Nenad Krstic: "Everybody wanted to be the MVP"
Nenad Krstic: I feel very disappointed. Everybody expected us to win a gold medal, but we played very bad and the disappointment is great in all of our nation. At this moment, it's a very bad situation. I don't know. At this moment, it is very bad. Very bad.
What went wrong for this to happen?
NK: The atmosphere. You know, because we had a lot of stars on our team – NBA players and European players. We had a couple of guys who had been playing on the National Team for 10 years. On the other side, there were players like me or like Darko or Radmanovic that have been just a couple of times, very few years with the National Team. We had younger and and older guys and the attitude was not so good. Besides, we had a lot of pressure because we were playing in our country and everybody was expecting the best. It's very hard, but I think we had the best team in the European Championship. We had very good players, but I don't know...
What was the reason for the atmosphere to be so bad? Was it that you had young guys on one side and the veterans on the other side, or was it that there were bad apples on the team?
NK: Yes... We didn't have a leader. We didn't have a guy in the locker room that was a leader. A couple of years ago, we had a guy like Vlade Divac. Other times maybe Sasha Djordjevic. We didn't have that. At this time, we didn't have that. So maybe there is a problem there. Everybody wanted to be the best player, so maybe... It's very hard. But I tried to do everything and the coach tried to do everything he could. He spoke to everybody – before practice, after practice... It's very hard. I can't explain. It's very difficult now... I can't explain.
How did the players take all the criticism from coach Zeljko Obradovic [Obradovic said players hated each other and would go mad if he stayed with the team more time] after the game against France?
NK: I don't know because I didn't speak with the players after the coach said all that. But I can say that some things of what he said were right and some things were wrong. I think he should have said that before this game and the European Championships, not now that Serbia is eliminated. So I think... That's my opinion. Like, if you said something, say it before it's over. He should have done something about all that before. Do something to stop it.
Can you tell me exactly what happened in the locker room after the game against France? Were things as ugly as Obradovic said, with players fighting?
NK: Of course, everything he said it's true. That's the truth. There was not a big, big fight like... Well, I can't find the word. Not a great fight. But there was pushing and everything. People yelling at each other. Players getting mad, you know. But we stayed in the locker room for one hour and a half after the game, you know. And I think that was the worst moment of my career for me. It's very hard.
How would you rate your own performance in the tournament?
NK: I'm not in right shape right now because I had a surgery before the tournament. But, you know, I played just 15 minutes per game. It's not, like you say... I was not the man. I just made certain things – the pick-and-rolls and did the right things... But it was a hard situation because on the team it was like everybody wanted to be the MVP. It was hard to play.
You were not happy with your role on the team?
NK: Hmmmm... What can I say? When you win, no matter what role you play, you are happy. If you lose, nobody is happy. So I got to say now that had we won the European Championship, there would not be as much criticism now, with people saying that we went out too much. But now, when we've lost, everybody is saying bad things about us.
Let's talk a little bit about the NBA now. Training camp with the Nets starts in a couple of weeks. Are you going to the United States now or will you wait a little bit?
NK: I'm going next Wednesday. I'm a little bit tired after playing here. Mentally tired. I'm not physically tired because I was just playing like 15 minutes per game in the tournament. Not a big deal. I will just take a break of one week and prepare myself for another NBA season.
How do you feel about the moves New Jersey has made this summer?
NK: They are doing a great job. We have a good team – Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson... They took Marc Jackson, I think. I spent the summer in Serbia, so I haven't talked a lot to the guys down there. But Marc Jackson, McInnis, the first-round pick we got... I think we'll have a very good team.
What should be the goal for New Jersey this season?
NK: It's too early to say, you know. I can't say now because I don't know what the other teams have done. I guess we'll have to wait. I don't know now.
Because of the way you played in your rookie year, many people think you have All-Star potential. Do you see yourself as a future All-Star?
NK: (Laughs) I don't know. I hope so. I'll try to make it, but it's very hard to be an All-Star in the NBA. I wanna play, you know. I just want to play with Jason Kidd and guys like Jefferson and the other guys. That's an honor. It's very hard to be an All-Star. And I don't think too much about being in the All-Star Game, anyway.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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