"My worst experience in Greece was failing the doping control last season. I was not able to finish the season, help my teammates in the finals to fight for the championship, which we had many chances to win. When you are working hard during a season, it is like a family. Your teammates are your brothers. Every day you live with them, so I feel that I disappointed them and the whole team with my mistake.
I feel many things, the worst of which are disappointment and embarrassment, because I am an important member of the squad. I bring energy and help the others, I want to be their motive, and when something like that happens, how are they going to respect me? I was very disappointed, did not expect such thing, it was a surprise for me and all the others.
It was one of the most difficult situations in my life, not just basketball, in life. I love playing basketball, I don't know what would have happened to me without it. So I felt like losing everything, that there is nothing left for me. I felt empty. I disappointed the team, my family, the fans, my name, everything. It was a very difficult moment, I could not even go out, speak with anybody. So much shame for myself.
I stayed inside for 2-3 days, then started going to the beach. I had to go out, because life carries on. One of my tattoos says that "when it rains it pours, but this shall too will pass". Things are not going to be bad always, it will pass. In a week, in a month, something new will happen. I had to be ready for anything, anything that could happen. It was the biggest thing I had to leave behind and overcome.
I am happy for being in such condition, still able to play basketball. I am happy for being a member of Panathinaikos, the kids want to learn things from me. It was an awful but important experience. During this season, after an away loss against Aris, I went out at Thessaloniki with some of my teammates. Not to have fun or anything like that. Some people took photos of us, put a story along and everyone believed that.
We did not do anything stupid, did not drink or anything. Just a few yours out, someone took a photo and made us look bad. Still, we are professionals and we have to respect the decisions of the administration and coach. Europe and America are different in that, in Europe they don't think that we have the right to go out. They claim that you have to train a lot a sleep well in order to remain in good fitness condition.
Things are different in America, you are paying the players there to play basketball. No matter what happens, they have to perform well. Go out if you want, but at the next day you will have to do your job during the game. Score 30 points if that is what they are asking from you, grab rebounds, play tough defense if this is your role. You have to do your job and there is no problem, no matter what you did last night.
They will never speak about it again. As a professional, you have to understand if you are missing something from your game by going out. If you do it often, have a lot of fun, talk to girls and that has a bad influence in your game, then you have to be professional and say enough is enough. But forcing us not to do this, not to that is not right, we are not kids in college any more.
Still, our incident after Aris clash went public, on the websites, the fans reacted angrily and all these during an important fight. We were trying to win the championship. I understand their opinion, it seemed like Panathinaikos is not a serious club and the players just want to go out and have fun. They lost a match, but still want to visit a club and have fun. This is how it seemed and it is not right for the image of a professional athlete.
The administration was frustrated and had every right for that, we made the team look bad. We lost from a side not as strong as Panathinaikos, we showed weakness and now the players are having fun like nothing happened. That makes us look even more weak and I am not representing James Gist, I also represent Panathinaikos, and if I make them look bad, I have to pay for that. That's the whole story.
I respect the opinion of the head coach, it is not my work to tell who should be playing and who should be not, who to punish or not for that. I am just playing basketball, it is the job of the coach to decide who will use or not. And it is the job of the administration to decide if they want to punish somebody with a money fee for his behavior", said the experienced American power forward at SDNA.