A 23 anni non riesco più ad immaginare cosa sarebbe stata la mia vita se non avessi “scoperto” il Basket.
Persone ben più qualificate di me han speso (e tuttora spendono) le migliori parole possibili per descrivere quel meraviglioso Gioco che è la Pallacanestro.
Il Basket è un Gioco, a mio modo di vedere, fortemente meritocratico. E, allo stesso tempo, difficilissimo da raccontare.
Avendo come sogno di vita quello di poterlo raccontare professionalmente, è naturale ispirarsi a coloro che segnano epoche del racconto sportivo.
Sono abbastanza sicuro di poter affermare che in Italia, appena dici “Basket” e “TV” (o “raccontare il Basket” o simili), i primi due nomi cui pensi sono quelli di, in rigoroso ordine alfabetico, Federico Buffa e Flavio Tranquillo.
O “BuffaTranquillo”, un’unica parola. Come le coppie che han fatto la storia dello sport, tipo “KobeShaq” o “JordanPippen” o “StocktonToMalone” e via discorrendo.
Il “Natale NBA” italiano quest’anno si arricchisce di “The Reunion”, 90 (tondi tondi) appassionanti minuti di conversazione tra le due voci principali della pallacanestro nostrana negli ultimi 20 anni.
“The Reunion” scivola via lasciandoti quella sensazione di “I want more”, di voler continuare ad assistere a quella che è, sintetizzando al massimo, un incontro tra due vecchi amici che si raccontano la loro passione sottolineandone alcuni aneddoti.
“The Reunion” è, per stessa ammissione di Tranquillo a inizio trasmissione, un qualcosa realizzato per il pubblico, per gli appassionati, per coloro che sono cresciuti con la voce narrante di “BuffaTranquillo”.
Durando 90 minuti precisi, “The Reunion” si può dividere in due tempi da 45 minuti, quasi come due atti di uno spettacolo teatrale.
Il primo atto è un viaggio all’interno del rapporto “BuffaTranquillo”, una cronistoria del loro avvicinamento al Gioco tra gli anni ’70 e ’80, con molti momenti “inediti” e poco noti. C’é anche spazio per quello che secondo me è uno dei momenti più interessanti del programma: una riflessione accorata e autocritica sul “metodo Buffa-Tranquillo”, la loro metodologia di raccontare le partite riempiendole di aneddoti che oggi trova tante riproposizioni (anche nel raccontare altri sport) ma che anche poco tempo fa non raccoglieva un elevato consenso.
Ricordo bene quando “rivali” comunicativi di BuffaTranquillo lamentavano l’eccessiva tecnicità del loro linguaggio e come questo potesse essere un ostacolo nell’accesso al Gioco. Nel mio caso, ma probabilmente anche in quello di persone che oggi raccontano il Basket meglio di me (e che ho la fortuna di conoscere personalmente), questo metodo ha rappresentato uno stimolo nell’accedere al Gioco: la curiosità di sapere, capire, quegli aneddoti e quelle storie, oltre alle dinamiche del mondo NBA. Un qualcosa che non è esclusivo della mia mentalità di vedere il Basket, ma che è parecchio condivisa e diffusa tra gli appassionati, come testimonia l’ottima intervista allo stesso Tranquillo di Dario Vismara sull’Ultimo Uomo.
Il percorso del “primo atto” si conclude idealmente a fine anni ’90, al momento in cui l’NBA torna sull’allora Tele+, che la affiancava alla copertura dell’NCAA. College Basketball di cui Buffa era seconda voce a quei tempi, periodo ricordato da video di repertorio che i nostalgici di quel periodo ameranno moltissimo.
Fine anni ’90 che segnano il passaggio dal primo al secondo atto: con il ricordo della prima telecronaca NBA del duo (Lakers-Suns del Novembre ’97) si passa alla parte più attesa dalla maggior parte dei Fan: una lunga retrospettiva (di circa 45 minuti) sull’NBA nel periodo BuffaTranquillo, dallo storico All Star Game ’97 di Cleveland con la premiazione dei 50 migliori giocatori di ogni epoca all’ultima telecronaca NBA del duo, la Gara 7 del 2013 tra Heat e Spurs.
Si parte dalle squadre che han segnato maggiormente queste 17 stagioni (gli ultimi Bulls di Jordan, i Lakers del Three-Peat, gli Spurs e gli Heat dei Big Three): 45 minuti ricchi di aneddoti e memorie, spesso inedite, sui protagonisti di questo lungo periodo della storia NBA, con ovviamente uno spazio dedicato a Kobe Bryant e al suo prossimo ritiro.
I 90 minuti di #TheReunion scivolano via leggermente, tanto da rendere interessanti anche i momenti definibili come “autocelebrativi” (non mancano le occasioni in cui Buffa e Tranquillo, che prima di tutto sono due amici, si complimentano -giustamente- a vicenda per la loro carriera ricca di soddisfazioni).
Una Reunion che potrebbe avere un seguito nei prossimi mesi e che rappresenta un “testamento spirituale” perfetto dell’amore per il Gioco da parte di due persone che han passato larga parte della loro vita a raccontarlo. Un programma, perfettamente costruito e montato dal team di SKY Sport, che nasce come un unicum e probabilmente è speciale (anche) per questo: quando le cose sono rare tendono ad assumere un valore maggiore.
