Banks, declaration of love in Varese
Interview with the shooting guard from Memphis. “Coming back was fantastic; the atmosphere around me always spurs me on to play better.” And as he awaits the return of his little son, he confesses, “Yes, I’d like to stay.”
This time, the shoes are a greenish blue, with orange soles. But the smile and courtesy are still the same; Adrian Banks, let’s call him “Adrian Banks II”, to differentiate from the Adrian Banks of last year, is possibly the most interesting person on the 2013-2014 Cimberio team. Basketball, leadership, ability to excite the crowd. And then, rap, the social networks and his unconditional love for Drizzy, his little son, who will soon be visiting; well, after all that, maybe the current Banks isn’t so different from the one we saw in the season of the “Unforgettables”, but in substance, the shooting guard from Memphis, 28, seems to have grown both on and off the court.
“Last year,” he admitted, “the leadership was still more distributed among the members of the team. When I arrived this year, I found a fantastic atmosphere among the public, and among the team. This is important for me; sometimes, when a player comes back to his old team, he’s ‘tolerated’, but that’s not my case with Varese. I sense a great atmosphere, I like it and it helps me.”
You also seem to have improved from the point of view of playing, at least on the 3-point shots, where you’re much more accurate now (from 29.2% to 57.9%). Have you done any specific training?
“No. I think that the higher percentages come from a better selection of shots. In the past, I was more inclined to force them, and maybe, I had fewer solutions available, because the area was taken up by Dunston, and with the ball in my hands, I had less room. But now, I’ve got more choice; sometimes I can shoot more freely, other times, I try to enter, or stop and shoot. I’m also the victim of more fouls, for example (average 4.7 per match, against 3.4, ed.).”
Be honest: when you landed at Malpensa and from there, went immediately to Paris for the first match of the season, what did you think when you saw the Cimberio team at that time?
“When I came back, I hadn’t played for a while, and I hadn’t trained for two weeks. So I didn’t look at the others too much; I had to concentrate on myself, on my work, on my performance. I had followed Varese from a distance, and I knew that it was a difficult time, but I immediately felt the affection for me. As soon as I arrived, I felt at home, I was immediately happy to be here, I found so many people who had loved me. This is what I thought more about.”
It might be too soon to talk about it, but, you know, a lot of people are already hoping you’ll stay next year, too.
“Well, I think it’s possible. Of course, I’m now thinking particularly about the matches we have to play and about reaching the playoffs, but I like Varese, and if I had the chance, I’d be happy to continue to play here. And when I speak about Varese, I’m not talking only about the team, or the company organisation, but also about the people, the places, and the town.”
But the sporting objective this season is still the playoffs, right?
“Oh, yes. We have a different challenge from last year, and we want to try to reach the playoffs again. Unfortunately, for a team like ours, which has to be built up again (he emphasised the verb, ed.), it isn’t easy to repeat results like those of twelve months ago. This can be done by those who change little from one year to the next and remain at a high level. For Varese, it’s more difficult, as we have to change several players, but we should also remember that the Eurocup gave us an experience of the next level up.”
People are expecting a lot from you, but they’re also waiting for your son, Adrien, with open arms.
“He’s about to arrive, and he’s happy to come and see me in Italy, although he told me that first he has to celebrate his birthday (9 February, the same day as Adrian’s) with his friends. They’re going to be two special weeks with him, also because he was with me less this year than in the past. It’s a great sacrifice for me not to see him, but I also want to tell the people of Varese that they’re fantastic with me. Every day, and I mean every day, I meet someone who asks me about Drizzy, who wants to know when he’s coming, who wants to say hi to him. And you can’t imagine how happy that makes me and how close it makes him feel to me.”
– In the meantime, the company has been thinking of Banks, to create a T-shirt, in collaboration with “Manymal”, the Varese fashion label, who are currently busy producing a garment that promises to be popular among the fans. Adrian is providing his body, with its many tattoos: the photographic set was prepared a few days ago, and a first promotional video has just been produced. If they’re lions, they’ll roar …