the day it will be basketball. The guys are excited to play again. It will be different, but the fans are excited to have basketball back again.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Trolls World Tour with my kids.
Thanks Kyle for the chat.