Malcolm Delaney (AX Armani Exchange Milano) Was Never In Awe When He Played In The NBA

Malcolm Delaney is a 31 year old 191cm guard from Baltimore, Maryland that is playing his 10th professional season and first with AX Armani Exchange Milano (Italy-Serie A). He began his basketball career at Towson Catholic High School and then played at Virginia Tech University from 2007-2011 playing a total of 136 NCAA games. He played his first 3 professional seasons in France (ES Chalon-Sur-Saone), Ukraine (Budivelnyk Kyiv) and Germany (FC Bayern Munich) winning a title each season. He then played 2 seasons with Lok Kuban reaching the Euroleague Final 4 in 2016. He then played 2 seasons and 127 NBA games with the Atlanta Hawks. Two seasons ago he played with Guangdong Southern Tigers (China-CBA) and last season won 2 titles with FC Barcelona Lassa (Spain-Liga ACB) playing 19 games averaging 10.3ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 76.6%; and played 26 Euroleague games averaging 10.2ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.8apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 43.0%, FT: 68.3%. He spoke to before the Euroleague 2020-2021 season opener in Munich against his ex team FC Bayern. 

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Malcolm Delaney in Frankfurt in 2014 when he was playing for FC Bayern Munich

Malcolm thanks for talking to The last time we spoke it was in 2015 before a game in Bamberg. You have been all over the time since your stay with Lok Kuban. Has time flown by for you?

I have been locked into basketball I just take everything day by day

Before we get to your playing career, let’s talk briefly about how you experienced the last 6 months with COVID-19. What was the biggest challenge for you that you had to take on a daily basis in your life?

I didn’t mind it. I stayed in my house. I just bought a new house in Atlanta that had everything I needed like a pool, basketball court and weight room. The whole COVID-19 time wasn’t difficult for me.

How do you feel did COVID-19 made you stronger as a man?

I can’t say that it really made me stronger. It didn’t have a real impact on me. It was something that everyone had to deal with. It took away from my season and off season. Everyone had to adapt to a new world. I had more time to do other things away from basketball. 

Welcome back to Germany. How special was it coming back to Munich last season and being in an old stomping ground?

It was dope. I hadn’t been able to get back in a real long time. The last time I had been back was when I was playing for Lok Kuban. We had a few days off and I went back to visit Munich. Munich was a very special place for me to play at. It was a great opportunity to play for a great organization. They really took care of me. I won a title and MVP. Munich was one of my favorite places to play in. 

When you see a guy like ex NBA player Greg Monroe on the court, does one have some small talk before the game or was it just another game no matter who was on the court?

I don’t care about those things. I have known Greg since he was 16 when we played at the Nike camp. It was no big deal seeing him again.

FC Bayern Munich haven’t had the kind of point guard again since you left. A lot of fans remember your time well and wish a point guard of your qualities could have come the last years. How special was your title with FC Bayern Munich in 2014 in comparison to all the others that you have learned?

It was a good title to win. It was their first title since they moved to the BBL. We had built a great team. I remember beating Bamberg in the first meeting in the regular season and that set the tone for the season. But winning the BBL title was tough. We had to beat Oldenburg and we beat Alba Berlin on the road. It was a special win for everyone in the organization.

How does it feel knowing today That you are missed there?

It’s a good feeling. I just try to leave my mark where ever I have played. For me it’s all about winning and being able to communicate with the fans.

Congrats on signing with Milan. Are you at a point in your career where you want to experience as many new cultures or organizations instead of finding a club and staying there for more years?

I actually wanted to stay in Barcelona. But it didn’t work out. If I had to play for 10 teams in 10 years then I would do it. My job is to play basketball. It’s a business. If a team wants me and I feel comfortable there, then I will stay. I would love to stay with one team. Last season I turned down offers from CSKA and Milan to play in Barcelona. My main job is to win and to provide for my family. 

You are playing for a very strong team that is filled with a lot of tradition and history. What have you noticed has been most special playing with this club that you didn’t see with FC Barcelona?

Obviously FC Barcelona is a bigger brand worldwide like top5. But Milan is the face of Italian basketball. Armani is the biggest face in the world. Milan is always expected to win and want to be a powerhouse again in Italian basketball. Coach Messina has changed the atmosphere. Everything that he told me that he would change, he has. Fans want to see a good team. I feel that if we can stay healthy then we can do special things. 

You have played with some Euroleague teams before coming to Milian. This is a very talented and deep roster like you often see in the Euroleague and currently is 7-0 in the Serie A. What are the goals of the club and how far can it go this season?

Our first goal is to win the Serie A and then win the Euroleague. We have the pieces and the coach to get to the Euroleague Final 4. It just depends how well we can play and put it together. If we can stay healthy then I feel that we will be in a good position at the end of the season to reach the Euroleague Final 4. 

