The Phoenix Suns introduced Igor Kokoškov as head coach on Monday morning.
“It’s a dream job,” Kokoškov said. “It’s a special day for me…I know it’s going to be a huge challenge and a lot of things have to be done, but I hope in perspective from five years from now, that the Phoenix Suns organization can say the same thing, that it was a special day for them too.”
Kokoškov was an assistant with the Suns from 2008-2013. In the 2009-10 season, Kokoškov was on staff when the Suns made it to the Western Conference Finals.
“We tasted and felt what it is being a part of the winning team and playing in June,” Kokoškov said of the ’09-’10 season. “I think the city of Phoenix deserves that, the fans who love basketball deserve that, and we’ll give our best to bring this organization and team to that path.”
James Jones: "The thing we liked most about Igor is his progressiveness… to put his players in the best positions to succeed." pic.twitter.com/z7EZxFFcrA
— Phoenix Šuns (@Suns) May 14, 2018
Kokoškov is a native of Serbia. He became the first European-born assistant coach in the NBA in 2000 with the LA Clippers and is now the first European-born head coach in the NBA.
Two-thousand and ten, was a big year for Kokoškov as it was also the year he became an American citizen. The ceremony was held on the Suns court.
Igor Kokoškov on Devin Booker: “He’s going to be a playmaker for us & one of the leading scorers in this league.”
— Suns Nation (@SunsNationNBA) May 14, 2018
The Suns have a “solid foundation” of talent on their roster to build upon, Kokoškov said.
“It’s no secret, the whole league, the whole world, is talking about the potential that we have, the talent that we have,” Kokoškov said. “Talent is not just the ability to score or make jump shots. It’s working ethic, it’s a lot of other stuff. I think we have a great foundation that we can build a really strong and good team.”
Kokoškov said that while the description of the Suns is ‘young,’ that doesn’t mean anything in terms of the success they could have.
“This is not the developing league, this is, NBA, professional league,” Kokoškov said. “There is no young or old, there is just good or bad teams. We have to work hard to get better.”
Kokoškov said despite his coaching around the country, his family has always considered Phoenix “home base” and that he’s excited to be back home more permanently.
“Sometimes you feel you have to leave to come back,” Kokoškov said of returning to Phoenix. “I’m fortunate to be here and I’m fortunate to have this opportunity.”