Roberta Vinci’s interview after Serena’s Us Open Upset
A 300/1 favorite to win her US Open Semifinal, Roberta Vinci shocked the Tennis and Sport World by stopping Serena Willams’ run to a Calendar Year Grand Slam.
After an amazing comeback win, Vinci won fans heart with a joyful and open-heart on-the-court interview.
Kobe Bryant announces his retirement from Professional Basketball
With an emotional letter on the Players’ Tribune, NBA legend Kobe Bryant announced his upcoming retirement from Pro Basketball.
The rest of the 2015-16 Lakers Season is going to be a long Farewell Tour to the Black Mamba, a unique catalyst of feelings, and an occasion to reflect on a long and incredible career.
Robert Lewandowski scores 5 goals in 9 minutes
On September 22 Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski entered the game against Wolfsburg right after halftime, but not even the most optimistic fan would have ever dreamed what happened in the second half first 15 minutes.
The Polish number 9 made history, scoring 5 goals in a 8 minutes and 59 second arch. And they were one better than the other.
Usain Bolt stays on top of Athletic’s World
Jamaican World Record Holder Usain Bolt entered the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing not in the best physical shape, with the concrete chance of losing his long primacy to controversial former Olympic Champion Justin Gatlin.
But in the Stadium where his legacy started, he reminded us why he’s the number one.
Gregorio Paltrinieri breaks the oldest Swimming World Record
Young Italian freestyle Swimmer Gregorio Paltrineri has had a breakout year in 2015.
He finally consecrated himself with winning the Gold medal in 1500m Freestyle at Kazan’s World Championship, but he was able to do more of that, by breaking the oldest Swimming World Record on books, the 1500 Freestyle Short Course one, made in 2001 by Swimming Legend Grant Hackett.
Danilo Gallinari breaks Germany’s heart at 2015 EuroBasket
After a long series of injuries, in 2015 Danilo Gallinari reminded us why he’s one of the best European players of his generation.
He scored an impressive 47-point-game Career High early in the year with his Denver Nuggets, but his most impressive performances were during the 2015 EuroBasket, where he led his Italian team through a though Group Stage with lots of impressive plays and numbers.
His clutch Game-Tying shot against the host German team has been an inexplicable moment to witness live.
MSN is alive, leading Barcelona to Football Dominance
My generation has grown up with MSN messenger, the first viral system to chat and communicate with friends worldwide.
Windows Live Messenger was discontinued in 2013, but the acronym regained new life with the explosion of the outstanding FC Barcelona trio of striker: Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar led the Catalan team to their second Treble (first team in Football History to accomplish that) in 6 years in 2015, scoring (as of today) 135 goals in the calendar year for Barça.
Golden State Warriors made Sport History
2015 was, without a doubt, the ‘Dubs Year’.
The Golden State Warriors won their first NBA Championship in 40 years, after an historical season (their 83 wins, combining Regular Season and Playoffs, is the 3rd highest in NBA History). But they were often labeled as ‘lucky’.
After that claims, they started the 2015-16 NBA Season with 24 consecutive wins, crashing by far the previous League Record (no team had done better than a 15-0 start in NBA history) but also making an all-time record for North American Professional Sports.
Klay Thompson’s Insane 37-point Quarter
Basketball fans could have feel that 2015 was going to be the ‘Warriors Year’ already on January 23rd.
Golden State entered the second half against the Sacramento Kings with the game in balance, when Klay Thompson made a 2-pointer for the 61-58 Warriors lead, with 9’45” remaining to play.
That basket was the beginning of an NBA Record: 37 points in a Quarter, the result of a perfect shooting display (13/13 from the field, 9/9 from the 3-point line, 2/2 on free throws).
Wawrinka defeats Djokovic in Roland Garros Final
2015 was a Record year for World Tennis Number 1 Novak Djokovic, whom was able to win 3 Grand Slam titles, 6 Master 1000 Tournaments, playing 15 consecutive finals (out of 16 tournaments played) and making All-Time record in Prize Money earnings.
He was only the third player in tennis history to reach, in a calendar year, all 4 Major Finals (after Rod Laver and Roger Federer), but the surprising loss to Stan Wawrinka in Roland Garros Final prevented him from a Year (and Career) Grand Slam. For now.
Flavia Pennetta wins US Open and announces her retirement from Tennis
Roberta Vinci’s exploit against Serena Williams was only one half of the fantastic cake baked by Italian Tennis Player in 2015 US Open: the american Slam saw a first-ever all-Italian Major Final in Pro-Tennis history between Vinci and Flavia Pennetta, two longlife friends both coming from Puglia.
Pennetta later prevailed over her fellow national, conquering her first Grand Slam title (on her first Final), and after that she shocked Tennis World by announcing her retirement, in ‘Sampras style’.
Jamie Vardy, Leicester making Premier League History
After 16 games into the 2014-15 Premier League Season, Leicester Football Club was at the bottom of England’s main Football League, with only 2 wins and 10 overall points.
