Exclusive interview with Federico Buffa
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on January 27, 2009
I can hear you from an Ocean away.. “Who the hell is Federico Buffa?”. Long story short: the best italian journalist covering the NBA. Currently for Sky Television.
He has been doing that forever, basically, and here he’s a living legend for every bball fan in Italy, despite still being in his 40’s (http://www.federicobuffa.com/).
Since you cliché-lovers old american asses always love comparisons, I think the definition of “italian Peter Vecsey” might fit.
Seriously, Federico probably knows the NBA better than many journalists living in the US, and is a real basketball junkie just as much as we all are. That’s why he enjoys talking to whoever shares his same passion, including your resident guido blogger.
He’s really a nice guy to deal with, that likes to crack jokes and talk hoops. I met him Friday 23 in Milan, and HERE IS OUR DIALOGUE:
S4G: So how many times did you watch the Sixers this year?
FB: Ten times ! I checked it before coming here (laughs). The last two Sixers games I watched were vs Mavs and vs Spurs, that I commented for Sky.
In that occasion you told a nice DiLeo story…
Yes, when he played in Germany he beat the Milan Xerox team I was rooting for and scored 36 points, in a Korac Cup game. It was 1974/75 if I am not mistaken and the game was played in Palalido, in front of… uhm, around 600 fans.
But the interesting thing is that by that time nobody cared about basketball in Germany, their League and their teams were pretty weak, and were supposed to lose vs us… instead, it was a blowout. I hated him (laughs).
But I always had the impression that he was a real basketball guy and a coach that works hard on the court. Totally different from, say, a coach like Ed Tapscott, another man who took over as head coach this year.
The impression I have is that Jim Lynam is more than an assistant coach to him, he seems to make many calls for the Sixers.
Jim Lynam is Philly basketball, period. Great coach. I met him many times, he’s a nice guy and loves to have drinks in good company (laughs). Anyway, great assistants always make great coaches. Actually Di Leo changed something in the rotations that clearly helped the team and boosted some players’ confidence. He’s doing a great job thus far, he surprised me, I admit.
Same here. Do you think he has chances to stay as a coach also next year?
Other coaches that you would see coming to Philly next year?
Avery Johnson, definitely (Ricky smiles in agreement). Maybe Saunders (Ricky nearly throws up).
How about Jeff Van Gundy?
Oh, I would love that, I’m a JVG fan. He’s the best at “teaching” basket and making his players better, also thank to his great staff. But he’s really demanding, he asks a lot to his players and after a while that can backfire.
I see Avery Johnson more fitting with the Sixers job, he would be fine for Andre Miller also. Avery doesn’t work well if his PG can’t watch him in the eyes. With Miller this wouldn’t happen. He is a little demanding too, but with a different style.
Do you see Lou Williams as a future PG for the Sixers?
No, I think he’s at his best as 6th man off the bench.
Brand is coming back and people say he could break the chemistry just created (the interview was made the night before Elton’s comeback).
I think he can fit in Sixers’ system, he is a great trailer. Sixers shouldn’t wait for him, it’s up to Brand finding the right place. If Sixers play their style of basketball, they take a shot in the first 10 seconds of each possession….
How about some small ball, with Brand as center?
I think Sixers can play that way better than anybody in the East. Thad is a fabulous four, and DiLeo had a major role in his improvement. He gave him more freedom, in this DiLeo is different from Cheeks, that was more “old school”, playing classic basketball.
Who’s gonna lose the spot in the starting lineup when Brand will be back full time?
I think Thaddeus Young, that is going to see his minutes cut a little bit also. I don’t think Iguodala can play the two for long stretches, he doesn’t have the required ball handling skills and can’t shoot coming off screens (so we’re stuck with Willie Green…).
Your boy Dalembert – Believe it or not, Federico loves Sam… he says he’s one of the smartest players in the League. OFF the court, he underlines, LOL – is going to be an All Star, he got a zillion votes…
(laughs) I would like to know who actually voted for him…
How come this guy, so intelligent according to you, didn’t improve at all over the years in the NBA?
I think he hasn’t improved since his Seton Hall years (laughs). Seriously, we all know his limitations but he can change the game like nobody in the NBA, in terms of defense and intimidating presence.
You see Sam being traded?
With that contract, it will be tough. But maybe someone will bite (laughs).
Let’s take a step back, to Cheeks’ firing. Did the move surprise you?
Not much, honestly. He had to pay the price because he wasn’t chosen by the GM, just like Sam Mitchell in Toronto, who also, and not coincidentially, got the axe this year. I think Cheeks is a good coach but he lacks something.
His firing was perhaps the most painful given his history in Philly and his lovely character. Fans liked him. Anyway, Stefanski showed some balls by firing him and giving the team to a coach with zero experience in the NBA. Clearly, he must have been supported by the ownership in that decision.
Speaking of (real) surprises, how about this Speights dude ?? I recall you weren’t high on him this summer.
Yes, I admit he is better than I expected. He’s coming out of a great basketball school, as his fundamentals show, has a great ball IQ and has nice little range. The Speights pick to me confirms that Sixers weren’t sure to land Brand before signing him. That move was a (underrated) masterpiece by Stefanski, who created the necessary cap space in a couple of days… of course, it took David Faulk also (laughs).
To conclude, do you see the Sixers making a move before trade deadline?
It could be, they just have too many assets, especially in terms of good, young players, and many teams will call them…
And would you make a move if you were Sixers’ GM?
No, I wouldn’t touch that chemistry.
Anything we forgot?
That we finally saw some real crowds at Sixers games lately !! (true !) And I would love to see more Philly guys in a Sixers uniform. Starting from my favorite player, Rasheed Wallace (we would like that too !!).
(in the second part of the interview, Federico will cover the NBA guidos, oops, !! italian players. Stay tuned.)