“I want to go to the world championship with the French team this summer”

On the occasion of the 2023 NBA Paris Game between the Chicago Bulls and his team, the Detroit Pistons, the former leader of Cholet Killian Hayes, in partnership with Hotels.com, handed over to Stephen Brun of Dream Team RMC.

It’s been three years since the NBA came to Paris, it was 2020 for Bucks vs Hornets, how did you hear the news in May 2022 and say to yourself “this is my team, we’re going to Paris”?

Yes, I found out a while ago and it was hard to keep it a secret because I didn’t have to tell anyone, but I was very excited, it’s a chance for me to come here to play games. There are a lot of NBA teams that could have been in our place, we were really lucky and happy to be there.

How is the atmosphere in the team, did your teammates say to you, “Killian, talk about Paris, what’s up”?

Yes, there are many guys who are in Paris, Europe for the first time. They’re excited, it’s Fashion Week, so they’re going to shop, everyone’s happy.

Have you planned a short return trip to Cholet or not?

Yes, I will try to visit my grandmother and my family there.

We’ll talk about your season with Detroit. I imagine it’s a double feeling for you because individually everything is going well, you’re very good, efficient, consistent, but collectively you struggle to win games. How are you experiencing this season?

Yes, there were good matches, but the goal is also to win, sometimes it can be frustrating, especially mentally when we have matches like this, but we are focused and we are really confident. It’s a long season, we still have a lot of games to play and we have to focus on that.

Can we talk about a click for you this season? How do you explain this transformation compared to the first two seasons, which were a little more complex and where you had your best season?

Yeah, my role changed a little bit, with Cade’s (Cunningham) injury, I started to get choked up and my shots started coming. I’m getting more and more confident, the coach is confident in me, my teammates are confident in me and it continues. I take the previous shots, but they come in, I shoot with more confidence, it’s beautiful.

How is your relationship with your coach Dwane Casey? I know he bit your ass a little bit in the preseason press conference and said, “Killian’s not a preseason player. He needs to grow up a little bit…”

I’ve always had a great relationship with Coach Casey. Casey, she is someone who truly cares about you, a person first. He’s a really good coach and a really good guy.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “this season might be my last chance to make it in Detroit”?

No, I don’t see it that way. Every season I was given a chance, like I said, the shots started coming and then you see things change a little bit. I really don’t see things like that.

You have been called up for military service in 2020. How did you deal with them drafting a point guard a year later that was Cade Cunningham again?

It’s not my decisions, it’s the front office’s decisions, Cade is a very good player, he’s one of my guys and that’s it. Then we match up, my combo is a guard, like I said, it’s the front office to decide, I’m just a player.

This Bulls-Pistons will bring us – for us old-timers – back to the ancestral meetings of the 90s, does that speak to you, have you experienced this side of history, Bulls – Pistons?

No, I don’t think I was born yet, but the story between Detroit and Chicago is very physical with Jordan, Bad Boys, Isiah Thomas. But then it’s a huge game for our franchise.

When you host the Bulls in Detroit, is there still that rivalry at the fan level, do you think it’s different than other games?

It’s been a long time since then, times have changed a bit, but fans are still excited when dealing with the Bulls.

It’s your third season in the league, you’ve been able to watch all the players, all the teams, give me your top 3 players in the league where you say to yourself, “Wow, they’re there. They’re really strong.”

I will say which one I think is the hardest to defend. I will say Luka Doncic, Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Brooklyn are tough. I’m going to say KD (Kevin Durant) and Kyrie (Irving), both at the same time. Both are hot to hold.

You gave me two playmakers. I think you rarely defend in Cannis, you gave me Luke and Kyrie exactly. Tell us a little bit about Luka Doncic. His performances are unusual with slightly different qualities, he is not a guy who makes his head spin. How do you defend yourself against such a guy?

He’s tall, strong and plays at his own pace, so it’s difficult because he’s so good in his own space and you step back or let him drive and he can find a pass. He is someone who is truly a “tough guy”.

We will open with you the French team page, which is a bit of a complicated story, even though it went well in the youth at U16 and U17, there was this kind of misunderstanding with Jean-Aimé Toupane at U20. You turned down an invitation to be a sparring partner for the Olympics. Where is your mind with the French team now?

Like I said, it’s something I want to do, I want to go to the World Cup this summer. Later, like everyone else, if I want to go there, I have to take my place and go to the meeting. It starts there, but yes, I’m very interested in doing the world championships this summer.

We know it’s a bit more open in your post, we know it’s protected in the internal sector. There is more openness in your playmaking position. We know that Thomas Heurtel closed the doors a little with his decision to go to Russia. Do you know that in a year and a half you have a great opportunity to host the World Championships and Games in Paris?

Yes, it’s something I have to do and want to do. Place is not given, I have to earn it. Whoever it is, I have to adapt to the style of play and make Collet work. I am very happy and excited to go to the French team.

Rather, you can find a guy named Victor Vembanyama, who has been talked about a lot this year in the French national team. How is he received across the Atlantic or even within the Pistons franchise? Do you have teammates asking you about Victor?

Yes, everyone talks a little, it’s a generational perspective you don’t see every day. It’s not our thing after the first pick, but we talk about it a lot in the US.

Or rather, you were talking about the first pick, Detroit will perhaps trend toward having the first pick if this continues. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Frenchman in Detroit. A point guard-power forward can be pretty cool, right?

He is a very good player who can help any team he goes to. Like I said, it’s the front office that deals with it, after that if it comes with us, it comes with us. I would be very happy too.

Hotels.com’s “Alley-oop on vacation” study shows that basketball fans will be willing to travel more than 700 km to see their favorite team play, with 80% of basketball fans already traveling to watch an NBA game.

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