Turkish Airlines Euroleague
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50 Years Ceremony
One of the highlights not only of the 2008 Euroleague Basketball Final Four, but perhaps in the history of European basketball took place on Friday evening at the Community of Madrid Sports Palace between the two semifinal games as 50 legends of the past 50 years of European club basketball were honored on center court.
The historic season-long celebration of 50 Years of European Club Basketball peaked as a sell-out crowd wildly cheered 38 of the most important personalities in the history of the game as they took the floor for a once-in-a-lifetime event. The honorees were welcomed to the floor one by one as photos and videos of their great pasts played on the arena screens in the background.
ULEB President Eduardo Portela and FIBA Secretary General Emeritus Boraslav Stankovic presented each of them with a replica of the basketballs used in the first season of the European Cup of Club Champions in 1958. The balls were emblazoned with each of the personalities’ names, honoring them for their special contributions to the game.
"The ceremony was lovely. I am very thankful that the Euroleague did this, it was really well-organized. I really felt like a part of European basketball history. I couldn't believe that I was in such a selected group of great players, coaches and referees. I really want to thank the Euroleague for organizing this ceremony, because it was just wonderful. This is definitely one of the highlights in my basketball career. I have won European Cups, finals, leagues but a lot of time players don't appreciate it while it happens. Now that you are retired, finished playing and the legs doesn't move like they used to, it is great to see all that group of people that are history in European basketball. This has been a really wonderful experience. Hopefully we can do it again some time, maybe in 50 years' time!"
"I liked the ceremony. It was short, without speeches and a lot of people up there. It was very special for us all, players, coaches and referees. It was a good moment because somebody still remembers us after so many years. I feel sorry for those players who were great and did not make it to the list, because even if they didn't win something special or important, they all are also part of history. We also have to speak about our managers, owners and bosses because without them, we wouldn't be here today. Joining so many basketball heroes on stage was special, a great feeling. Looking at all those players and being part of this makes me feel special. It showed that European basketball has always been quite strong. It was great to speak to all of them not only about basketball, but also about our lives."
"It was a really nice ceremony. It was great to be part of this, being one of the 50 players, coaches and referees that meant a lot to European basketball and also its development throughout the years. Everybody knows that European basketball means a lot in the world nowadays. It was really nice to ba a part of this and it meant a lot to me being up there with all these guys. I knew some of them, because they were players that were from my same generation. It was very nice to see people that played many years before and some of them that came after me. It is really cool to be here."
"I felt a little bit like a young kid after the ceremony. I was a little bit lost for some part of the warm-up and some part of the game because of the ceremony. I have no problem saying that. But to see so many heroes was something that really really made me like this. I felt like a kid at Disneyland seeing so many of my idols and having my family in the stands. It took away a little bit of my concentration."
Friday, May 02, 2008