Clint Capela - interview Aargauer Zeitung


An interview from a Swiss newspaper in German language:

Aargauer Zeitung - 05.08.2021


Swiss NBA star Clint Capela: "I keep receiving death threats"
The Geneva basketball player Clint Capela holds his basketball camp in Zurich - in a big interview he talks about the downsides of being a professional. And he promises: "Soon we will win the title with Atlanta, then you will all know me."

Interview: Nicola Berger, Zurich

It is Wednesday afternoon in a school gymnasium in Oerlikon (= northern district of Zurich), young people are dribbling in the "Capela Camp", which was held for the first time, music by rapper Lil Uzi is booming from the speakers, and Clint Capela speaks into a journalist's camera. He was asked to explain briefly who he actually was, so he said, "I'm Clint Capela, I'm 27, I was in the NBA semifinals with the Atlanta Hawks. Soon we will get the title, and then you will all know me."

There is something remarkable about the last sentence - Capela is the best-earning Swiss team athlete in history, and he will be paid 18.6 million dollars for the 2021/22 season, which begins in October. He has just played what is probably the best season of his career, he was the rebound king of the NBA.

He is since a while a star in Atlanta. But in German-speaking Switzerland, the man from Geneva is only marginally noticed, which is also due to the local lack of interest for basketball. On the fringes of his visit to Zurich, Capela also spoke to CH Media about the dark side of his job.

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Did the Atlanta trade in January 2020 shock you?
Clint Capela: I wouldn't say that. There has been speculation about this in the media for a while. It was hard to leave Houston, I had good friends there. But we weren't successful enough, so it was clear that something would have to change. Fortunately, I ended up in Atlanta.

With the Hawks, you've exceeded all expectations this season. Hardly anyone believed this team would make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
That's correct. But we did, I mean: You need to believe in it, right? After the coaching change in March, we really turned it up. We have a young team, that was just the beginning.

The NBA season has been overshadowed by a number of injuries. After the forced break caused by the pandemic, were there simply too many games in too few days?
There were definitely too many games. We didn't have enough preparation time, so the injuries were no wonder. I wasn't fit either. In the playoffs I played with an injured Achilles tendon. When I got up in the morning, I could barely walk. But what can you do about it, with fewer games there would have been less money. That was also out of the question.

Speaking of money, you signed a $ 90 million five-year contract in 2018. Has the money changed you?
Of course it changes you. For better or for worse. I don't think it changed me for the worse. Money opens up opportunities, you can have fun in life. I enjoy that.

In Houston, your team-mate at the time, PJ Tucker, is said to have made fun of the fact that you "only" drive Rolls-Royce ...
That's correct. Because of him, I bought a Lamborghini. What can I say, they are just beautiful cars. And it's cool that I can afford it. But it should not be forgotten that there is also another side. It's not all just sunshine, although people may believe it.

Is it true that your car was demolished by angry fans in Houston after a playoff defeat?
Yes, it was like that. People are emotional. They bet on the games, more money than they can actually afford. And then they lose. I keep getting death threats.

I'm sorry, what?
Really often. On Twitter, on Instagram, everywhere. But I've learned to deal with it. In a way, it’s just part of this job, that's how the world is today. I ignore it.

How did you manage to be clarified like that?
You know, I left home when I was 14 and went to France so I could become a professional basketball player. I had to learn early on to think and live independently. That toughened me up. That helps me today.

A dominant theme in the NBA over the past twelve months has been the Black Lives Matter protests. The league and especially its players have done a lot to raise awareness of social injustice. Has it achieved anything, do you see any progress?
If you can sensitize people to an important topic, that always brings something. And yes, things are changing. Too slowly, but they are changing.

Thabo Sefolosha, your teammate in Houston in 2020, was once a victim of police violence in New York ...
Yeah and guess what? When we were playing with the Rockets in New York, Thabo and I saw the policeman who broke his leg. It was so weird. Thabo recognized him immediately, but we both could hardly believe it. The US can be a dangerous place to be, even today. Fortunately, I've never had to experience that myself and try to protect myself as much as possible by leading a quiet life. I am happy when I can watch a movie with my girlfriend at home.

You rarely stay in Switzerland. Why are you holding your camp in Zurich for the first time this summer?
Basketball lacks popularity in German-speaking Switzerland. My aim is to encourage children and young people to practice this wonderful sport - regardless of the level. I think wins help: if I were to become an NBA champion, it would help make the sport better known in Switzerland. For me that is a motivation. And I'll play for the national team again, if the game plan allows it.

Will there be another Swiss NBA professional after you?
I really hope so. If not, it will happen with my children at the latest.

What individual goals do you have besides winning the title?
That I can make it to the All-Star-Team. It will be soon. In my center position, I see myself in the NBA top 5. No, let's say top 4.