History was made in the Eurocup last week when Mire Chatman of Ventspils became the competition’s all-time top scorer, adding another accomplishment to his personal roll of honors. Chatman started his Eurocup career with Ventspils and is set to finish it 10 years after leaving the club for the first time. Chatman, 36, is in his eighth Eurocup season with five different teams – Ventspils, Dynamo Moscow, Triumph Lyubertsy, Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul and Unics Kazan – and is one of the most relevant figures in competition history. Chatman won the 2006 ULEB Cup with Dynamo and is also the Eurocup’s all-time leader in performance index rating (1,405 index), steals (163), turnovers (216), free throws made (293) and attempted (395), and fouls drawn (398). He also ranks third in career assists (281). Despite his solid all-around performance, averaging 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 7 games, Chatman thinks this may be the last season we see him on a Eurocup court, as he told us in this Eurocupbasketball.com interview. “I thinking that this might be my last year, honestly. I always thought that if I didn’t have the same speed and quickness that I had, it was time for me to retire,” Chatman told Eurocupbasketball.com. “I really don’t want to retire on the low, when I have to, but at a high point.”
Hello Mire. Congratulations on becoming the Eurocup’s all-time scoring leader. How does it feel to be part of the Eurocup history?
“Thank you. It feels good! I had a long career and it is weird, because I wasn’t really looking to score and some coaches wanted me to be a pass-first point guard, so being able to accomplish this is very, very nice.”
Does breaking the record with the same team you started your Eurocup career make it even more special?
“Yes, it does, it does! It makes it very special! I mean, one of the reasons why I came back to Ventspils was trying to finish up somewhere I started. I think it is very special to me.”
What does it take to be a consistent scorer so many years?
“I don’t know, but I think it is being aggressive and trying to score in many ways. I was able to go to the free throw line a lot, so maybe that helped, too. It depends on what kind of a point guard you are. If you are an aggressive or fast point guard, it is tougher for the defense to focus on you all the time.”
Unfortunately, the scoring record didn’t come with a win. The loss against Lokomotiv Kuban leaves Ventspils in a tough situation. What happened in this game and how tough was this loss?
“For us, it is very tough because we need to win every game that we can at this point to try to make it to the second round. We knew we were playing against a tough team and they sat out a couple of players, but we were still aware that they were a good team. I think we played good defense but our offense was not good enough to get the win.”
You will play against your former team, Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir, this week. How important is that game and how much are you looking forward to going back to Izmir?
“For the team, I think it is very important. Like I said, we probably have to win the rest of the games to be in the second round. Every game we play is very important for us. For me, personally, going back is going to be great because I think that when I played for Karsiyaka, I had an MVP season. It is going to be great to be back at their gym. They have the best fans in Turkey; there is no better place to play.”
You are putting up the same numbers as six or seven years ago. What’s the secret?
“For me, as a player, I don’t label myself as a point guard or a shooting guard. I just try to go out and play basketball. Whatever happens, I am a player who likes to rebound and pass, so I think that my all-around game helped me out throughout my career, because sometimes I will not be able to score a lot of points in a game, but I have a lot of rebounds and assists. One of my favorite players, Magic Johnson, still motivates me these days if I watch him on TV.”
You did not play anywhere last season. What made you return to play basketball with Ventspils a decade later?
“Like I said before, I thought it would be special to end somewhere I started. I wasn’t worrying about money or anything that had to do with any other club. When this opportunity came up, I thought it was just great, a good story for me to tell. I have played for bigger clubs but coming back to the club where I started my career was great. Of course, you have to take some sacrifices but it is OK. I can’t complain!”
Of course, your best Eurocup moment was winning the competition with Dynamo Moscow in 2006. What do you remember about it?
“I remember the whole season! I think we lost maybe two games in the regular season and after that, we didn’t lose any games in the playoffs. We had a very successful team and it was probably one of the best years I ever had as a basketball player. It was just nice and the final against Aris was very good because their fans had the arena shaking (laughs). It was good for us to play in that environment. We didn’t have so many fans but they kept the gym alive!”
You are 36 years old and playing really well. How much time can we expect to see Mire Chatman on a basketball court?
“I think this might be my last year. I am thinking that this might be my last year, honestly. I always thought that if I didn’t have the same speed and quickness that I had, it was time for me to retire. I really don’t want to retire on the low, when I have to, but at a high point.”