- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- With New Jersey Nets star Deron Williams possibly sparking a wave of NBA players heading overseas during the lockout, the Los Angeles Lakers hired some basketball talent coming in the opposite direction from Europe.
The Lakers hired famed Italian coach Ettore Messina, who will serve as a coaching consultant to new coach Mike Brown, the team announced Friday.
"I am honored to have received this opportunity from one of the greatest basketball organizations in the world," Messina said in a release. "I have great respect for coach Mike Brown and I'm excited to work with him and his staff."
Messina was hired for a full-time position and will be with the Lakers for all of their games and practices, both home and on the road.
A source had told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher last month that Messina would join the Lakers.
Messina is coming off a two-year contract with Real Madrid in the Spanish League after completing a successful run at the helm of CSKA Moscow, winning two Euroleague championships and four Russian SuperLeague titles in four seasons with the team.
Multiple NBA teams, including the Toronto Raptors, Sacramento Kings, Nets and San Antonio Spurs, have flirted with getting Messina to cross the Atlantic Ocean to join their coaching staffs for years, but Messina's strong relationship with Brown, as well as the Italian coach's high esteem for Kobe Bryant, was the tipping point for him to come to L.A. this time around, according to a source.
Messina, 51, cut his coaching chops in the Italian League, where he manned the sidelines for more than 15 years. He won two Euroleague championships with Virtus Bologna and later coached Benetton Treviso.
His awards shelf is littered with accolades as well. Messina was named one of Euroleague's 10 Greatest All-Time Coaches in 2008. He also was honored as European Coach of the Year in 1998, Euroleague Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2008, and Italian Coach of the Year in 1990, 1993, 1998, 2001 and 2005.
He also has international basketball experience, serving as the coach of the Italian national team from 1993-97. He led Italy to the silver medal at EuroBasket in 1997.
The Lakers' last coaching consultant, Tex Winter, will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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