Since leaving, Barnies, a native of Maine, has been active on
social media (@TroyBarnies7 on Twitter), sharing
information he is getting from his Ukrainian teammates and
This morning, I spoke with Barnies over the phone.
Well, this insane.
"It is getting worse today. The city I was living in, my
teammates are still there. They aren’t allowed to leave. A lot of
my teammates aren’t from that part of the country and they aren’t
allowed to leave the city. We are in a big group text with the
players and management and I got a text from a coach today saying,
‘Hey we need help.’ I know that took a lot for him. They just kind
of want us to support them via social media. I mean, I can’t call
NATO. I am trying to spread the word, I guess."
I don’t think NATO is going to help
"Yeah, neither do I. What I know, the Ukrainians aren’t going to
stop fighting. They aren’t going to surrender their country. Even
my teammates are saying that. They are going to fight to the end.
They are going to die for their country. I don’t know how this is
going to pan out. I haven’t stopped watching the news."
How were you feeling when you left the
"I have really close relationships with guys on this team. I
love this team. I felt really welcomed in Ukraine. This is the only
situation I would leave a country and a team for. I don’t want to
leave my job in basketball – something I sacrificed my whole life
"My first year in Turkey in 2011, there were small terrorist
attacks going on in Istanbul – where I was living – but it was
small; it was miniscule. It didn’t get too much media attention.
This is the worst it can get."
How do you react to American politicians and cable news
praising Vladimir Putin – calling him a genius or
"I think it’s disgusting. Firstly, you have no say in this
now. Secondly, why are you taking sides with the clear bad guys? I
am not very political. I don’t like taking sides. I just like
thinking what’s right is right. I listen to people to get their
opinions, but with this situation, there could have been a
diplomatic solution. But it’s total disregard for human life – this
is insane. When I moved overseas and bounced around for a decade
plus I’ve learned to adapt to different cultures. I learn other
cultures. My sympathy for other people outside my country grew a
"If you have a heart, you will feel bad. They are humans just
like us – obviously. Part of why I am doing a lot of social media
with this situation is because it is the only way I can help. I
want to spread the awareness. These people are just like us. I was
just there. These guys are like brothers to me. This isn’t just
another world event. This is a big deal."
The Ukraine National Team had to play a game on
Thursday. How do you play basketball under these
"I haven’t had it to the extent where I’ve played a game when my
family is in a war in dire need of help. Right before I left, last
Thursday I had a game. With everything happening, when I got on the
court, when I got on the court and stopped thinking about the
outside world, I kind of flipped a switch. I could forget about the
moment. But I can imagine some people handle it completely
"It must have been hard. I can’t imagine how tough that
What is the Ukrainian league like? What about Ukrainian
"It’s physical. The refs in that league let you get away with
murder. Every country in Europe has their own style of play. In the
Ukrainian league they use their bigs a lot. They post up. It isn’t
just outside guys shooting 3’s. They are very aggressive. The
league is actually similar to the Russian league. They are both
"The fans are crazy – awesome crazy. My city, Mykolaïv, had the
best fans in the country. Our gym was filled every home game. The
city loves basketball."
I know this isn’t what’s important right now, but what
are you going to do? What is the situation with your
"It’s obvious, I play professional basketball and I just had to
leave a country that has been forced into a war. That’s lingering
over my head. With this situation I am in limbo. There is no way I
am going to try to talk to my agent and management right now about
my release papers and money owed to me. We are going to have to
wait, it doesn’t look like I am going back to Ukraine anytime
"Right now, my agent said just relax, be with your wife, take
some time off. I’ll figure it out when the time is right."