Game : Twenty years ago, he became the best basketball player in Russia, who with his own hands deprived the undefeated CSKA of the championship title. Sergei Chikalkin was then carried by the whole of Perm, and after each game, the car had to be cleaned of notes with the girls’ phone numbers. What the coolest player of the early 200s lives now, which coach he considers unique and why he would drive all the basketball players to the gym – Chikalkin told MK-Sport.
We found Sergei Chikalkin in Perm, where he spent his golden years. This time, the basketball player came to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ural Great’s championship with a match of legends, and at the same time look at the cream of college sports in the ASB All-Star Game (Association of Student Basketball).
“Legs are not the same”
– Sergey, after 20 years you came out in the form of “Ural Great” on the floor. What are the feelings?
– It was easy to run. Only now the result could not be shown ( laughs ). Even for such matches, you need to prepare and tune in. You can’t just go out and play.
– You just took the ball and scored a three-pointer twenty years ago. Forgotten?
– Even those who have a throw need preparation. So we just ran for fun. There was a moment when the lights went out, the clip about Ural Great began, and we were all standing together … Then the feeling came over that it was yesterday. You look at everyone and don’t understand what time you are in – now or 20 years ago, how old are you 40-odd or 20-odd. But when they stepped onto the parquet, began to warm up, they realized that no – everything is now. There is no time machine.
The legs are not the same, the muscles too. And we are still forty. But the very organization of this basketball festival was excellent. The idea to combine the match of the stars of the ASB, the birthday of Sergei Belov (January 23, Belov would have turned 78 years old. – ed..) and the retro-match “Ural-Great” went off with a bang. The only thing missing in Perm was a full hall. Only two thousand were allowed in due to covid restrictions, and it was felt that the sixth field player was missing. Because Perm fans are something. It’s a shame there weren’t many of them. But we met many years later, those who played then, who were related to the team. And it was incredible.
– There were probably a lot of memories?
– Yes, we mainly discussed how we look and what we are doing now. Although those wonderful years were also remembered. Everyone who played at Ural Great, including foreigners who came for a short time, always has warm memories of the club and the city itself.
The book Ural Great Comet, written by Alexander Fedotov specifically for the twentieth anniversary of that very championship, also made me remember a lot. So many cool pics! I want to come home and completely immerse myself in the past and feel this comet effect. But I am already convinced that the book is simply crazy, and I think it can become a textbook for those clubs that are just starting out, but already have ambitions. As a benefit.
“Peeking through the windows at traffic lights”
– In your opinion, what is the reason for your Perm phenomenon, which went on and on and suddenly came to take, albeit temporarily, the crown from CSKA?
– You know, in whatever clubs before and after that I played, nowhere and never was there such interaction in the team. The whole Ural Great, all the managers, coaches, players, masseurs, office staff, drivers – everyone lived absolutely like one family. Communication, worries for every game, help, no matter what happens. nobody wanted the club. Therefore, we squeezed out of ourselves not one hundred percent, but much more, we were afraid to let down this whole system built so conveniently. And of course, that same sixth player. Fans, who were recruited six to seven thousand for each match, are also disappointing did not want.
– Were you carried in Perm then?
– Well… to be honest, yes. It was impossible to walk down the street, go to a store, stop at a traffic light. People constantly approached, talked, invited to their dacha. Somewhere it got in the way. At the same time, I tried to extinguish star disease, which could easily develop when absolutely everyone is looking at you if you are just walking down the street. The whole city knew my car, at traffic lights they looked out the windows and wished me luck. After each game, I went out and cleaned the car from the notes with the girls’ phones, from the hearts. Someone just wrote on the machine, if there was no pen with a piece of paper.
“He broke a chair, and then he came with a smile”
– It was not easy after such a huge popular love to be in Italy, in Benneton (since 2012, Treviso. – ed. ), where did you go immediately after that winning season?
– Not at all. Then the Italian championship was the strongest in Europe. And there was exactly the same fabulous atmosphere, only with an Italian touch. So with the arrival in Italy, the emotions did not end. And the club was then a champion for several years. When I arrived, we also became champions and played in the Final Four.
– We know almost everything about football fans in Italy and almost nothing about basketball fans. What are they?
– They get sick like crazy! Hall at “Benneton” was smaller than in Perm, but was always packed to capacity. They knew every player, and every new player. In general, I got into a real championship atmosphere.
– Then crossed paths with Ettore Messina?
– No, he came just when I was leaving after a season. And I worked with Mike D’Antoni (now assistant to Steve Nash at the Brooklyn Nets – ed.). This is a unique coach whom I have never met before, and probably never will meet again. Everything that he came up with, all the schemes, all the ideas – everything worked. As if by magic. Of course, good performers were needed for this, but we had them.
