Basketball on the court has stopped, but the game never ceases to shock us in the form of signings. Kyle Hines, a living EuroLeague legend, has decided to end his seven-year tenure with CSKA Moscow. On his way to Olimpia Milan, Kyle Hines has agreed to an exclusive phone interview with TrendBasket at his home in South Jersey.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
On COVID-19, staying shape and overall mental health:
I’ve pieced kind of like a gym together in my garage through Amazon, so I’ve been able to do that. I put an exercise bike, stuff like that and lucky enough, everywhere I live, there’s a lot of parks. I’ve kind of be able to go out and run in the park and do different things there. It hasn’t been too bad, but at this point now, you want to get back to playing basketball, get in the gym. But other than that, it’s been okay.
On what made Kyle Hines say farewell to CSKA after seven great years:
I honestly just needed a change I feel like. You know, I’ve been at CSKA for seven years, so it wasn’t an easy change. You know, Moscow is my home. It’s been my home for my family for the past seven years but, I just feel like needed change. I needed a new opportunity to do new challenges and to do different things. I felt like, right now, Milano offered me those opportunities.
On the meaning CSKA and the city of Moscow have for him:
The city of Moscow is my home. It’s the place where my kids have grown up. I look forward to going back there every year after my summer here in New Jersey. I’ve built so many great relationships there both on and off the basketball court. My teammates, the coaching staff, the management, everything. I look at everybody there as an extended family for me. It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, it’s definitely still not an easy decision. Knowing that I’m leaving, I think it’s even gonna hit me even harder for the first time you know, when I get to Milan, I’m on the practice court and I realize I’m not wearing a CSKA Moscow jersey anymore. But like I said before, I felt like it was something I needed to do for myself and my family.
On the process of other teams wanting to sign Kyle Hines:
This time, it wasn’t a super drawn-out process for me. At the beginning, throughout this all, my intention was to stay with CSKA; I did not have any other intentions. Once the opportunity arose, I kind of realized that Milan had serious interest. I think that was going to be the only other team that if I were to leave CSKA, that I would go to.
Coach Messina, I am familiar with him because he was my first coach at [CSKA]. The general manager is the one that actually brought me to Olympiacos in 2011, an early part of my career. And then also, I had teammates and people that I had already played with, that I was familiar with. From that standpoint, I felt comfortable with the situation. I felt like if I were to leave CSKA, it would have to be a situation where it would be at least familiar to me.
Whether any other teams were trying to get his signature:
Honestly, no. I honestly don’t think anybody else really thought or knew I was on the market or knew/thought that I would leave CSKA. I think that is why it was kind of maybe a surprise to some people. So no, there were no other teams that I guess had any interest in me. Like I said before, it was never really my intention to be out on the market and kind of look at other teams. I wasn’t actively looking for other places or other situations; this kind of happened organically.
On the reasons to choose Milan:
There are many different factors. I think number one, I started my career in Italy back in 2008. So, for me to have an opportunity to kind of have a “full circle” moment and possibly close my career in Italy, it is definitely a factor. Milan is building a culture, building a championship-caliber type team. For me, it’s a great opportunity to go out and try to play, and try to compete and win another title. I think that was one of the aspects as well.
And then also, you said it, I mean, the lifestyle of the city [Milan], Italy, it was a great opportunity for my family to go elsewhere and to experience something elsewhere and then also for my extended family, my friends. My kids are getting a little bit older, so it’s a great opportunity for my friends and my family to get out and to visit and to travel to Italy.
Kyle Hines’ thoughts on EuroLeague being canceled:
I think it was the right decision just because, for us, obviously the COVID situation happening. I think it definitely affected many people in many different ways. The way that the EuroLeague is set up, I didn’t think it was the best situation possible for us to continue. And then also, just the integrity of the game was really important to all of the players. We know how hard it is and how difficult it is to win a EuroLeague title, and we didn’t want the championship to be determined by who had access or who had the ability to train or who had access to a gym.
Like in our situation at CSKA and Russia right now, you know, in dealing with COVID and after one point was the new epicenter of Europe, so everything was closing in Russia; we had no ability to get back there and train. My teammates that are there had no ability to train. We wouldn’t be in our best form or best fit to continue the competition. For us, it was like, unless everyone else was able to come back on equal playing grounds, it didn’t necessarily make sense to continue.
On who’d be Kyle Hines’ MVP:
It would be Shane Larkin. I think Shane proved that he was having one of the best seasons, if not the best. The most difficult thing for all of us is looking back on this season. There are so many different things that happened throughout the season and that haven’t had the opportunity to be concluded. Looking back on that, there is going to be a lot of what-ifs moments looking back on this season. People are going to be like, “what if this happened”, so I think that’s the harsh part.
I definitely feel like Shane Larkin had one of the most historical seasons, one of the most successful seasons going on right now.
On George Floyd and the ongoing protests:
I mean if you watched the video and you’ve seen the tragedy that occurred with George Floyd, I think everybody had the same reaction no matter where you’re from, no matter what race you are, no matter what’s your religion. I think that it’s time for us as people, as a country, to fix these problems, fix these injustices, fix these issues in our country and I think you’ve kind of seen a response whether people agree with, whether people don’t agree with it. From all these things and all these injustices that have been occurring over the past years, you’re seeing that a lot of people are tired of it; they’re fed up with it.
I think people are acting out on their frustrations. Whether or not you agree with it, or whether or not you don’t agree with it, but I think people are acting out their frustrations from the things they’re seeing every day in the news that they don’t agree with. I think for us, as a country, as a whole, and even globally, I think we all need to have the opportunity to power up each other, look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out a way how we can fix these problems, fix these issues because that’s the only way it’s going to get better I think.
We have to come to the realization that these issues and these problems do occur. And they occur in different areas and in certain areas more predominately than others. But I think if we all don’t come together collectively no matter what race, no matter what gender, no matter what we are, these problems and issues are not going to be fixed.