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Spurs hire CSKA Moscow's Ettore Messina as assistant coach

By James Herbert | NBA writer

Ettore Messina is going to San Antonio.
Ettore Messina is going to San Antonio. (USATSI)

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The San Antonio Spurs have hired legendary coach Ettore Messina as an assistant on Gregg Popovich's staff, the team announced on Tuesday.

"I am honored to have such an accomplished individual join our program,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “Coach Messina is an exceptional coach, a great leader and someone we can all learn from."

Messina joins the Spurs after spending the last two years as the head coach of the CSKA Moscow in the Russian League, his second stint with the team. Before returning to CSKA Moscow, Messina served as a coaching consultant for the L.A. Lakers in 2011-12. Prior to making the move to the NBA, Messina spent four seasons (2005-2009) at the helm of CSKA Moscow where he led the team to two Euroleague Championships (2006, 2008) and four Russian SuperLeague titles (2006-2009).

Before coaching in the Russian League, Messina served as a coach in the Italian League for over 15 years. He earned two Euroleague Championships (1998 and 2001) as well as several Italian championships with Virtus Bologna, where he had two stints as head coach (1989-1993, 1997-2002). After leaving Bologna, Messina went on to coach Benetton Treviso from 2002-2005, guiding the team to an Italian championship in 2003.

The hiring was first reported over a month ago, but San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford initially denied it. It's long been believed that Messina would be the first European to get an NBA head-coaching job, and this could get him closer to that.

For the Spurs, this is just an example of the rich getting richer. It's not like the team needed another coach with an amazing resume on the bench, but here we are.

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