Ahead of the NBA Paris Game between the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls, legends of the game sat down with pundit Mo Mooncey to reveal their throughts. In the hotseat were Detroit Pistons’ Ben Wallace, Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah and former France international Mickael Pietrus.
Wallace, who was a defensive stalwart amid the Pistons’ golden era, and is the all-time leader in regular season and playoff blocks, now represents his team as the basketball operations and team engagement advisor.
Sitting down with Sky Sports’ Mooncey on Wednesday, he spoke at length on the youth set-up within the current team and how this will benefit the franchise in seasons to come.
“The future is very bright,” he said. “If we can keep them healthy and together for a couple of years, they [the youth players] are going to have a huge presence in the league.”
He mentioned Jalen Duren’s potential, in particular, when asked about the abilities and contributions of the 19-year-old.
“I don’t think he sees the potential he has as a basketball player five, six years down the road, he’ll be an All-Star. His work ethic, and the little things he does, the way he covers the floor…when he realises how great he actually is, he’ll show us a lot more.”
Bulls legend Noah also had his say on his team’s current status, and how special it would be for them to return to Paris, given the history the franchise had in the French capital with Michael Jordan’s famous feats.
“It’s very special for people in Europe to see the highest level of basketball, and special for me too, the Bulls vs Warriors game in 1997 was the first game I watched,” he said.
Noah also commented on the talent of the French additions TO the league, and how the high-scoring games we were seeing as a norm, were simply because the players were getting better and better.
Pietrus, who played alongside some of the greatest European prospects to grace the court, had more insight on the topic.
“The culture in basketball wasn’t big when I started out playing,” he said. “It became so because of my generation, Tony Parker and the others at the time.”
He sees that same excellence in the prospective, projected No 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama.
“He’s going to be great if he stays healthy, he’s going to be the next Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s so tall and he can move the ball and run.”
Mooncey finished things off by asking Pietrus if he thought the Bulls or the Pistons would be able to win a championship title, and who it would be first.
“The Bulls, they have history, you have to bring back the Michael Jordan memories, one day they will put a team together to win a championship, I would love to see them win,” he replied.