Your only the sixth oldest guy on the squad. The club has 3 incredible veterans with Hines, Rodriguez and Datome. Is this a club where you don’t even have to display to much leadership or is that something you will do anyway because you are the point guard?

I as a player and person have always been a leader my whole life. Age doesn’t matter. Datome doesn’t talk, Rodriguez is a good leader and Kyle always wants to win. But at the end of the day everyone looks at the point guard. My goal is to be able to do all I can to win. One of the reasons I came here was so I could be myself and have fun playing.

What has it been playing with 4 time Euroleague winner Kyle Hines. The guy is a special player and person. Have you learned anything about him as a player and person that you have never ever seen before from other players?

The biggest thing about Kyle is that he is a winner. He is one of the most unselfish players. He has an incredible ability to be the best while not having to demand the ball, but still be able to score 12 points. His impact on the game is crazy. His numbers don’t show it. It is very tough to play him, because he can play so many positions. He can defend anyone.

How special has it been being teammates with Kevin Punter. He is another one of those special stories like you that had to pay their dues a few years before reaching the Euroleague. Do you recognize the chip on his shoulder on a daily basis?

Yeh I do. He is a New York city guy. All inner city guys have chips on their shoulders. It took him a while to come up mainly because teams were playing him the way he didn’t play. He then showed at Red Star that he can play. Coach Messina believed he is a great player and that he could play beside me. When I got here I knew that he was a great talent, but when I started playing beside him I knew that he could play. 

I covered Shavon Shields when he was a rookie in Frankfurt. The guy has made huge strides as a player. What have you learned to appreciate most about his game?

We played against Baskonia 4 or 5 times last season. Now I see him play on a daily basis. He is special. He comes to work each day and he listens to coach and me. He is also a good dude off the court. Coach really believes in him and he was also one of the big targets that the team wanted to get. Winning the ACB title gave him momentum. He like everyone else bought into the system. Nobody cares about themselves. 

You have played for many coaches in your career, but what has it been learning from Ettore Messina. What has he shown as a mentor7teacher in the short time that you haven’t seen before?

When he went to coach in the NBA, his mentality changed a bit. He brought the NBA mentality to Milan. He has brought that modern day basketball from the NBA with the travel, food and how he conducts practices. Important about how he coaches is that he is smart and detailed, but he doesn’t overdo it. He is also very concerned about health. He has adapted to the times. He has combined Europe and the NBA. It is fun playing for him. 

Let’s talk about your game. It’s no secret that putting up huge stats aren’t going to happen in Euroleague. What besides winning are you concentrating most on concerning your game at the age of 31? 

I just do what I do. My role always changes. It just depends what I’m asked to do. I had a different role at Lok Kuban than what I had with Barcelona. For me it isn’t about scoring. I can score anywhere. For me it’s always about winning. If coach tells me to stop shooting and just pass then I will do that. Stats don’t make my game. I’m most comfortable when I’m loose. I’m myself in Milan. 

How much more important does it become making the right play and being efficient for you. Does it become easier with age?

Yes it does become easier with age. I have never been a player that put up 25 shots per game while putting up big numbers. I have never been selfish. Coaches always tell me that I pass too much. Value and possession is most important. At the end of the game, it’s always the best player that proves why they are the best. You have to stay level and be in a good position at the end to win. 

You won titles in your first three seasons in France, Ukraine and Germany and then won titles in Spain last season. Does the lust to want to win titles increase with age knowing that one won’t be playing forever?

No. My goal is always to win a title, but I don’t go chasing titles. I will only sign with teams that can win titles. I went to Barcelona believing we could win a title and it was the same with Milan. I have to have fun now at my age while being able to win titles. I have had seasons where I didn’t have fun. If I leave my family at home then I have to be in a place where I am enjoying playing. I enjoy playing with Milan. 

What was the biggest challenge to playing in Europe and in the Euroleague last season after being in the NBA and China for 3 seasons?

Nothing changed. Basketball is basketball. I have been known to being adapt anywhere. In the NBA, I was a back up and ran the second unit. In China I was asked to score and with Barcelona I was a late addition after team was already made. I had to make sure everything stuck together. The goal was not to interfere with what was going on and just help the team win. 

What was the neatest thing last season being a member of FC Barcelona. Did you get to meet Messi?

No I didn’t meet Messi. We went to one game and it we didn’t have the best seats. When I sign a contract with no matter what team all I care about is winning and doing my job. It was big playing for Barcelona, but I think when you get too caught up about where you are and who your playing for, you get too caught up about having to win because your Barcelona. I never went around town saying I play for Barcelona. I would have loved to meet Messi, but I never requested it. It just wasn’t on my mind., What is on my mind is to get home after practice and rest and be ready for the next game. I’m totally locked into basketball. I have other businesses at home and when I come home from practice, I take care of other things. When I’m done playing basketball, then will be the time to look back at my career and what I did. Now I’m living in the moment.

