Dante Exum (198-PG-1995, agency: Alti Sport) is a 26 year old 198cm guard from Australia that is playing his first season in Europe for FC Barcelona. He began his career at the Australian Institute of Sport. In 2014 he was drafted by the Utah Jazz at #5. He then played seven years in the NBA totaling 262 games mostly for the Utah Jazz where he played 5 seasons. He also played two years with the Clevland Cavaliers. Last summer he helped Australia win a bronze at the Summer Olympics. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the Euroleague playoff series against FC Bayern Munich.
Dante thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. The Barcelona-Munich series is tied 1-1. FC Bayern Munich played a very good game 2 and was simply better than FC Barcelona in many areas. With what kind of feelings are you traveling to Munich and what will be key to winning the series?
We knew going in that this would be a very tough series against Munich. When your battling in the playoffs it is all about getting better. We are confident that we will be bale to make the adjustments to advance.
After 7 years in the NBA your playing your first season in Europe with top team FC Barcelona. How tough were the last two years in Utah and Cleveland? Did you lose faith in the NBA?
No I don’t think that I lost faith in the NBA. I was at a point in my career where I just wanted to play more. With the injuries that I had I felt it was a good opportunity to come overseas. I felt that being able to go to FC Barcelona was a very good opportunity for me.
Your playing for one of the world’s most famous organizations. What kind of experience has it been and what experience have you cherished the most so far with this team?
Playing for FC Barcelona has been a great experience. They have welcomed me with open arms. I have cherished the fans the most. The love and how they have welcomed me has been great.
How tough was it coming to a club middle in the season that is so deep? What was the toughest transition for you with your game coming to the Euroleague and ACB?
It is tough coming to a new team in the middle of the season where there are many new players that you have to get used to. The style is different with FC Barcelona and more structured. They pack the paint more is something that is a lot different from the NBA.
You are teammates with so many incredible talented guys., Is there one player that has impressed you the most or really been vital in helping you adjust quicker?
The team has so many talented players. But if I had to chose one I would pick Kyle Kuric. He is my shooting partner. It has been really beneficial to me trying to understand the mind set of a shooter.
What kind of an experience has it been playing for head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius? What has been the biggest challenge learning a new system form him?
The biggest adjustment for me has been learning his system. He has a totally different strategy especially with on ball defense. He has a real passion for the game.
Last summer you played at the 2021 Olympics and won a Bronze with Australia. What was going through your mind when you got your medal?
This was a big moment for Australian basketball. We had never won a medal before with basketball. I know how it meant for guys like Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova who had been grinding for years to finally win a medal. Just being a part of it was fantastic and something I will never forget.
What was special about Team Australia in 2021. What do you believe was missing from overcoming team USA?
I thought that we were right there with Team USA. It was atough game. That is simply how basketball works at times. Basketball is a game of runs. Even if you play good defense, Kevin Durant will still score. I think that experience will have us better prepared for the next chance at the World Cup.
You played 6 years with Rudy Gobert. What is your nicest memory of him and where is he currently in the list of top centers in the NBA?
I always had a good relationship with him. He has such a good presence in the paint. What many don’t know is that he is so knowledgeable of the game. He gave me good advice about the pick and roll coverages. I believe that he is at the top in the NBA. Of course you have guys like Embiid and Jokic, but basketball is two sided. He also is great on the defensive end.
How many of the six teams that you were on with the Jazz could the current FC Barcleona team have beat?
I’m not 100% sure. But I know that each game would be super competitive.
You played against Kobe and Lebron. What duels will always stand out in your mind?
I will never being there when Kobe played his last game against us. Unfortunately I didn’t play, but I was on the sideline and saw everything. Being able to see him that last time was amazing.
You played 8 seasons in the NBA. What was the best example in this time where you saw that the NBA will always be a business first?
I have seen the other side how players were treated by organizations, but I was always blessed to be treated well by every team that I played for. I never saw the other side.
Your dad Cecil played with the University of North Carolina in 1982 with Michael Jordan and James Worthy. What Jordan story from him will always stick in your mind?
He told me stories about him when I was young. I think what has always stuck with me since then was the incredible mindset that he had in every session. Since hearing this, I have strived to be the best that I can.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NBA?
That is a hard question. But I couldn’t say it wasn’t Kobe. It was him.
Thanks Dante for the chat.