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50 YEARS CELEBRATION IN MADRID, SPAIN
Most successful club ever takes a bow
The 50 Years of European Club Basketball celebration has arrived in Madrid on Thursday, March 13, to honor the winningest team in continental history. A press conference already took place in Santiago Bernabeu stadium this afternoon featuring Madrid president Ramon Calderon, legends Emiliano Rodriguez and Pedro Ferrandiz, as well as Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu. Real Madrid has lifted eight European Cup trophies and set a standard for competitiveness, winning mentality and sportsmanship that is still valid these days. Founded in 1932 as a section of the most famous football club in the world, countless European basketball legends have played for Madrid, taking the club to bigger heights than any other in European basketball. The Real Madrid team that won it all in the mid-1960s and is still considered one of the best in European basketball history. Under head coaches Joaquin Hernandez and Ferrandiz, a list of greats like Rodriguez, Carlos Sevillano, Clifford Luyk, Lolo Sainz and Miles Aiken broke the Soviet Union hegemony in European basketball by winning four continental crowns in five seasons: 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968. Madrid kept dominating its domestic competitions and soon added players like Wayne Brabender, Vicente Ramos and Walter Szczerbiak, who joined forces with homegrown talents Rafa Rullan and Juan Antonio Corbalan to become European Cup champions once again in 1974. Its rivalry with Varese was unbelievable, with both teams facing each other in every European Cup final from 1974 to 1978. Varese won the championship in 1975 and 1976 but Madrid took revenge in 1978 with Szczerbiak, Corbalan, Rullan and an inspired Carmelo Cabrera as stars. Madrid clinched its seventh European Cup title in 1980, beating Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv in the title game behind an unstoppable Rullan. Madrid found success in other European competitions, too, winning a Saporta Cup title in 1984 and lifting the Korac Cup trophy in 1988. The great Drazen Petrovic joined the team in summer 1988 and immediately delivered by famously scoring 62 points to win the 1989 Saporta Cup title against Oscar Schmidt's Snaidero Caserta. Another European all-time great, Arvydas Sabonis, helped Madrid to win its last European Cup title in 1995. A Saporta Cup trophy in 1997 led by Alberto Herreros and Dejan Bodiroga and a recent ULEB Cup title last season featured national world champions Felipe Reyes and Alex Mumbru complete an unmatched roll of honours that also includes 30 Spanish League, 22 Spanish Cups and three Intercontinental Cup titles. Real Madrid is, indeed, the club of champions. "Real Madrid has a decisive role due to its eight European Cup titles. No other team has contributed more to the greatness of European basketball," Bertomau said in the press conference. "Real Madrid always has a commitment with basketball."
REAL MADRID CHAMPS
1964, 1965, 1967, 1968,
50 Years Celebrations in Madrid
50 Years Interview: Lolo Sainz
Real Madrid, story of a legend
INTERVIEW: WALTER SZCZERBIAK
"The reputation that Madrid had those days gave it absolute respect worldwide"
As a big part of the winningest tradition in European club basketball, Walter Szczerbiak put his name high on the list of the best scorers ever to make their mark on the old continent. In his seven seasons with Real Madrid, Szczerbiak helped the team to win European Cup titles in 1974, 1978 and 1980, as well as to reach two other finals, in 1975 and 1976.
"Players were gentlemen, known for their great sportsmanship and were famous for being great competitors. It was an honor, too, because Real Madrid had everyone's respect, no matter if you went to Israel, Argentina or anywhere. I am proud to have been a member of that family."