Marko Pesic Interview, Part 2
The Off-season's is in full-swing. The championship celebrations are now finally behind the Bavarians and the new tasks in the BBL and EuroLeague lie ahead. Time for a little pause, a look back and basic thoughts in an Interview with FCBB managing director, Marko Pesic.
Marko, club president Uli Hoeness is proud that fluctuation among basketball players has been kept to a minimum in past seasons. Some changes have been made recently, as short-term contracts are much more practical than in football. How difficult is it to have continuity?
Marko Pesic: We look at the playing qualities, but we also pay attention, perhaps more than others, to personality and character. To be up to date: After borrowing Robin Amaize and Devin Booker's not quite expected farewell, we are now forming a team with at least seven players who will stay with us, some of them for the fourth or even sixth year. Whereby Paul Zipser is actually also one of them. The most important thing is that players develop empathy for our project. Without empathy there's no identity and without identity you can't take responsibility. And Mr. Hoeness is right when he puts his faith in this continuity. We haven't won our titles recently because we're so much better than the others but because we have this community.
Can this be maintained in the future if you want to continue to develop at the highest level?
It's still a professional sport, and this includes it being a business. But the environment in Munich is definitely special. When I came to FC Bayern, I was looking for an apartment. Then my doorbell rang and Steffen Hamann stood there and said, "Come down, I'm here with a buddy, we'll help you with your search now!" Then I went to his car and Bastian Schweinsteiger was sitting at the wheel! I didn't even know him at that time and he said that Steffen had told him I needed an apartment, so he wanted to help me. We drove three hours through Munich, Schwabing, Gärtnerplatz, everywhere - and I always thought: Where is the hidden camera? After all, this is Schweinsteiger here! But then I noticed that this is the culture of FC Bayern. I made up my mind: If Schweinsteiger sets an example, I have to as well. The players remember that. Vladimir Lucic recently had very, very good offers but as soon as he had the security of being able to stay another three years, he didn't think about it for another hour. The contract negotiations show that they want to be here, they firmly believe in our future and in what has been and will be built here.
"And then Bastian Schweinsteiger is at the wheel!"
Losing a Paul Zipser or Maxi Kleber to the NBA hurt. How can you find a model to keep such young players and build them up into long-time stars in Munich?
Our goal is to eventually reach the same level as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and the big Greek and Turkish clubs. But you always have to say that, unlike other clubs, we don't have any cross-subsidies from football. We have to see that we are perhaps offsetting our somewhat weaker financial position by other aspects. Where are FC Bayern's competitive advantages? They are our cohesion and continuity. With us, a good player can develop into a very good one. When Paul and Maxi left, we weren't as far as we are today. Danilo Barthel could certainly have joined the NBA now but he stayed. This is because he recognizes the possibilities here. Paul now also sees the possibilities, which is why he is back again after three years.
You yourself stopped playing at the age of 30 with the reason: "Everything was just about earning money, I don't play basketball for that". How can that be reconciled with the position as managing director?
I still have a differentiated view of things. I played basketball from an early age because I come from a basketball family - it was never about earning money. Some people can now call me a romantic, but nobody can tell me the opposite. If I don't love what I do, I have to do something else. Our players will always get better offers, because without a doubt you can earn more with other clubs than with the basketball team of FC Bayern. But we are on a good way to anchor a spirit here that money is not everything. Our current team core suggests to me that it works. They have a tremendous character.
When Uli Hoeness wasn't here, development came to a halt. How important is the president?
His importance for FC Bayern and his life's work are beyond question. He has been hugely important not only for our project, but for the entire BBL. For example, he is responsible for ensuring that the league distributes the proceeds from the media revenue to the clubs. This is a milestone for the development of the Bundesliga. From my personal point of view, I can tell the following story about him: My contract expired two years ago. At the end of June, Mr Hoeness asked when we would extend the contract and I told him we had to restructure first. When we had implemented everything, he asked again: "What about your contract?" I said FC Bayern might need someone else now. He said: "Nothing there! There's no such thing as simply stopping, that's out of the question!" He said, we'll extend by two years, then we'll see how everything develops. I think I needed such an experienced man to stand behind me in this situation. We have rebuilt and built so much since then. Mr Hoeness was right: simply stopping when there is something to be done, it is not possible. I am always glad about his clear words.
Where will FC Bayern Basketball be in five years?
I hope that our basic attitude remains as it is today: In the next five years we will be one of the best clubs in Europe, competitively as well as organisationally.
You have won the championship six times as a player and now three times as a sports director and managing director, what are your futures hopes?
Let's see, my contract now runs for another three years. My personal goal once was to achieve a total of ten championship titles. There is still one missing. But I don't think I'll be able to sit back and relax. I'm not the type for that.