Today, with 16 games into the current season, the Foxes are on top of England’s Football, with 10 won games and 35 points.
One of the reasons for such a turnaround is Jamie Vardy, a striker whom was playing semi-professional league Football only in 2012, able to make a new Premier League Record scoring in 11 consecutive matches.
Chelsea’s Downfall in just 7 months.
Chelsea Football Club began 2015 in fashion, winning their 5th League Cup and, later in May, their 4th Premier League title in 10 years (5th in team history). José Mourinho’s return to Blues’ bench paid off.
What no one could have ever imagined is that, as of today, Chelsea is living an authentic nightmare and one of the most unthinkable and quick downfalls in Football History, being only one point over Relegation zone after their loss to Leicester, a one resulted in the end of Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge.
Dinamo Sassari Historical Italian Treble
2009/10 was a season of ‘firsts’ for Italian Sport. For example, FC Internazionale became the first Italian Football Team Ever to accomplish the ‘Treble’. It was also the season, in Basketball, of the First Ever Promotion to ‘Serie A1’ for Dinamo Sassari.
5 years later, Sassari made Italian Basketball History by accomplishing a National Treble, winning ‘Supercoppa’, ‘Coppa Italia’ and ‘Scudetto’ after an amazing and unthinkable ride.
Wisconsin Stuns Kentucky’s Perfect Season Dreams
I started the piece with an amazing upset in 2015, I end it with another one.
The Golden State Warriors are rewriting a lot of NBA records.
While they seems unstoppable, is it worth asking ourselves if their incredible winning streak (22-0 to open the NBA season, 26 consecutive regular season wins -counting the final 4 2014-15 games-) is the most impressive in Basketball History.
I will take in consideration both historical overall winning streak record in 5 basketball main context (NBA, NCAA, Euroleague, Spain and Italy top leagues) and best winning streak to open a season (considering “modern era”).
OVERALL WINNING STREAK
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) – November 1971 to January 1972
NBA Winning Streak Record belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers, whom were able to win an impressive total of 33 games in a row in the 1971-1972 season.
Bill Sherman coached a team led by several Hall of Famers like Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, featuring also Elgin Baylor’s last NBA games before retirement.
Lakers’ streak began on November 5th, 1971, after a 6-3 start in October. Their 110-106 win against the Baltimore Bullets meant the start of two consecutive unbeaten months, being their streak-ending-loss on January 9th, 1972, against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 33-wins streak was the highlight of a 69-wins Regular Season, an NBA record at the time, passed only by 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10 record). They went on their way to win, later that year, Franchise’s sixth NBA Title, the first one since their moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.
During that stretch the Lakers average an impressive 123.3 points per game, with an average win differential of 16 points.
UCLA Bruins (NCAA) – January 1971 to January 1974
Probably the more unbeatable of the streak, the 88 consecutive wins achieved by UCLA between 1971 and 1974 surely represents a landmark in Sports History.
With Hall of Famers like Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes and coach John Wooden, the Bruins were able to stay unbeaten for two consecutive NCAA seasons, dominating college basketball with a 23.2 average win margin and a tenacious defense (only 61.7 points allowed per game).
During their streak, UCLA won three NCAA Titles, which added to their previous four wins since 1967 makes a total of 7 consecutive championships, a College Basketball record.
The streak came to an end on January 19th, 1974, due to a loss to Notre Dame, the same team which UCLA had lost his last game before the streak’s start. A late 12 points lead wasn’t enough to reach win number 89, but surely Bruins’ record will stand along for decades to come.
Real Madrid (Spain) – November 1971 to February 1974
Another historical streak straight from the 1970s is the Real Madrid 61 consecutive wins, a record for Spanish Basketball.
The Blancos managed to stay undefeated for the whole 1972-1973 season, plus big parts of 1971-1972 and 1973-1974.
The astonishing Real dominion is highlighted by an incredible average winning margin of 32.8 points per game, by far the best one in the streak considered here.
Madrid’s long winning path met an end in the 1974 clasico vs Barcelona, due to… a tie.
That game in Catalunya ended 58-58, as no overtime periods were expected at the time. Real went on to win the national championship that season, alongside with the European Champions Cup.
Olimpia Milano (Italy) – February 1962 to February 1964
To track the Italian record we have to travel back to February 2nd, 1964, the day when ended the historical Olimpia (Simmenthal) Milano’s 47-games winning streak.
Led by Hall of Famers Cesare Rubini and Sandro Gamba, and by Italian Legend Sandro Riminucci, Milano reacquired the dominion of National Basketball with two consecutive titles during that streak, prevailing over their historical rivals Ignis Varese.
The series ending loss, occurred at the hands of Livorno, planed out the way to Varese’s return to Italian Basketball’s throne.
CSKA Moscow (Euroleague) – November 2006 to April 2007
Modern Era Euroleague has seen, in its brief history, a lot of great teams and amazing players. Competition is hard and it’s really tough to achieve a long winning streak.
That was the case of CSKA Moscow, able to score an impressive 18-win streak during 2006-2007 season, despite an attack under the standards of the team mentioned before (‘only’ 78.3 points per game during that stretch).