You played 127 NBA games for the Atlanta Hawks. After playing so many games can one remember that first game where you beat Washington scoring 4 points in 20 minutes?

I don’t. The NBA is a blur. You play so many games in the NBA. Each game didn’t mean as much as in Europe. If you lose one game in the Euroleague to the worst team then you will have a lousy next week. If you loose 9 games in a row with Atlanta it’s no big deal. When you lose in the NBA, you have to be ready quickly for the next game. The NBA helped me grow mentally and grow as a player. 

What did you learn to appreciate the most about the NBA? When you finally got there, how long did it take you to come down to earth and just see it as a job or was that awe effect often there?

I was never in awe when I was in the NBA. My friends were more happy that I was in the NBA than I was. I think that if I had been 21, I would have been excited. But I reached the NBA at age 26. At that time, I already felt like I should have been there. I never was able to enjoy it. I actually was supposed to be with Atlanta the year before. I already knew during the 2016 Euroleague final 4 that I would be going to Atlanta. The NBA was no big deal. I just wanted to see how it would be. Some guys that looked up to me in college had made the NBA and when they saw me were asking why it took me so long to get to the NBA. Guys like Jeff Teague knew what I was capable of. Guys in the NBA don’t keep up with European basketball. I played well against many guys. Most guys that knew me from back then were proud that I got a chance to come back. It was cool reuniting with old friends. 

You played together early in Dennis Schroeder’s career. How have you seen his development and will he ever get the opportunity to quarterback a contender with his game?

When I got there, the club had handed the keys to Dennis. That first year we had a great team. He was confident and got a lot of freedom. He played well while always having that chip on his shoulder. That second year they started to rebuild. It is all a blur for me. I feel that when he left, it was the best for his career. He can do the same as a starter or from the bench. I think that he has played better with OKC. He may not have been a starter with OKC, but he finished every game. It is more important if you finish a game than being a starter. He will get a chance to play for a contender. But OKC was a contender for me. They were missing a few pieces. 

How do you remember your time with Dwight Howard? Did he already have that kind of humbleness in Atlanta which he has now in Los Angeles? 

Dwight is a good friend. Most of the negative things about him come from the media. I never had a bad experience with him. He wasn’t a problem in Atlanta. Whenever you needed something, he would help you. He was a good vet that gave advice. He is someone that liked having fun and sometimes joked around too much. He showed that he wanted to win in Atlanta. One has to remember that it is a business. Sometimes things don’t go well for a player. He was a monster in Charlotte. Media pick a player and once you get labelled, everyone expects you to be like that. That is what happened with him and the media. He is in a good situation now with the Lakers. There are a lot of older guys that want to win. He is a Hall of Famer that feels comfortable playing a role. 

What was the coolest experience that you had in the NBA that you will never forget? 

Every time my family would be able to watch me. Before I reached the NBA, my family only saw me play a few times live. Big for me was also playing against Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony two guys I looked up to. I played for team Melo when I was growing up. Defending Lebron or Kyrie was cool, but the biggest thing was having my family there. 

What do you remember about playing against Dirk Nowitzki?

Dirk was already older and it was a bit different, because I never matched up against him. He is one of my all-time favorite players. He changed the game with his one leg fade away jumper. He didn’t move as well anymore, but sharing the court was fun. 

After 2 seasons in the NBA, you then went to the far east and played with Guangdong Southern Tigers (China-CBA) averaging 19.4ppg, 6.1rpg, 5.6apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 41.6%, FT: 80.0%. What was it like playing ball in China? Is not playing defense in the CBA an understatement?

China isn’t what everybody thinks about. If you take a low tier German team like Giessen and have 12 Germans and 2 Americans with Mike James. What does MIke James average? Probably 35 points per game. In China the Americans there are supposed to score. There are only 3-4 teams that have high level Chinese players. Guys average 30-40 points on bad teams. All they do is shoot like 25-30 shots per game. They play defense in China, but it’s a different level. 4-5 Chinese teams could play in the Euroleague. 

Please name your 5 best teammates of al-time?

Derrick Brown (Most talented guy I ever played with), Anthony Randolph (second most talented guy that I ever played with), Blake Schilb, John Bryant (He was fun playing with. I remember seeing his numbers and then seeing him for the first time and wondering how he got those numbers. But once I saw him on the court he could really play. Shoot the three and step back), Dontaye Draper (My favorite from a personal level. I idolized him and he taught me so much)

What is your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present players?

Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Lebron James, Kareem Abdul Jabbar

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James

Jordan. Not even close. He is 6/6 in titles.

What was the last movie that you saw?


Thanks Malcolm for the chat.

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