The teaching of the Greats
Only a few days have passed since the magical night of the 18th of September, when we won our second European championship, and they have been very intense ones, starting from Monday's celebration and farewell to the team, both very emotional moments, to the trip to Istanbul on Wednesday to participate in the meeting of Euroleague's coaches and executive referees, to taking charge of Emporio Armani Olimpia Milano, my new professional challenge.
They have been quite busy days, with some time spent thanking the many who showed me their approval, esteem and affection: friends, fans, people from the basketball world: to all of them goes my great appreciation. Despite of being so busy, there have been moments when nostalgia has also kicked in, the moments when I looked at some pictures, listened to a voice or simply put away some team uniforms, some notes, some folders, ready for when it will be again time to bring them back to life.
My heartfelt thanks to Jose Luis Saez and the Spanish Basketball Federation, to Angel Palmi and all the executives, for the trust always shown, in good times and bad times.
Thank you especially because this experience with the national team, and the opportunity to realise that I enjoyed the respect, consideration, esteem of a group of players of the highest level, not only for their talent but also for their knowledge of the game and of the human behaviour, represents for me an important boost in confidence, security and a great motivation to keep doing my best and continue to improve as a coach and as a person.
Having such an absolute commitment, with such a discipline, dedication and desire to follow a path of teamwork and sacrifice, despite their wealth of talent, has been a joy for me, both professionally and personally.
To say that everything went as we expected would be stupid: that never happens! But it would be a lie to say that we had to make major adjustments to the roadmap we set before the beginning of the preparation. We have always sailed fast, very soon reaching a cruising speed, and reaching an enviable technical, physical and mental form on schedule (or better, in the moment of truth: the quarterfinals, semifinals and final).
We have overcome great opponents, we have won the European championship with the highest quality level of participants in recent years (what was said before the event has been confirmed). We avoided some obstacles which appeared on our road and, with the eye set on our goal, we have managed to brilliantly direct our efforts and reached our goals, considering that nobody in the last 15-20 years won a final by scoring 98 points while at the same time showing such a high defensive intensity.
From day one we knew where we wanted to arrive, but also from day one we kept that picture in a drawer, focusing with professionalism, seriousness and great joy as well in our daily tasks: a training, a friendly match, a day off, a meeting or an official game.
Today we have admired all the generosity in victory of these great champions: the selflessness with which Pau Gasol left the spotlight to Juan Carlos Navarro in the last games, and the sincerity with which he congratulated Juan Carlos for winning the MVP award, something Pau is used to win every time; the generosity with which Juan Carlos, with a personal decision but well interpreting the feelings of all of us, wanted Felipe Reyes to go out and receive the European cup, but if I could give you a recommendation and advice, to all children, kids, athletes, even to experienced professionals, I would recommend to observe how this team has behaved in defeat last year.
To know how to win is not as easy as it sounds, but it is certainly far easier than knowing how to lose: only few, the very great, know how to lose without blame, without pointing fingers, without losing confidence in teammates or in the chosen technical and working path.
In sport as well as in life, one can fall but needs to get up: this is the biggest lesson that these players have given.
I hope that those of us more attentive, those open to understanding feelings, behaviours and to how the greats show us the way, have noticed it.