The team led by Greek legend Theo Papaloukas and coached by today’s San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach Ettore Messina was title holder in 06-07, but their back-to-back campaign was stopped in Euroleague’s Final by Panathinaikos, making CSKA the only team between these ‘Fab Five’ to not have win their competition despite their record-streak.
BEST WINNING STREAK TO OPEN A SEASON
Real Madrid (Spain) – October 2013 to April 2014
It is often said that achieving an impressive winning streak to open a season means a lock on winning the title during the same season.
That was not the case for Real Madrid during the 2013-14, able to tally a 27-games winning streak to open the 2013-14 ACB season, not counting also their February triumph in Copa del Rey.
Even when Valencia put an end to the 27-games streak, few people thought that this Real was going to lose it all.
Real was dominating that season with both good offense and great defense: 87.5 PPG with an average win margin of 17.3 points per game.
But at the end it all went wrong for Pablo Laso’s team, which lost both Euroleague Final in overtime and Liga ACB title to Barcelona in 5 games.
Montepaschi Siena (Italy) – October 2008 to February 2009
Montepaschi Siena was, without a doubt, the dominatrix of Italian Basketball League in the last 15 years. Their badending shouldn’t overshadow their impressive run of 7 consecutive Italian League Championships.
They probably reached their peak during the 2008/09 season, after reaching the Euroleague Final Four the season before.
Siena started that season with 19 consecutive wins, an Italian Basketball record in the modern era. Their average are similar to Real’s one (90.9 PPG and 71.2 points allowed per game), but they later went on winning the title, being the streak-ending loss to Fortitudo Bologna in February 2009 Montepaschi’s lone lost game during their Italian League campaign that season.
Kentucky Wildcats (NCAA) – November 2014 to March 2015
Still in the minds of all Basketball Fans worldwide, Kentucky’s loss to Wisconsin during the last NCAA Basketball Final Four represented the end of the longest NCAA winning streak to start a season.
Calipari’s team, full of players who later were selected in the upcoming NBA Draft (between them the First overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns), started that year dreaming about the Perfect Season, something not been achieved since 1976 (Bobby Knight’s Indiana).
After a last-second win in the Elite 8 against Notre Dame, the Wildcats fell to the Wisconsin Badgers, led by Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, in a heart-breaking way and said goodbye to a possible 40-games win streak.
CSKA Moscow (Euroleague) – November 2004 to March 2005
The Russian powerhouse also detains the record for the greatest start in Euroleague history, having achieved an impressive 17-games winning streak to open their 2004-2005 Euroleague campaign.
However, their Top 16 loss to Barcelona was a sort of prelude to one of the greatest upset in Euroleague Basketball history: their Final Four Semifinal loss to Tau Ceramica Vitoria, which later lost that final to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Golden State Warriors (NBA) – October 2015 to December 2015
A lot has been written about the incredible Warriors’ winning streak, which smashed the previous record to start the season (15-0, detained by the Washington Capitols and the Houston Rockets).
While it seems like Golden State will never lose again, it’s interesting to observe how, between these 5 historical streaks, the Warriors detains the worst defense (100.2 ppg, 83.5 if we adjust it to 40 minutes), and their 14.9 ppg winning margin (12.4 adjusted to 40 minutes) is second-last only to 04-05 CSKA Moscow’s one.
OTHERS RELEVANT WINNING STREAKS
USA Olympic Men Team – August 1936 to September 1972
Between others relevant Basketball winning streaks, we surely have to count the USA Olympic Team winning streak: the Americans stayed unbeaten for the entire first seven Olympic Games edition, from Berlin 1936 to Mexico City 1968, as they entered the Munich 1972 games to make it eight in a row.
Between Team USA and their 67th consecutive Olympic Win there was the ‘traditional’ Final against the USSR Team.
Connecticut Huskies (Women) November 2008 to December 2010
2015 marks the 30th anniversary of a long Basketball relationship: the one between Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut Huskies Women Team.
The Italian-born Hall of Famer has led UConn to 10 NCAA titles in the last 20 years, and was also able to surpass, with his team, the historical NCAA Basketball Record, made by John Wooden’s UCLA in the 70s, with 90 consecutive wins between November 2008 and December 2010.
Aris Thessaloniki (Greece) 1985/86 to 1988/89
The late 1980s were a Golden Era for Greek Basketball, which put itself into the European Basketball Map by winning the Gold Medal at 1987 EuroBasket and coming close to a repeat two years later, winning the Silver Medal in 1989 EuroBasket.
That historical team was led by Aris Thessaloniki’s legends Nikos Galis and Panagiotis Giannakis, whom were also able to lead their club team to an incredible 80-games winning streak between the 1985-86 and 1988-89 seasons.
Tonight (12AM, GMT) Warriors’ streak will be challenged by the Indiana Pacers, one of the most intriguing teams to watch in the NBA right now.
Maybe they will made it to 23 (and 27 overall, eventually tying the 2012-13 Miami Heat for the second longest winning streak in NBA History), but are we sure that this Warriors streak is the most impressive in Basketball History?
