The Brooklyn Nets signed Mike James on April 23 as a means of padding their depth. In a limited sample size, the 30-year-old guard has so far delivered.
Appearing in three games, James has averaged 7.0 points, 3.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 0.7 3-pointers, precisely the type of boost the Nets had sought off their bench.
Still, James departed from his former EuroLeague team under some eyebrow-raising circumstances. On Wednesday, more details about those circumstances came to light.
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Mike James’ Former EuroLeague Coach Rips Him
Before arriving in Brooklyn, James played for CSKA Moscow, which suspended the 6-foot-1 guard in March after an altercation with head coach Dimitris Itoudis, according to the New York Post.
On Wednesday, after CSKA Moscow became the first team to qualify for the EuroLeague Final Four this season, Itoudis revealed more about the decision to suspend and then release James.
The gist? Itoudis felt he had no other option. “I can’t do discounts on ethics,” he said, via eurohoops.net.
Here’s Itoudis’ quote about James in its entirety, via eurohoops.net:
On such a day I wouldn’t like to criticize some people, but I will tell you this. In everybody’s job, if you don’t feel that you belong, then you try to find a way to go out. Ιf you feel that you belong, you will give your best self, regardless of what’s your position… But if you feel that you don’t belong there, then you don’t try to find a way. In a team which is a body of 15-16 people with different ideas, you have to bring them under the same umbrella. You know, traditions are not winning. We have a great tradition, but the culture is winning, the everyday effort is winning, being composed is winning, being well prepared is winning, and definitely last but not least in such an organization as a head coach I can’t do discounts on ethics. Otherwise, you are going to lose the team. And we are not losing the team. They gave their answer over here. You can see that. And I am proud of what I am seeing every day in practice, on trips, on meetings. Every decision is a hard decision. I am always in favor of the team effort and for those who feel that they belong. We feel that we belong and we like what we do.
The report by eurohoops.net also included a 2019 email from Milan coach Ettore Messina to James in which Messina explained why the team was going to buy out James.
Eurohoops.net credited Italian newspaper Gazzeta Delo Sport for publishing Messina’s email to James, which read in part: “By my choice, you will have no space in our team next season. As I told you in our telephone conversations when I took control of the team in June, I have the utmost respect for your talent but I am worried by the long list of behaviors and violations of the team rules you’ve had in the past season.”
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James Finding Early Success in Brooklyn
For now, James’ troubles overseas have not seemed to follow him to Brooklyn.
“Mike’s been great just coming in and playing his game,” Nets guard Joe Harris said, via Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “He’s just a good point guard, being able to get into the paint, create for guys, does an excellent job driving and finding open guys. But he can also get his own shot, too.”
Added Nets star Kevin Durant, also via Lewis: “At his age, with his experience, [James is] one of those guys you can throw in there any time and he can be himself.
“He knows who he is as a player. Once guys figure out what their games are like and how they approach the game, it’s easier for them to just slide in and contribute right away. Mike’s one of those guys.”
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