Polski
русский
Українська

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

Maksym InshakovNews
Ukrainian basketball player gives a frank interview

Ukrainian powerful forward Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk became the second ever representative of our country to win the NBA title. He went through the entire season and won the Finals with Boston, and the Celtics, having won the 18th trophy, thus becaming the most decorated team in the history of the league.

Svyatoslav talked about his historic season with the Celtics, his impressions of the Finals, and the patriotic actions during and after the NBA championship series.

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

Did Svyatoslav Mykhailyuk dream of such a basketball career when he started his basketball career in Cherkasy?

- He did, but they were just dreams. I always wanted, like all kids who start playing basketball, to get into the NBA. To get this chance to play here, to have a successful career. But to become an NBA champion is something incredible. Only two players, myself and Slava Medvedenko, have ever won this title - he with the Lakers, me with Boston - the two most titled franchises in the history of the league. It's all incredible and I still can't believe that I was a part of this historic season.

It's a very emotional moment for me as a player from Ukraine who started his career as a very young boy in Cherkasy. To reach the championship title with one of the best NBA teams in history... My first coach, Maksym Mikhelson, was with me for the fifth game, it was something incredible.

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

You're an experienced player, but did you have any excitement when you first stepped on the court in the NBA Finals?

- A little bit, but still, in the first game, when I first came out in the finals, everything was already decided. Then there was the fourth game of the series, which we played in Dallas, and I had the opportunity to play 10-13 minutes. I wouldn't say that there was excitement, but the emotions were very intense.

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

What made it possible to unite all the stars of Boston around one goal?

- Understanding basketball, plus it was the best team I've ever been on in terms of mutual understanding between players. Everyone was on the same page, there was no such thing as someone not liking someone. On and off the court, everyone was like best friends. The mutual understanding between the players was the best I've seen in all the years of my career. It was like that when I played in Cherkasy Monkeys at the age of 14-15, when people were so connected. It reminded me a lot of what we had in Boston. It was a pleasure to come to the gym every day and work with these people.

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

What have you learned this season as part of the best team in the NBA?

- A better understanding of basketball, but it's not just about this year, it's about all the teams I've played on. And in Boston, I saw how it's done in championship organizations. It's a great experience, both on and off the court. Everything was at a very high level. And very important is the relationship with people. If everyone is on the same page, everyone understands what needs to be done, it makes the process much easier.

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

How did you come up with the idea to come out to the celebration with the Ukrainian flag?

- My friend and coach brought the flag into the arena. It was planned that if we won, I would be with the flag of Ukraine. We took a photo that can't be erased now. For 100-200 years, as long as this photo exists, there will always be the flag of Ukraine.

It was the same with the sneakers with the inscription "Glory to Ukraine" that I wore to the fourth match. I wanted to support the country in this difficult time so that everyone could see it.

I'm not the kind of person who makes a lot of reposts on social media, but it's important for me to do such things, or to do things that people might not know about. People don't know that Oleksiy Len and I have a foundation in which we have invested a considerable amount of money together. The foundation operates in my hometown of Cherkasy, my parents are running it. We help displaced people, help them find homes and provide food. I am very proud to be a Ukrainian and always support the country as much as I can.

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

How important is it for you to succeed with the Ukrainian national team?

- I always want to play for the national team, I always come to the team with big ambitions and goals. At EuroBasket 2022, I thought we had a very good chance of getting in... I would say getting into the top 4. That game with Poland was very important, but it didn't work out. So we need to keep working, and I think our team has a very good chance if we bring all the players together so that everyone understands what needs to be done to succeed. We have young players, we have veterans, we have a very interesting team.

I wanted to support my country during the NBA Finals because I am proud to be Ukrainian - Svyatoslav Mykhailiuk

Svyatoslav, what would you wish to young Ukrainian players who, looking at your success, are just starting their way in basketball?

- The first thing is to believe in yourself. After all, if a person does not believe in themselves, there is no point in working. You need to understand who is around you, that these people around you want the best for you, not for themselves. At a young age, it's very difficult to understand what everyone wants from you. I was very lucky with this, and it has a great impact on career development.

And you have to work very hard and not listen to other people's opinions. You have to understand that everything can work out, no matter where you are from: Cherkasy, Kyiv, or any other part of Ukraine. If you work hard and believe in yourself, if you realize that you can achieve something, you will succeed.

Other News