Disclaimer: il pezzo che leggerete è stato scritto da me l’11 giugno scorso, immaginando un’intervista che avrei potuto fare (ma non ho fatto) al grande Alcides Ghiggia. Il quale se ne è andato lo scorso 16 luglio, a 89 anni, dopo una vita meravigliosa. Interpretatelo, se volete, come un omaggio postumo.
Spesso l’uomo impiega del tempo (tanto, troppo) nel trovare la sua casa.
Per casa non intendo il luogo natio, il cosiddetto hogar, ma quel posto dove si cresce, dove ci si completa.
Per trovare la propria casa spesso l’essere umano viaggia e si sposta di continuo, alla ricerca di un qualcosa di nuovo e “sicuro”. Nella ricerca della casa capita talvolta di imbattersi in personaggi leggendari e affascinanti, che stimolano in te un desiderio di scoperta, una curiositas, pari a quella del viaggio.
Per me, Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia è uno di quei personaggi.
Nella mia finora breve e minima carriera di giornalista ho avuto la fortuna e la capacità di intervistare ed incontrare figure rilevanti dello sport -e non solo sport- italiano ed internazionale, occasioni più o meno emozionanti in cui ho potuto raccontare lo sport e le loro carriere nel modo che ritengo più attraente: biograficamente. Penso che “l’intervista biografica”, all’interno del racconto sportivo, sia un metodo che consente a chi racconta e, soprattutto, a chi legge di capire e identificarsi davvero con l’intervistato, con la sua carriera e con i momenti cui, da appassionati sportivi, si è assistito.
Questa premessa mi è utile per introdurre l’intervista che tanto avrei voluto fare e che, probabilmente, non realizzerò mai.
Prima di iniziare è doveroso dire che Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia nasce il 22 dicembre di 89 anni fa a Montevideo, capitale di un paese che, ai tempi, andava affermandosi come uno dei più industrializzati e democratici della sua regione: prossimo a festeggiare il Centenario dell’indipendenza, l’Uruguay del 1926 stava vivendo gli influssi benefici del Battlismo dal punto di vista economico e industriale, era un paese completamente laico e, anche tramite il calcio, riusciva a porsi sul mappamondo attirando l’attenzione dei paesi europei (ad esempio il Regno Unito, col quale vi erano frequenti relazioni commerciali) e nordamericani.
La carriera di Alcides Ghiggia nasce come ala destra, ruolo in cui poteva sfruttare al meglio le sue doti fisiche e il suo gioco sviluppato por las calles (parliamo di un giocatore che aveva la fisionomia di un Messi), ma, a differenza di quelli che saranno i suoi compagni del ’50, non nasce calcisticamente nel Nacional o nel Peñarol, ma nella IASA, Institucion Atletica Sud America, una delle tante squadre dei quartieri “periferici” di Montevideo ma una delle poche che oggi non gioca nella capitale, ma nella vicina San Jose. Dalla IASA va al Progreso, dove esordisce in Primera e comincia a mettersi in luce. In Uruguay se ti metti in mostra la chiamata di un “grande” non tarda mai ad arrivare: infatti nel 1948 firma con il Peñarol, dove farà conoscenza con una figura ricorrente della sua carriera e vita: Juan Alberto“Pepe” Schiaffino.
Già, Schiaffino. Come ha influito nella sua carriera, señor?
“Pepe” es simplemente un fenomeno. Quando arrivai al Peñarol lui era già un esempio per tutti, e si vedeva che era qualcosa di diverso dagli altri. Oggi il mondo elogia l’inventiva di un Pirlo o di un Iniesta, ma loro non sarebbero mai esistiti, in questi termini, senza Schiaffino. È incredibile pensare come la mia carriera, i miei successi ed i miei destini si incrocino così tanto con quelli del Pepe.
Il suo ‘recorrido’ nel Peñarol è stato segnato dalla “maquina del ’49”.
Senza quella squadra fantastica probabilmente non sarei mai andato a giocare il Mondiale l’anno dopo. Una squadra capace di vincere e segnare come quella poteva dire la sua anche a livello continentale, visto poi il risultato che abbiamo fatto con la Celeste l’anno dopo.
In quel Peñarol c’era, oltre a Schiaffino, Obdulio Varela.
Se Schiaffino è Il Regista, Obdulio è Il Capitano. Lo odiavi, lo odiava Pepe quando litigavano come cane e gatto, quando Varela disse che fu Schiaffino a dire “se ce ne fanno 3 va bene” prima della finale col Brasile, dentro di noi sapevamo benissimo che non erano le parole di Juan Alberto. Uno può pensare “que pelotudo” uno che rischia di mettere zizzania nello spogliatoio. Ma tutti noi sapevamo bene che era un modo per motivarci. C’erano 200 mila persone. Tranne 30-40, erano tutti brasiliani. Erano tutti che si aspettavano una vittoria dei padroni di casa.
Come si affronta una partita così?
Eravamo concentrati, tranquilli ma allo stesso tempo vogliosi. Sapevamo che il Brasile tende ad attaccarti da subito, infatti giocammo per finire 0-0 il primo tempo. Loro erano contratti, troppo contratti; alla fine giocando come sapevamo non fu impossibile riuscire ad arrivare pari all’intervallo.
