I have conducted 21 interviews with American Kyle Hines since his only season in Germany with Brose Bamberg in 2010-2011 and even 11 seasons later nothing has changed with this guy´s overall demeanour when you speak with him. When I talk to him today, it seems like it could be like it was 2010 when Kyle Hines was just at the beginning of an illustrious career that not many players can say they have witnessed. You talk to the physical and versatile player today and you continue to sense this business like attitude and focus that you don´t see with other players. Kyle Hines has this amazing special aura that is so powerful, but at the same time as inviting as if he is a guy you could trust with any information. It really doesn´t matter when or where I have spoken to this guy, if it was in his home state of New Jersey, Berlin, Frankfurt, Bamberg, Moscow or Pireas, Greece, he has always been the same with how he conducts himself. He has this focused straight ahead attitude with how he presents himself, but at the same time is always ready for small talk. The way he conducts himself off the court is no different than the way he does on the court. He is all business on the court and that is probably why the guy has won 20 professional titles in his career and still is nowhere satisfied yet. The guy always wants more and that has shown on the court with his track record. His focus on the game and issue at hand is as powerful as a Lebron James stare down on the court. He is a winner and will always be a winner and is the basketball Tom Brady of European basketball. There are so many parallels that these guys share that one would think that they have somehow been connected in another life. The first most distinct parallel is the fact that they are the winningest American players in their sport determining the biggest title in their sport. Tom Brady has won a record 7 Super Bowls and Kyle Hines has 4 Euroleague titles. Okay so there have been players that have won more Euroleague titles than Hines with Dino Meneghin with 7 , but no other American has won as much as he has. Another parallel and one that is extra ordinary and is one that could happen, is wining a title with another team. Hines won 2 Euroleague titles with Olyimpiakos Pireas and 2 with CSKA Moscow while Tom Brady has won 6 with the New England Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hines could pull a Tom Brady in that he helps lead his new team AX Armani Exchange Milano to a Euroleague title in his first year after coming from Moscow. Tom Brady did the same thing moving from New England to Tampa Bay and being able to not only hoist the Super bowl title in his own stadium, but also make a new historical throw heaving the trophy from one boat to the next during the victory boat parade.” It would be incredible being able to win a fifth Euroleague title with Milan considering with all that we have dealt with this season. For me it would be historical being able to hoist 5 titles”, warned Kyle Hines. It would be a delight and be interesting to see how these two exceptional players and out of the ordinary characters would act in a meeting? When you have won a record 7 Super bowl titles, you can always learn something new about wining even if you play two different sports. Hines would know exactly what questions to fire if he had 5 minutes of Tom Brady´s time. “I would ask him how he has been able to keep that longevity of almost 21 years. I would ask him also what his secret is to winning and the preparation and process that it takes to win”, warned Kyle Hines.
AX Armani Exchange Milano have won 9 titles in Italy since the 2015-2016 season, but haven´t been as lucky in international club competition as they last reached the Euroleague playoffs in 2016. This season everything is working a lot better as they are going head to head with Brindisi in the Serie A and have reached the Top 8 of the Euroleague competition. Despite the basketball side of the season going well for Kyle Hines, he like everyone else has had to deal with COVID-19 and has met the challenges and accepted them even if living isn´t always easy. “The biggest challenge has been to keep getting adjusted and keeping my family and the people around me safe as well. On the basketball side challenging has been following all the protocols. Everyone has to learn to deal with the situation on a daily basis. I just try to stay safe and be in good spirits”, stressed Kyle Hines. Staying focused and locked in on game day is as normal an occurrence for the American from Sicklerville, New Jersey as it is for Indiana Pacer big man Myles Turner swatting away an opponent´s shot, but what added bit of difficulty has he had with the added constraint of COVID concerning his preparation for every game? Even if every game is a challenge with COVID, he has that special feeling in his mind knowing that it is all worth it. Everything is better than not playing the game he loves. “Everyone has been giving their best in games despite the situation with COVID. The biggest adjustments have been following the protocols, travel and playing without fans. Also tough has been having to play teams that have been effected by COVID. But most important is that despite everything we as players continue to be able to play the game that we love”, warned Kyle Hines.
