Even after they partied until dawn with family and friends in Paris on Monday, the new Euroleague champions from Regal FC Barcelona arrived home later in the day with plenty of celebrating left in them. The first stop was their home court, Palau Blaugrana, where thousands welcomed the Euroleague trophy that the team had waited since 2003 to see hoisted again above the shoulders of their heroes. The majority of Barcelona's loyal fans could not make it to Paris, and so after a season's worth of their support, this night was for them.
While the flight of the champs touched down, the extra luggage in the form of trophies was collected and the team bus made its way from the airport, the Barcelona fans were entertained by acclaimed musical performers from the area and by the team cheerleaders. But these fans hardly needed cheering up: they were already over the moon from their team's triumphant march through Paris over the weekend, ending with a no-doubt-about-it 86-68 victory in Sunday's final against Olympiacos.
Then came the moment they were all waiting for: just like before a game, all 12 players and the coaching staff of Barcelona were introduced one by one, entering under a spotlight to centercourt of the now-darkened arena. Each received a much-deserved ovation for his contribution to what was a true team effort all season long, ending with an exquisite example of the same in the title game.
If the music played "Simply the Best" for all the other players, when team captain Roger Grimau and head coach Xavi Pascual made their way to centerourt with the trophy, it was replaced by the now-traditional victory cry of "We are the Champions". They lifted the cup together to thunderous applause from the fans, then each player took a turn addressing the crowd. Finally, many fans were able to shake hands with the players and also to touch the Euroleague trophy as the team took it on victory lap along the grandstand.