Dopo l’intervallo però Friaça batté Maspoli. Per tutti ormai sembrava finita. Ma non per noi.
Qui ritorna, ancora una volta, il suo legame con Schiaffino.
All’intervallo avevamo pensato ai possibili modi per scardinare la difesa brasiliana. Pepe non giocò un gran primo tempo, ma sapevo che si sarebbe fatto trovare pronto. Al 24° me ne andai sulla destra e crossai indietro. Arrivò proprio Pepe, che tirò forte e angolato. Gol!
1-1, il risultato però andava comunque bene al Brasile.
Sì, ma non si sarebbero mai accontentati di pareggiare. E allo stesso tempo vedemmo che vincere era davvero possibile. Prendemmo coraggio, e dieci minuti dopo arrivò il mio gol.
Il gol del secolo.
Andavo in contropiede sulla destra, la stessa posizione da dove crossai per il gol del pareggio. Ero tanto veloce che Bigode non riuscì a fermarmi. Allo stesso tempo Juvenal era in ritardo con l’aiuto. Entrai in area e calciai forte rasoterra sul primo palo. Barbosa si tuffò quando la palla era ormai già dentro.
Cosa ricorda del post partita?
Ero felice perché avevamo vinto il Mondiale, ovvio. Ci abbracciammo tutti, increduli ed entusiasti. Avevo pure segnato il gol decisivo, cosa potevo chiedere di più? Ma tutto attorno a noi era surreale. La gente piangeva, si disperava, dopo scoprimmo anche che alcuni si uccisero. Persino la premiazione avvenne in fretta e furia, e fummo costretti a “scappare” in spogliatoio, in albergo e poi a casa. Proprio dopo la partita mi colpirono alla gamba e mi infortunai. Ma non porto rancore: negli anni successivi, ogni volta che sono tornato in Brasile, sono sempre stato accolto abbastanza bene.
Che effetto le fa l’essere riconosciuto per strada ancora oggi, 65 anni dopo?
Incontro tanta gente della mia età, tanti veterani insieme ai loro nipoti, che magari vestono la maglia della Celeste, il 9 di Suarez o il 7 di Cavani. Mi chiedono una foto con loro, una foto con i nipoti, gli spiegano loro chi sono. Lo sguardo dei bambini è incredibile: tutti in Uruguay conoscono il mio gol a memoria, alcuni mi chiamano “leggenda”. Dopo tutti questi anni, è un qualcosa che mi inorgoglisce e mi commuove. Si ricordano ancora di me!
Si ricordarono di Alcides Ghiggia anche quando, terminato il ciclo con il Peñarol, seguì l’amico Pepe Schiaffino in Italia. Nel nostro Paese Ghiggia gioca 8 anni con la Roma, della quale fu anche capitano e, insieme proprio alPepe, conquistò la Coppa delle Fiere 60-61, dopo la quale si trasferì al Milan, dove contribuì alla conquista dell’ottavo scudetto, insieme ad un giovane Gianni Rivera.
Si ricordarono di Alcides Ghiggia anche al Peñarol, che allenerà per un breve periodo nel 1980 (dopo essere tornato a “casa” e aver disputato l’ultima stagione della carriera con il Danubio).
Si ricordarono di Alcides Ghiggia anche i brasiliani, quando nel 2009 lo invitarono a poggiare la sua impronta nellaWalk of Fame del Maracanà. Accanto a quelle di Pelé, Beckenbauer ed Eusebio. Il nostro si commosse: mai si sarebbe aspettato un tale riconoscimento da parte di chi ha pianto un suo gol.
Si ricordarono di Alcides Ghiggia quando, nel 2012, un camion travolse la sua auto e lo portò ad un passo dalla morte.
Ghiggia si salvò “per miracolo”, o più semplicemente perché non poteva morire senza aver gritado il suo gol più famoso, il suo gol più celebre, il gol que nunca se gritò.
Fino al 21 novembre del 2013. Prima del playoff di ritorno tra Uruguay e Giordania, valido per la qualificazione a Brasile 2014, 65 mila persone gritaron il gol di Alcides Ghiggia.
Quel 21 novembre tra i 65 mila del Centenario c’ero anche io. Anch’io ho gritado el gol que nunca se gritò.
Non ho intervistato Ghiggia, al massimo ci ho scambiato due parole al telefono. Probabilmente non lo intervisterò mai.
Sembrerà retorica, ma il gol di Ghiggia è davvero il simbolo di un paese. È un qualcosa che trascende le generazioni, che attraversa il mondo e segna la cultura.
È stato d’ispirazione per canzoni, libri, film.
È capace di far venire la pelle d’oca a più di tre milioni di anime ad ogni singola visione. Ci riesce anche con me.
Ogni singolo giocatore che veste la Celeste sueña con quel gol. Sogna di ripetere un gol irripetibile, di riportare sul tetto del mondo un paese che si appresta a difendere la sua quindicesima Copa America (record continentale, più dell’Argentina, più del Brasile).
If today’s team sports are often dominated by athleticism and speediness, that is certainly true for Basketball. For this reason it is not so common to find a 40 year old player still fighting in the Italian top-league, one of the top in European basketball.
