Maceo Baston Interview
Maceo Baston, who on July 24 was officially signed by the Toronto Raptors, has a wealth of great overseas experience. He made a big name for himself in Israel, playing on a Maccabi Tel Aviv team that won championships both in their own country as well as the Euroleague. InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner was with Baston early in the 2006 season for an exclusive interview.
Again, although this interview is being posted in August of 2007, note that the actual conversation took place on November 4, 2006. It's about past stuff in his career and still worth reading, so we're posting it.
InsideHoops.com: Talk about your time on Maccabi Tel Aviv, and all the success.
Maceo Baston: It was great. Coming from minor leagues here, trying to get to the NBA, having stints in and out with Toronto, Milwaukee... they put together a great group of guys. We had an opportunity to win two championships -- should have been a third one, but that's a long story -- but to get to the Finals three years in a row definitely helped my basketball experience, growth and enjoyment.
InsideHoops.com: How was life in Israel?
Maceo Baston: It's definitely a hot spot in the world but we were safe, and we didn't have any threatening situations. It was really laid back where I was.
InsideHoops.com: In Tel Aviv, I think there was one big incident there in the entire year.
Maceo Baston: One thing a year. You don't even hear it, you don't sense it. People still carry on like nothing happened. Stuff happens all over the world.
InsideHoops.com: Israeli fans are really into basketball. Lots of overseas fans are, but over there especially.
Maceo Baston: Oh, yeah, the whole country is into us. We're like the team of the country. So every time we played, we represented ourselves and Maccabi but also the country of Israel. Being the only team from the Middle East in the Euroleague, that's kind of a big task that we had to look forward to, too. They support us well, cheering loud, being a sixth man on the court for us.
InsideHoops.com: Who were some of the best players you played against while overseas?
Maceo Baston: When I first went to Italy, [Manu] Ginobili was still with Bologna, and he was pretty good. There were so many guys that were good. Lots of talent in Europe.
InsideHoops.com: How would you compare international play with the NBA style of play?
Maceo Baston: It's definitely more of a team concept. Everyone gets into the game, moving the ball, feeding off each other. I think you feel more connected as a team there. NBA, it's definitely a team game, but it's still like night and day. It's more iso, more individual plays. Not so much overseas. I think both sides should take different sides of the game and switch them out.
InsideHoops.com: I notice that in overseas ball, when a guy cuts, a lot of times he'll get hit with the pass. In the NBA, lots of cutters get ignored and are really cutting just to pull a defender away for an isolation.
Maceo Baston: And it's really brought to attention. When it happens, [overseas] coaches will throw a fit on the court. And there's been times where I was playing and a starter for Maccabi, and I didn't execute a play right, and I came out the game, and had to think about it. It makes you really think about playing good team basketball.
InsideHoops.com: And what are your personal favorite career highlights?
Maceo Baston: The final in Tel Aviv (2003-04), where Derek Sharpe hit the shot to put us into the Final Four. That wasn't my play, but that just really stands out to me, as being on the team. We went on to win the Final by 44 points in Tel Aviv. But really, all the Final appearances have been special to me.