But, most importantly, this is the most calm and smiling coach in the world. In no situation did he allow himself to yell at the players, which for me was even somehow wild. He always explained everything in an absolutely balanced and calm manner, pointed out mistakes with a smile even in the most difficult situations. Only once I saw how he gave vent to feelings. We lost at home. He went to another dressing room at half-time, away from us. And I was a little late and was just passing by at that moment.
So in this empty locker room, he threw or broke a chair for a long time, and when he approached our locker room, A smile played on his face again. By the way, we won that match in the end. He is unique and very talented. And maybe many coaches will not accept his methodology and consider it wrong. But she was, is and she works. He also worked in America, in the NBA. Always on the principle that there is one strong leader in the team, whom everyone trusts. And all players must be equal in order to be interchangeable in any position.
“If Itoudis were a Russian, they would have been fired by now”
– There is not a single domestic specialist left in the Russian clubs of the VTB United League. Why do you think?
– Yes, even in the Super League there are already few Russian coaches. I consider this situation a disaster. Why is this happening? Firstly, the trend and fashion, and secondly, the total distrust of our specialists. Why foreigners are more trusted, I don’t know. CSKA is losing a lot now. Who’s to say that Dimitris Itoudis is a bad coach? No one will say, because it is not so.
This is a top coach who has achieved results more than once. But a person loses, makes mistakes. Yes, somewhere there are injuries, somewhere there is covid and problems with the squad. There are always reasons. But if in this situation a Russian coach was at the helm in CSKA now, he would have been one hundred percent removed!
– Speaking of CSKA, is there a chance for UNICS or Zenit to repeat the feat of Ural Great twenty years ago and become a champion by beating CSKA?
– Three or four years ago, no one had any idea to get around CSKA. But this year, I think it’s possible. Only not “Zenith”, and UNICS. They didn’t just recruit good players, but built a great team game. Therefore, this season they have a chance to beat CSKA. But as Sergei Alexandrovich Belov said, CSKA is a very experienced tournament player.
They’ve always had a bad start to the season over the last ten years. They may even start the game badly, but in the end they always win. There were different years, there were injuries and problems, but in the end CSKA always got out. So now we need to talk not about whether UNICS will succeed, but about whether CSKA will cope with this situation.
“I would put everyone on the bar”
– You now live in Samara and you have your own basketball school, right?
Yes, she is a year and a half old. Now we have about a hundred children, but there is also a second direction – adult, amateur. People are 20, 30, 40 years old and they come to play. For them, we rent halls, organize mini-tournaments. It turns out that there are a lot of those who once played not at the highest level, someone played in their student days.
And someone just wants to play, first brings the children to school, and in the evening – he himself to training. In general, a whole layer of basketball players who still want to leave the ball and learn something. They are also trained, and I watch how these grown-up guys add. It starts a completely different game.
In addition, I have good partnerships with BC Samara, and five or six boys are already training in the club’s children’s projects. So everything works slowly. The plans include the development of 3×3 basketball. This is very promising.
– In principle, this is more interesting for children than the classic five by five, because there are only three people on the court, and the game is more dynamic. Everyone is constantly with the ball, constantly defending. Speakers – more than enough. In five to ten minutes, you can give everything and get tired like you won’t get tired at five by five in an hour and a half.
– Did you feel a surge of interest after the Tokyo 2020 silver medals in 3×3 basketball?
– All over Russia this surge. Plus, in general, the form is developing, more tournaments, more broadcasts. In 3×3 you can realize yourself even if you have never played professionally, and this is very attractive. Right now, during the ASB All-Star Game, there were a lot of guys who play professionally in 3×3. A lot of top 3×3 players, both Russian and European, come from student basketball.
– Did you like the level of basketball in the ASB All-Star Game?
– It was a good level, even excellent. And they showed spectacular basketball. It’s great that there is such a league where guys and girls have the opportunity to realize some of their ambitions, their talent to some extent, and just continue to play their favorite sport, moreover, in a real league. Compete and develop. There is only one problem…
– All our players pay attention to technique and tactics, but not enough to “physics”. Physically they are weak! We don’t have a proper gym system. In the USA, “physics” is in the foreground, they are first uploaded, and then technique is applied. On this basis, you can already sculpt anything you want.
Because if there is a good throw, but no good “physics”, this is, consider, nothing. In general, my main thought is: we need to drive them to the gyms. Even professional teams have problems with this, not to mention students. All the guys are great, but I would put everyone on the barbell.
– Do you often lift the bar yourself?
– I bought myself a subscription for the New Year, and I’m going to start. Decided that it’s enough to suck, it’s time to become strong. And then I argue here about physics, but I myself do not set an example. Everyone, now I will!
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