Gianluca Basile was born in 1975 in Ruvo di Puglia, a small town in Italy’s deep south, and this year marks his 20thseason as a professional basketball player.
“In my first years basketball was less physical and more technical. The only main difference between then and now is that today’s game is more athletic and less technical, but my motivations are intact: I simply still enjoying playing this sport.”
His long journey in the basketball world started in 1995, when as a relatively unknown young player he travelled from his hometown Ruvo di Puglia to Reggio Emilia, to play for Pallacanestro Reggiana, nowadays one of the main Italian teams.
“My first memory of those years was the long train trip to reach Reggio. A endless journey spent on carriage’s corridor, it was terrible”, Basile says, “I finally arrived on a Sunday morning, and I was supposed to be picked up at the station by Max Menetti (at that time a Youth Team Assistant Coach,today’s Reggio Emilia Main Team Head Coach), but no one was there. I had to wait for Max for over an hour!”
If usually you can see from the start how things will turn out, that was not the case for Basile’s experience in Reggio: in three and a half seasons he averaged over 10 points per game, revealing himself as a ‘star in-the-making’.
The next stop was Bologna, where he played for Fortitudo, one of the biggest Italian teams at that time. Basile spent six and a half seasons there, bringing Fortitudo to its first two Italian Championships (2000 and 2005), and emerging as an elite-player (Italian League MVP in 2004). Basile remarks Bologna as a “wonderful city and team”; those years coincided also with his golden years with the Italian National Team, bronze medallist in 2003 European Championships and runner-up in 2004 Olympics, where Basile was Italian leading scorer and one of the Tournament’s best players. His highlight with Italian NT was the 2004 Olympic Semi-final, won by Italy thanks to Basile’s 31 points:
“I consider that game against Lithuania as the best game in my career because the stakes were really high. I am not a guy constantly in search of memories; I rarely look behind to what I have done in the past. But as immediately I hear Italian national anthem, my ‘azzurri’ memories comes to light: I am very proud of what I did with the National Team”.
Third step of Basile’s career was Barcelona, where he won seven domestic trophies and, in 2010, the Euroleague, the main European basketball competition for clubs. Spain was truly his peak, not only as a talented player but also as a man: “Barcelona was unforgettable too, but my sweetest memory is a non-basketball one: the birth of my daughter, Federica”. After six seasons in Spain, Basile came back to Italy, playing for Bennet Cantù “It was my ‘big’ return, both to Italy and from a year away for an injury” and Emporio Armani Milano “An experience that I was right to do”.
At 38 year old and with countless memories Basile, instead of retiring, decided to make a sort of return to his origin, signing for Italian second league team Capo d’Orlando:
“I felt it that way, as a return with an enriched luggage. Here in ‘Capo’ I found a healthy and familiar atmosphere, and I rediscovered what it means to play just for the love for the game. In the big teams you often don’t find that chemistry that is crucial in order to succeed. In Capo d’Orlando everyone treats me like a God, I can rely on everyone for everything.”
Last summer Basile decided to return for a 20th season, which it will probably be the last of his distinguishedcareer:
“When I started playing, I would never have thought about having such a career, but I was hoping to. It was my childhood dream.”
On his free time from basketball, Basile enjoys some fishing (sometimes he takes his teammates), an activity that could be part of his life after basketball:
“I still haven’t thought about what’s coming up in my future but you never know. Perhaps the sea could be my tomorrow…!”
I want to begin this piece with an assumption: I’m an Andrea Bargnani fan.
Since his Treviso days he’s always been one of my favorite players.
It is for this reason that I’ve never tolerated people’s habit to over-hyped him through all this years.
2015/16 marks ‘il Mago’ tenth NBA season, and I need to ask myself whether believing in Andrea Bargnani today is like believing in Santa Claus.
On June 28, 2006, Andrea Bargnani made history, turning into the first European Player (and second International, after Yao Ming) to be selected as the first overall pick in a NBA Draft.
After having had only the 8.8% of chances to obtain the first pick, the Toronto Raptors decided to bet on who, at the time, was considered an “Italian Dirk Nowitzki”, dreaming to create a unique tandem with their franchise player, Chris Bosh.
It is quite safe to assume that Bargnani’s ‘rookie contract’ seasons are probably his best one in the NBA so far, and they will likely continuing to be.
At those time, after a very good fourth season (17.2 ppg with career high 6.2 rpg and 47% FG), lots of people were rumoring whether Bargnani would have performed better as a ‘Franchise Player’ instead of being a ‘2nd option’.
But has Bargnani really been a better player, for the Toronto Raptors, without the ‘bulky’ presence of Chris Bosh?
Between the 433 NBA games played by Andrea Bargnani with the only canadian team in the National Basketball Association, 170 of those have been without Chris Bosh on the court, less than the 40%.
In those games some main stats are slightly better, like points per game (13.8 to 17.4), personal fouls (2.9 to 2.1) and free throws (81.9% to 83.1%, shooting 1.5 more free throws per game without Bosh on the court).