Being reunited with Ettore Messina who Hines played under in his first season with CSKA Moscow was a giant reason why he decided to leave Moscow after 7 seasons and come to the elegant city of Milan. He had had great times with CSKA Moscow winning 10 titles, but often even a great fit comes to an end after a long while. It wasn´t any different for Tom Brady. Tom Brady was seeking a new challenge and it wasn´t any different for Kyle Hines. “One of the biggest reasons why I came to Milan was being able to take on a new challenge and have an opportunity to come to a new team. It has been exciting being a part of a foundation of change. It has been great being able to have the opportunity of taking on a new challenge at the tail end of my career. It has been fun”, stated Kyle Hines. The club is playing great basketball and a massive reason for their good play in the Italian Serie A and Euroleague was the ability of the team being able to mesh together well early, but there also has been another reason for the club being able to have success. “. Big also has been the development of players Zach LeDay, Kevin Punter and Shavon Shields who have stepped up big within their roles. Important also has been having some older guys like Sergio Rodriguez and I who have shared the leadership”, added Kyle Hines. They have been super successful in the Euroleague finishing as the fourth best team averaging 81 points per game on offense and allowing 77 points per game. Key has been never suffering a huge losing streak, but being able to bounce back after a loss and string along two or three wins in a row. “Having that consistency in the Euroleague has been huge. Despite COVID and everything we wanted to make sure never have two loses in a row. The most consistent teams in the Euroleague tend to have the most success”, stressed Kyle Hines. AX Armani Exchange Milano meet German club FC Bayern Munich in a best of five series tonight in Milan. During the regular season Milan won a nail bitter in Munich 81-79 and then overpowered the German side at home sweeping the regular season series. “The playoffs don´t have an inclination of what happened in the regular season. We don´t expect a easy series. Munich is a well coached team that play with discipline. It will be a big challenge, but if we can play our game the way we have been doing this season and raise our level then we will have good chances”, warned Kyle Hines. A big reason for the huge success of FC Bayern Munich this season in the Euroleague has been head coach Andrea Trinchieri who coached Hines in Italy as a rookie with Prima Veroli (Italy-Lega2). Hines knows him inside out and hasn´t been surprised by the success of Munich. “He has been doing this his whole career. He comes to teams and finds a way to turn it around. He has always been a well prepared coach his whole career. He knows how to get the best out of his players and maximize them to play their best. He has taken a leap every season. I´m happy for his success, but I hope that we can capitalize and win the series”, stressed Kyle Hines.
AX Armani Exchange Milano also have been aided by having been able to find the correct pieces. The front court of AX Armani Exchange Milano has an exciting and interesting constellation of very talented players where each guy can do something different. “We have a ray of different versatile big men. LeDay has had his break out season. He has shown a lot of different abilities shooting the three, playing the pick and roll and showing his athleticism. He also has the ability to play the four five positions. Evans gives us experience and athleticism and has done a great job. He has given us that extra push. Tarczewski has been here since five years. He gives us more of that traditional low post center. The great thing is that we have so much versatility that we can match up in a variety of ways”, said Kyle Hines. American Kaleb Tarczewski who learned his basketball trade at UCLA(NCAA) is in his fifth season with Milan and could become a lifer with the club the same way Quantez Robertson has who is in his 12th season with the Fraport Skyliners. “Kaleb is a great player. He has improved this year. You don´t see often when foreign players stay that long with one team. I would love to continue to be his teammate for many more years”, commented Kyle Hines. He battled ex NBA player Luigi Datome the last years in the Euroleague and now finally can call the versatile big man his own teammate. “I have gotten to know him well. We are both representatives of the players association. I appreciate his work ethic most. He always does the extra things to be ready every day. He has accomplished so much playing in the NBA and Euroleague, but he still comes to work every day ready to provide what is best for the team”, stressed Kyle Hines. The American who played 120 NCAA games at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (NCAA) from 2004-2008 averaging 19,0ppg in his last three seasons also has seen the incredible development of ex Nebraska(NCAA) standout Shavon Shields. He is a guy that gives constant development a new name. “Shavon is still young and hasn´t hit his prime yet. He has many more years to get even better. He has been one of those guys that has really flourished under coach Messina. Coach has recognized something special in his game and given him the freedom to play. He does so many special things. He has hit so many big shots this year and made big plays that we all rely on him. He is one of the best players at his position in the Euroleague. Once he gets even more confidence and matures more, he will continue to blossom in the future”, warned Kyle Hines.
