After six years abroad, playing football in Spain, Lithuania, Russia and becoming the First Team All-EuroLeague in 2021, Kevin Pangos signed a two-year agreement with Cleveland Cavaliers and achieved his dream of entering the NBA.
Pangos, 28, has played a total of 11 games this season, averaging just 4.2 minutes per game. He also played in a G League game for the Cleveland Charge, in which he beat the program with 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
In an interview with HoopsHype, the former Gonzaga Bulldog talks about his entry into the NBA, his role in Cleveland, his playing experience in Europe, as well as his future.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Kevin Pangos: So emotional, it’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. I was excited about the opportunity, very happy for my family, and then motivated to get to work right away.
KP: It was good. It was a learning experience for sure. It was a great opportunity for me to learn. It’s something new. A new game style, play with new opponents, new tactics. For me, it’s a huge opportunity for growth. I like it very much. Our organization is great, we have great people and we are doing great; Win a lot of games. So it’s fun.
KP: Well, I’m happy with how it turned out. I’m here to get better every day. And you know, just trying to see how much value I can bring to the team.
KP: No, it’s not hard to get a stomach ache. It’s my choice at the end of the day. It’s something that I’ve talked to a bunch of people about the opportunity to go and sweat, and compete with an opponent. This is an opportunity for me to get to know the NBA game, as the rules and tactics of the G League are more similar to the NBA, and also to stay fit and work on my game.
KP: I honestly don’t listen to it. But that’s their opinion. For me, playing at the highest level is something everyone should aspire to do. And it’s no secret that the NBA has some of the best players in the world. It’s not far from European basketball, because obviously I know what kind of talented people there are, but you don’t see people like that. Steph curry, Kevin Durant, and overseas players of that level. So for me, it’s an opportunity to challenge myself against the best players in the world. That’s what wakes me up in the morning; try to keep making yourself the best player you can be and give your best.
I don’t think there is one thing that is clearly best between the NBA or Europe. I felt this year was a great opportunity to play in the NBA, I had the opportunity to play in the NBA, and so I took it. If something similar happens to other players, and they have a chance to go to the NBA, but they don’t choose, they feel Europe is the best option for them. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I think to be honest it just depends on personal preference, and the time in everyone’s career, their role in each team is different. Everyone’s situation is different. I will not judge anyone else for their choice. This is the one I chose and I’m very pleased with it. I can honestly say that.
KP: I really have no idea. I followed EuroLeague, I love watching the tournament, I have a lot of friends there. But I haven’t heard anything about specific situations. As for myself, I’m obviously in Cleveland, so I’m not sure.
KP: Well, a lot of both. I’ve had some great opportunities, playing for some great organizations, in great cities. I really like that. I feel like in six years abroad, I have grown and become a basketball player. Some of the things I don’t like are the ups and downs that come with playing at such a high level abroad. I’ve struggled with not-so-stellar play, struggled with injuries, various things that challenge all athletes. That’s the hard part for me. But overall, I also had a great time there with my family.
KP: I do not know. It’s easy for people to forget that I struggled for a number of years abroad, nor did I play brilliantly. Like I said, for me being here, is trying to be the best player I can be. I’m trying to capture the NBA game. So I don’t know at this point. I won’t be able to think about anything until the end of my career. Currently, I am still in the process of trying to develop as a player.
KP: It’s important to me to go into the arenas, like in Red Star (Belgrade, Serbia). And during the EuroLeague song, you can’t hear yourself, you can’t think straight because it’s so loud. They drowned out the EuroLeague song with all the noise. Those are close memories, so many passionate fans. You have the bird or the cat running through the arena, that’s one of a kind.
KP: There are many of them. Up and down game. There is a lot of space on the floor, because of the difference in the rules. Tactics are also different.
KP: I don’t know the answer to that, to be honest. What makes this question difficult to answer is the different playing styles and tactics. There are very talented players and teams abroad. And those who follow European basketball or have played in Europe, certainly know it. The style of play as I said is different, so the transition to that may be more difficult. The games are two different games. It is very difficult to compare.
KP: We will definitely talk about the knockout round. Right now, we’re in a great position, in the Eastern Conference. We obviously know that this is a long season. We are sticking to the process of getting better and improving as a team. The knockout round doesn’t start today. So we’re focusing on that, getting better, when that time comes at the end of the season.
KP: I have kept it very simple. I want to bring value. And that’s where I stuck because, night after night, I didn’t know exactly what my role would be. So whether I’m on the field, even if I’m not playing, I’m trying to deliver value. Whether it’s speaking to my teammates and helping them, whether it’s on the field and giving energy, I want to bring value to this team and help them win. And when I keep it at that level, it’s simpler than trying to think too much about anything else.
KP: A lot of guys have impressed this year. And you can tell with the way that our team is playing. Darius Garland It’s amazing, he’s obviously smart about basketball, but he’s also shown leadership. And then the big guys like Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen was incredible, both defensively in the protection of the rim, and then just a presence attack. Those guys stick to me. Their impact on both ends of the court.
KP: That is a great question. That’s what I’m wondering as well. And that’s why I say that at this moment, I’m trying to be the best player I can be, and let the rest ofs develop on their own – whether it’s in the NBA, in Europe, I don’t know… I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience both. We will see what the future holds. Right now, I’m just trying to live in the moment.
https://hoopshype.com/lists/kevin-pangos-nba-cleveland-euroleague-future/ Kevin Pangos on NBA dream, Cavs role, overseas experience