Darryl Middleton (203-F/C-66, college: Baylor) is currently an assistant coach for top Euroleague team CSKA Moscow. He can look back at a long and illustrious professional playing career that spanned 4 decades as he played from 1988-2013. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. He played the majority of his career in Spain spanning 18 years and 12 years in the top European league ACB. He also played in Turkey, Italy, Greece and Russia. CNN Sport Has namned him as one of the most famous american players in European basketball history. He played at Baylor (NCAA) from 1984-1988 reaching the NCAA tournament in 1988. He spoke to germanhoops about his Baylor days and the special basketball magic there.
Darryl thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
Baskeballt has been great to me,the last 7 years since I stopped playing. I have been here in one of the biggest clubs CSKA Moscow. I have learned so much by being here with coach Itoudis and our staff, We won 2 euro league titles and 6 Russian titles as well so it’s been great being apart of this plus now we are preparing now for another euro league final 4 this month as well as the Russan league playoffs.
You have been assistant coach of top Euroleague team CSKA Moscow since 2014. What kind of an experience has that been and have you never had aspirations of being a head coach?
I think any assistant coach would love to be a head coach. It’s a lot of work as well because then I would be in the front seat making very tough decisions. A head coaching job is not just coaching players, but you have a lot of other responsibilities as well. You have to make sure all the players understand their roles. Some players have big egos and feel they should be able to do more, want to play more minutes or whatever the situation may be, and as the head coach you have to keep everyone on the same page and sometimes,it’s very difficult.
CSKA Moscow is playing a great Euroleague season, but were only in fourth place in the VTB a league you win almost every year. How do you explain this? Are teams especially fired up for you this season?
I believe it’s dificult for a lot of players to have the same motivation to play in Euroleague, which is the top league and when they play in the VTB league, they don’t play with the same motivation. I think it’s wrong to play like this because players are paid to play and not to choose what league they should be more motivated to play in. It’s sad to see this as a coach because you know your players and when they are not playing like they should in VTB, it makes the coaches very frustrated because you are doing something that you love to do, why should players lower themselves like that just because it’s a different league. Once they get on the court in whatever league, they should play100%. It’s their job and when they play below their standard, it makes them look really bad
You played an incredible 27 professional seasons until you were 47. Did God bless you with the perfect body?
I played 27 professional seasons. I can’t believe it myself that I played until 47 but it wasn’t easy from the start. I worked my butt off every summer to prepare myself for every season. I always felt that I had something to prove once I came to Europe so that was a good motivation for me to prove to people that I can play. I always wanted to be the best player on the court on defense and offense. I wasn’t a gifted player so I had to really work hard every summer to improve my basketball skills. Yes, I was blessed to have played for so many years and most importantly I stayed away from injuries. I think by training so hard in the summer, that really helped me to get through the season without any injuries
You have won 20 titles as a player and assistant coach. What part of your title genes do you believe have rubbed off most on your players?
I have won 20 titles in my career, and not many people can say that and for sure not many people in the club or players knows this but it’s something to be proud of for sure and shows what hard work can give you.
Let’s talk about your alma mata Baylor. They won the 2021 NCAA title. How did you feel the day after the win?
I was very excited to see my Baylor Bears win the NCAA title and not only they won it but how they won the championship. They played 2 great games from start to finish. They had a goal to win this title. you could see it in their body language, and in their eyes, that they wanted this title and they came out very motivated especially in the final.
Playing overseas is always a problem when you want to catch NBA and NCAA games. Did your schedule permit you to stay up and watch history being made? It must have been early morning in Moscow when the game started so you could of watched it.
I dont have much time to watch college games or NBA games because of our schedule and because of the time difference. I would have loved to watch more of Baylor games but I just watched some of their games during their season and the final 4.
You played at Baylor from 1984-1988. You reached the NCAA tournament in 1988. At that time that had been the school’s first appearance in 38 years. What was special about that team?
It seems like a life time ago but we had a great group of guys. My 4 years there and by the time we all became seniors,we were really playing well and after 38 years we went to the NCAA tournament, It was a great achievement for us and for the school. We put Waco Texas on the basketball map
How proud are you of head coach Scott Drew? Do you feel he will get more respect after this win?
Coach Scott Drew has done a great job at Baylor. He had these guys believing that they can win a national title. He had two of the best players in college hoops there with leaders Mitchell and Butler. These guys played great as well as the rest of the team. It was a great final 4 to watch and now with 4 main players leaving, they will need to start to rebuild again but for sure with this national title, they will be able to recruit some very good players for the upcoming years.
Have you seen Coming To America 2 yet? The reviews have been mixed. Shouldn’t they just have left the original classic untouched?
I haven’t seen coming to america 2 yet. It will be a summer movie but I liked the 1st one.
Thanks Darryl for the chat.