The newest production in the Insider Documentary Series created by Euroleague Basketball tracks the personal and professional journeys of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague stars Toko Shengelia and Mike James. As the title attests, the two have "Crossed Paths" on multiple occasions. The film follows CSKA Moscow's 2020-21 EuroLeague season, with Shengelia and James among the team’s stars.
Shengelia takes viewers back to his roots in Georgia and shares the path that ultimately took him to Moscow. Along the way family members, childhood friends and current and former teammates and coaches are interviewed to reveal more about Shengelia and his background.
“For me, religion, my country and my family are the three important things in my life,” Shengelia attested. “Believing in God is a way of life for me. I have felt his blessings ever since I was a little kid and ever since then I have felt that God is in my life every day.”
James too sheds light on his childhood in Portland, USA, and his on- and off-court personalities.
“I think I’m a totally different person off the court thank I am on the court. I think off the court I mostly just joke around all day, singing, laughing making fun of people. That’s basically who I am 93 percent of the day," James described himself. “I think in the games a little bit more calm. Sometimes I’m a little bit too emotional."
CSKA signed James in the summer of 2019. The following year, Shengelia joined the team, thus reuniting the pair four years after they had helped Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz reach the 2016 Final Four.
"That was defiantly a special team and it was special to be a part of it. I still keep in touch with a lot of those guys, which still shows how close we are,” James said of that squad.
"I am a big believer in chemistry. We had a group of people that was great people, hard workers, fighters and hungry people. So I believe that this is the ingredient for success," added Shengelia.
Both Shengelia and James are former All-EuroLeague selections and are considered to be among the most talented players in the competition, in no small part due to their work ethics.
"The work ethic is the reason I am where I am right now. This is something I would say is my talent,” Shengelia said. “If you are not working hard, if you are not working more than other people, you are just going to be the same level as anybody else. So if you want to be better than someone, I believe that you have to work harder than anybody in the room."
All the signs pointed towards CSKA model 2020-21 having all the ingredients to go far, just like the last time Shengelia and James had crossed paths. Indeed, despite the struggles of a difficult season, they had CSKA aiming high, but the ending was not at all as the two had expected.
"Crossed Paths" is the latest film in the Insider Documentary Series, which captures the intimacy behind the EuroLeague spotlights and provides full access to the protagonists and the people who know them best.