Hines who is the man behind the Players Podcast as he loves interviewing other players and telling stories is playing his 11th Euroleague season and has played an amazing 314 Euroleague games and currently is averaging 8,1ppg, 4,3rpg and 1,9apg. He has experienced having a new role each season and it isn´t any different with Milan. But this season he doing something a lot more than he ever has in his career. “I have taken more the role of a creator this season. It has been a fun role. We have had injuries to some of our creators this season. It has also has been fun seeing the rise of LeDay, Punter and Shields. We have more younger guys this season as opposed to CSKA where we had more experienced players”, said Kyle Hines. As usual he is putting up good stats in the minutes that he plays. He has never been a stats man, but a guy that does anything to help his team win. Leading a team the way a Tom Brady has done his whole career is something that will always be entrenched in Hines´s head. “ I´m trying to become more of a vocal leader. I was captain at CSKA, but we had more experienced guys there. We have a good mix of young and old in Milan. The biggest difference to CSKA is that I´m trying to be more of a leader here and help and push the younger players. I try to tell them what it takes to win a Euroleague title”, warned Kyle Hines. He has played 33 Euroleague games this season, but only 14 Serie A games as there is a good and plausible reason why. “We had a phase where we had several double week games. Coach thought it be best if the older guys rested more. He learned how players should take care of their bodies when he was with the Spurs. For me it has been great getting the rest. We have a roster full of guys that can all compete”, expressed Kyle Hines. Consistency had been a massive reason why Kyle Hines has been able to play at such a high level his whole career. Usually guys break down as they get older, but not with Hines. He has a grade A work ethic and knows how to take care of his body. These are all vital factors why he doesn´t slow down as he gets older and can still develop further. “I think that my experience continues to help me develop my game. When you get older you play more with your mind and less with your body. I also feel this new challenge with Milan and being able to be around a new group of guys has given me new energy. It has been exciting experiencing new things”, warned Kyle Hines. He has had many mentors in his career, but none has been more beneficial than ex NBA player Jerome Allen who played 117 NBA games for the Pacers, Timberwolves and Nuggets and now is an assistant coach under Brad Stevens in Boston. “He has been a big mentor for me. We were teammates my first season. I was 21 and he was 35. He taught me so much. He taught me really what it takes to compete at a high level and how to be a professional. He gave me so much wisdom then and still does today. He had a big effect on my career and life”, warned Kyle Hines.
The last movie that he saw was the Coming to America sequel which he liked still has strong ties to his ex club CSKA Moscow who he could meet again should they advance past FC Bayern Munich. “I still talk to guys like Will Clyburn, Mike James and Daniel Hackett. They have continued to be successful something everybody expects. Despite having to deal with COVID and injuries, they are still the CSKA of old “, added Kyle Hines. The fact that CSKA Moscow was able to be one of the top Euroleague teams this season despite COVID, numerous injuries and the drama with Mike James hasn´t surprised Hines, because he knows that they have a coach that is very special and can achieve things that most other coaches can´t. “Coach Dimitrios Itoudis has done a great job keeping everyone together. The pressure to win is so big for CSKA Moscow, but he still has led them to success. That is one of the reasons why he is one of the best coaches in the Euroleague. He knows how to use pressure and turn it into an advantage. There aren´t many coaches who would be able to do this”, stressed Kyle Hines. The American also keeps the NBA on his radar and like so many other people hopes that his ex coach Chris Fleming can finally remove the assistant coach name from his resume. “I have spoken to him a few times in the last years. I have talked to him more indirectly through the assistant coaches there. He is an incredible coach and everyone knows it. He has had so much success. I look forward to him getting a NBA head coach opportunity. It would be well deserved”, warned Kyle Hines. He has played for so many head coaches in his career, but one can´t argue that Ettore Messina has been the best ever. Like Trinchieri has done in Munich, Messina has come to Milan and has done special things and turned a stalling organization into a top club and helped them find the correct path again. “He is a Hall Of Fame coach. He knows more about basketball than most. He became better and wiser in the Spurs organization. He has been able to implement the culture of the Spurs on and off the court for us. That has really helped us this season and you can see the turnaround the team has had. On top of that he is a great person. That is why he has had so much success”, stressed Kyle Hines. Kyle Hines definitely won´t catch Messina´s mind boggling 44 titles as a coach in his playing career, but he doesn´t care or is worried about that. His ultimate goal now is to win another Euroleague title. And then come back and do again next season the same way Tom Brady wants to do this season with Tampa Bay. Both guys wouldn´t want it any other way.