Tomas Satoransky on Barcelona, Messi, JC Navarro, and a Wizards Future | Wizards Blog Truth About

Tomas Satoransky on Barcelona, Messi, JC Navarro, and a Wizards Future

Updated: July 30, 2014

[Ed. Note: Tomas Satoransky was drafted 32nd overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2012 draft and entered basketball free agency this summer after playing five seasons for Cajasol of the Spanish ACB League. There was once speculation that the 22-year-old from the Czech Republic might be primed for the NBA—the Wizards wanted him to play in the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League—but opportunity and dollars did not make sense at this point, at least for Tomas, in terms of what the Wizards were willing to relent. He didn’t want to have to prove himself in another summer league (after suiting up in Vegas in 2012), and he certainly didn’t want to be buried on Washington’s bench as a point guard behind Andre Miller, and John Wall, of course. In late-June Satoransky agreed to a two-year deal with FC Barcelona, one of the two powerhouse franchises in the Spanish ACB League. Shortly after signing, Satoransky spoke with the media in a two-part video series that can be seen here and here. TAI’s Czech correspondent, Lukas Kuba (@Luke_Mellow), provides a translation of that interview below. —KW]

Tomas Satoransky at Czech Rep. national team's training camp before the 2015 EuroBasket Qualification games

Tomas Satoransky at Czech Rep. national team’s training camp before the 2015 EuroBasket Qualification games

Tomas Satoransky on a dream come true—playing for FC Barcelona

“Thanks to the success of FC Barcelona’s soccer team, Barcelona’s always been on my mind. It’s a great experience and adventure to play for Barcelona. I’m glad they had confidence in me to sign me. Barcelona has a great reputation in any sport; its basketball team is one of the best teams, at least in Europe. Moreover, I wanted to stay in Spain, so it’s kind of a dream come true.”

On a possible meeting with Lionel Messi, the phenomenon of FC Barcelona soccer:

“When I was there [in Barcelona] to sign my contract, I also went to Nou Camp [FC Barcelona’s soccer stadium]. There’s no way I’m going to let the opportunity to go watch a soccer game there slip away. It’d be a sin if I didn’t do that. I’ll be going to watch soccer at Nou Camp regularly. I don’t know how the Barcelona soccer team and the Barcelona basketball team are interconnected yet. Of course, I’d be glad if we could meet with Barcelona soccer players out there. I’d definitely like to meet Messi. The soccer is a huge draw there, not just for fans, but for tourists as well. Firstly, the tourists go to take a look at Sagrada Família, and then the next stop is [FC] Barcelona’s sports museum. That’s why the museum has a daily attendance rate of ten thousand people. Really a great experience for everyone.”

On being a Real Madrid fan (note: Real Madrid is the primary rival of FC Barcelona in Spain):

“For a long time I’ve been rooting for Real Madrid [soccer team]. I had their posters pasted on the wall in my room in Prague and I always watched the Real Madrid TV channel. I watched each and every game in the Zinedine Zidane era. So now I’m a bit afraid that I’ll have to kind of go into withdrawal from it. No, I didn’t confide this fact to the Barcelona brass… I think it wasn’t important. (laughs) Now this fandom has to quickly go away.”

On other Spanish ACB league teams that wanted to sign him:

“Yes, there were several teams [interested in me]. Although, I wouldn’t want to name them—it’s unnecessary. I wanted to stay in Spain, because I know the ACB League, and it’s the best solution for me. For example, Valencia was a major possibility, but ever since I learned about the interest of Barcelona, I didn’t want to play for anyone else.”

On the medical exam in Barcelona:

“It was a very thorough one. So far in my career, I had only a medical exam in Seville and another one just before the NBA draft [2012], but you can say that Barcelona has one of the best medical centers in Europe. If there was something wrong, they would have certainly found it. It went on all day long, I had a heart examination done, blood tests, and so on.”

On the prestige of playing for FC Barcelona:

“Absolutely. For me it‘s very prestigious. After all, Barcelona is a perennial contender for all the titles: Euroleague, Spanish League, Spanish Cup… It’s a big responsibility and pressure on players. I hope that I can get into it quickly during the first months, just to cope with it. I’m glad that we have another point guard on the roster, Marcelinho Huertas. He’s a veteran and has experience with these things. Just historically or in the Euroleague, Barcelona belongs among the biggest clubs in Europe. That’s why I can say that playing for Barcelona, to cut a long story short, is a goal I’ve always dreamed about.”

On being around big-name Barcelona players like Juan Carlos Navarro (once a draft pick of the Wizards):

“It’s my personal goal, just to be a leader of this team, the team with players who have won almost everything. They are undoubtedly the stars, especially Navarro, who broke all kinds of records in Euroleague or Spanish league and for me it’ll be a great experience. But from what I know about Navarro, he’s likeable off the court, very friendly as well, and tries to help young players. So hopefully it will work.”

On having too much respect for veterans like J.C. Navarro:

“Probably not. After all, I have already played against him for five years [in the ACB league], so there’s no big respect to speak of. Of course, there will always be a mutual respect between us as teammates.”

On playing fewer minutes on a big club like Barcelona next season:

“I took that into account when I signed the contract. I know that I won’t play 30 minutes per game like last season in Cajasol Seville and there will be a huge pressure on myself, but I went into this knowing the situation. I’m ready. I don’t want to say that I have had everything for free in Seville, but now I’ll have to fight for playing time and I’m looking forward to it. I needed a bigger challenge and competition [in the next phase of my career.]”

On playing under demanding coach Xavi Pascual:

“I’ve already chatted with him and he explained his philosophy. It’s a little different than in Cajasol Seville, you can say Barcelona plays in a more organized and closed system. This coach adheres to using a lot of play calls, he has about one hundred of them in the playbook and he prepares 30 for every game. So it’s a bit more orchestrated, but they also have a lot of young players there.”

On playing in Euroleague:

“I’d hate to say what our goals are for next season, because I‘m a newbie here and I don’t want to sound too cocky. But this is FC Barcelona, so the goal is always to win championships. Just the fact that they advanced to the Euroleague Final Four five times over the last six years confirms that next year they want to achieve at least the same result.”

On playing against his Czech buddy Jan Vesely:

“Yes, I’d be very glad if I got the chance. To compete against his team [Vesely is reportedly on his way to Fenerbahce in Turkey] in the Euroleague group stage… I’d love to play against him for the first time in our careers. I believe it’ll come to pass.”

On if he wanted to send a specific message to the NBA by signing with Barcelona: 

“I don’t take it [as some kind of statement]. I think from the Wizards’ side, there was an interest—they wanted me to play for them next season. It was a difficult decision process for me, but in the end I listened to my heart. I hope that this will be another step on my way to the NBA and hopefully this doesn’t close the door to the NBA. I hope a little that this opens the door to the NBA for me, because coming over there from [a club like] Barcelona will carry some weight. I think Barcelona is prestigious for the entire NBA, and I think even more NBA scouts will see me play.”

On his two-year contract with Barca:

“I directly wanted to sign for a longer term than one year. It’s tough to acclimatize yourself to such a team in just one year, so those two years were logical for me. I got a buy-out [after the first year] in the contract, but it is quite high so it’s unrealistic [that I’ll play for the Wizards in 2015-16]. I feel like I’d want to play two years in Barcelona and fit into their system.”


Lukas Kuba