Jeremy Pargo left Europe two seasons ago after establishing himself as one of the most athletic guards in the continent. After spending two seasons in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers, Pargo is back to Europe at the age of 27 as he joined another European powerhouse in CSKA Moscow.
Throughout 2010-11, his first and last season in Euroleague, Pargo averaged 13 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists. The guard was one of the leaders of Maccabi Tel Aviv on their way to the Euroleague final that they lost to Panathinaikos Athens.
In the same season, Pargo was also named RealGM’s Euroleague Rookie of the Year.
RealGM caught up with Jeremy Pargo to talk about his time in the NBA, his decision to join CSKA, the upcoming season in Russia and more.
RealGM: First of all, how has your game changed since the last time you played in Europe?
Pargo: I'm a smarter player. I can shoot the ball better. I have a better knowledge of the game overall.
RealGM: How did making your dream come true and playing in the NBA change you personally?
Pargo: It didn't. I'm still the same guy I was before I got my shot in the NBA. It just showed me that I had the ability to play in that league all along.
RealGM: You've played for three different NBA teams. Where did you feel the most comfortable - Memphis, Cleveland or Philadelphia?
Pargo: I felt most comfortable in Cleveland. I was given an opportunity, unfortunately by Kyrie Irving being hurt. Coach Byron Scott showed a lot of trust in me, and I was able to play with some freedom. It was just unfortunate the way the situation ended in Cleveland.
RealGM: Your playing time in the NBA was quite limited. If you would have to identify a thing or two of your game that NBA fans didn't have a chance to see, what it would be?
Pargo: I don't think fans saw how athletic I am. It was really tough to showcase all of my abilities in limited minutes. I feel I showed flashes of my athleticism in my time in Cleveland, and was even able to put it all together in some games.
RealGM: Do you see yourself making another attempt to establish in the NBA?
Pargo: That's a year or two away, and not my focus at this moment. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, I'm happy where I am, and looking to make the most of my opportunity here.
RealGM: Before you joined the NBA, your break up with Maccabi was full of mystery. Could you explain how you decided to leave Maccabi for the NBA and would do that the same way again?
Pargo: It was really a timing issue more than anything else. I had a wonderful experience playing for Maccabi, as it helped me grow in so many ways. At this point, I really only want to look forward. I will always wish Maccabi and their fans nothing but great success.
RealGM: Why did you choose Israel as your first and second stops in Europe? Is it because of its American-friendly environment and good weather?
Pargo: Israel was a good opportunity to start over, and a very American-friendly environment. My senior year of college was not exactly what I wanted it to be, and I felt like I needed to start over from scratch.
RealGM: Talking about your new team, how long it took to make a final decision to join CSKA?
Pargo: Given the rich history of the CSKA Club, it did not take very long for me to decide to move over to Russia. I had a meeting with the coach and the front office, and needless to say, the meeting went well. I felt in my heart that the right decision for me at this time was to join CSKA.
RealGM: As you were not receiving big minutes in the NBA, have you ever cached yourself thinking "now I could be playing in Europe?"
Pargo: Of course you catch yourself thinking that, and you try your best not to think it, but we're all human, we all have thoughts, speculations, and curiosity about what could be if we had done something differently. I did my best to make the most of the opportunities I was given, and I didn't cry over spilt milk.
RealGM: Have you already discussed your role with CSKA? Are you planning to become a starting point guard or do you feel fine coming off the bench?
Pargo: I'm looking forward to helping my team and gelling with my teammates. My role is to be myself, and I'm looking forward to playing along with my team, and helping my team in every way possible.
RealGM: What are your expectations for the upcoming season? Is anything but winning a championship in Euroleague a failure for you and CSKA?
Pargo: With CSKA, making the finals two years ago, and losing in the final four last season, people will expect a Euroleague championship at this point. Right now, we're focused on what's going on here in practice and training camp, but we are looking forward to the season beginning in October. What may come at the end will come; not to say that we are not looking to win championships though.