Brooklyn Nets: Mike James’ ex-coach blasts him over Euroleague exit

Nets PG Mike James (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Nets PG Mike James (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Though the vibes are high after the Nets clinched a playoff berth earlier in the week, the task of defeating the underachieving Pacers became a little more hazy after it was revealed that point guard Kyrie Irving will miss out due to groin soreness — and we’re also not sure how long this will last.

That means guard Mike James, whom Brooklyn signed to a 10-day contract last Friday, will be entrusted with a bigger role moving forward. While it would normally worry fans that a newcomer will be tasked with running the offense, James has actually made a seamless return to the NBA.

Unfortunately for James, however, he hasn’t been able to escape his past on a permanent basis. The former undrafted talent joined the Nets after an unceremonious exit from Euroleague power CSKA Moscow, which suspended him following an altercation with head coach Dimitris Itoudis.

Well, nearly a week after James signed with Brooklyn, Itoudis has broken his silence with  comments that seem to suggest the 30-year-old guard forced his way out of Russia.

Nets guard Mike James got flamed by former coach Dimitris Itoudis after his abrupt Euroleague exit.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Euroleague Final Four, Itoudis was asked about James’ departure.

In a clear sign of disrespect, the CSKA Moscow coach didn’t even use James’ name while discussing the state of the team following his exit.

"“In everybody’s job, if you don’t feel that you belong, then you try to find a way to go out,” Itoudis told reporters. “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.”“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.”"

For any curious Nets fans, Itoudis’ “I can’t do discount on ethics” quote was a blatant shot at James’ current pinned tweet, which he posted way back in 2016.

We’re not even going to dignify Itoudis’ comments with a response, but if this specific detail doesn’t suggest that their feud goes beyond the basketball court, then nothing does.

What fans in Brooklyn should really take away from this controversy is that James isn’t letting it impact his play. In his first three games since signing with the Nets, he posted 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 50% from the floor and 66.7% on threes over 16.3 minutes.

We know it’s an abnormally small sample size, but James is making a fantastic case to be Brooklyn’s top backup point guard once the playoffs come around. As long as his Euroleague dispute remains an afterthought, he should continue to provide a spark off the Nets’ bench.

Who knows? With Irving out and Bruce Brown still suffering from knee soreness, James could be poised to make his first NBA start in the days ahead.