What should worry the ‘Bargnani is better without Bosh’ representatives are his shooting percentage (44.8% with Bosh, 42.4 without him), particularly his 3-point range shooting (38.9% to 31.4% with almost the same number of attempts, 3.8 vs 3.6), and some of his ‘advanced stats’: if Bargnani’s overall defensive rating is almost the same with or without Bosh (111.3 vs. 112.2), his offensive rating shows a significant drop when he is not playing with the former Georgia Tech alumn (104 vs. 99.9).
Raptors’ Bargnani, surely the best one seen in the NBA so far, was definitely a better player alongside someone like Bosh, able to use his offensive assets in the best possible way for the team, and capable to hide partially some of his gaps, like his allergy to rebounds (in the four season with Bosh, Bargnani had a TRB% of 9.8; without him, a 8.7).
After 7 years in Canada and with 2 years remaining on his first long contract, il Mago was finally traded to the New York Knicks, in exchange for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson and, above all, three draft picks, one of which being the Knicks 2016 1st round unprotected pick, particularly valuable if New York would not qualify for the next Playoffs.
Bargnani arrived to the Knicks after having played only a combined 66 games in the previous two season and he was one of the last operations made by GM Glen Grunwald before being fired by Knicks’ owner James Dolan.
Andrea’s start in New York was slow (8.8 ppg in his first 4 games as a Knicks’ player), but his Knicks’ career high (25 points vs Charlotte) meant the start of a 13 game streak with at least 10 points scored, averaging 17.4 points and 6.3 rebounds during that stretch.
This effort was a losing one: Knicks started the season with a 3-13 record, improving only to 15-27 on game 42, the last one played by Bargnani in his first season as a Knicks.
Knicks’ record that season without Bargnani was a decent 22-18, but they were unable to clinch the last playoff spot, falling behind the Atlanta Hawks for only one game.
Bargnani’s 42nd (and last for his first season) game as a Knicks was a 20-point losing effort at MSG against the Philadelphia 76ers, and the end was as incredible as anyone could possibly have ever imagined.
2013-14 represented Bargnani’s tied career high for Total Rebound percentage with a miser 10.4.
To put that in context, that season the following players had a better TRB%.
Kawhi Leonard (12.1%)
Lance Stephenson (11.4%)
Luigi Datome (10.6%)
And many (many) others.
In fact, Bargnani was the last player listed as Center for TRB% with at least 30 games played.
And we’re talking about his career high TRB%.
After his three ‘Franchise Player’ season in Toronto, lots of AB fan welcomed the opportunity to play with a star like Carmelo Anthony, capable of relieving Bargnani from main offensive duties, and an NBA Champion center in Tyson Chandler, possibly able to mask Bargnani’s rebounding deficits.
Well, with both Bargnani and Anthony on the court that season the Knicks shot the basketball many more times than their opponents (7.1 more FGA) but also worse (-3.8% in eFG).
With both Bargnani and Chandler on the court that season, New York had a 3.5 worst TRB% than their opponents, being outscored at the same time by 18.3 points.
Second Knicks season for Bargnani started on New Years Eve, with a 9 point game in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, and it went on a worse way than the first one.
Despite a slight improvement in shooting percentages, last season for Bargnani meant the continuation of an unstoppable decline, which now seems to represent the largest part of his NBA career.
His decline is also acknowledged by the rest of the NBA.
On his first season in New York he averaged an eFG% of 46.8% on open shots (closest defender between 4 and 6 feet) and a 53.9% on wide open shots (more than 6 feet).
Both type of shots represented, respectively, the 28% and the 29% of Bargnani’s total FG.
The following year (last season), Bargnani had a 45.8% eFG on open shots (29.4%) and a 51.9% (22.2%) on wide open shots.
After looking at his good performances on EuroBasket 2015, I was really looking for Bargnani’s 10th NBA season, the first one with the Brooklyn Nets, in a role in some ways easier and devoid of most expectations that have accompanied him for his first nine NBA seasons.
This season, the first with the Brooklyn Nets, Bargnani is averaging a slightly better 48.5% eFG% on open shots (which counts as a 33% of his total attempts), but an horrible 42.2% on wide open shots (31% of his FG).
Putting that in context, if Stephen Curry is incomparable with an unreal 74.4% eFG%, even someone like Spencer Hawes, who’s playing an awful NBA season for the Charlotte Hornets, has a better eFG% on wide open shots (48.1%) than Bargnani’s percentage.
What is more shocking is looking how this ‘open shots’ counts in his overall FG attempts: they are constantly the majority of Bargnani’s attempts, shots left open by the defenses, whom bet (and win) on his inability to convert them at a decent percentage.
Andrea Bargnani has always been appreciated for his offensive skills.
His rebounding (he’s averaging 6.5 rebounds per 100 possession, a career-low) and defensive (between players with a career def rtg higher than 110, he’s second in NBA history for personal foul per game with 2.5) gaps have always been a problem, but in his best days he was able to hide them with his unique offensive skills.
How to deal with the fact that even his offensive skills are deteriorating and he’s on his way to join the shameful elite of NBA worst players?
His contract with the Nets has a player option for the next year at the veterans minimum, and it’s still unclear if Bargnani will exercise that option and prolong his NBA career.
But, at this point, would it still make sense to prolong this agony?