Final Four club legend: Elmer Bennett, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz

Apr 30, 2016 by Euroleague.net Print
Final Four club legend: Elmer Bennett, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz

When Elmer Bennett first arrived to Vitoria-Gasteiz in 1997, Tau Cermaica – as Laboral Kutxa was known then – was on the rise. By the end of his six seasons there, Tau had definitively joined the European elite. In that time, with Bennett as floor general, Tau won its first Spanish League title, lifted two Spanish national cups and came within one victory of winning the 2000-01 Euroleague title. Bennett was MVP of the 1999 Spanish King's Cup and of the 2002 Spanish League finals and waged a classic battle against Antoine Rigaudeau in the five-game Euroleague Finals series in 2001.

Bennett played parts of three seasons in the NBA and briefly in France and Greece before finding a home with Tau. He immediately stood out due to his high basketball IQ, which he used not only for scoring, but as an elite playmaker who led the Euroleague in assists twice, the Spanish League five times and the Saporta Cup, ULEB Cup and FIBA EuroCup once each during his 11 seasons with Tau, Real Madrid, Joventut Badalona and Cajasol Seville.

While some players are remembered for their ability on the court, Bennett’s status is elevated by the mark he left on his younger teammates. His mentorship of a young Jose Calderon at Tau and Ricky Rubio at Joventut is another reason he remains beloved in those cities years after he hung up his uniform. But he will always be remembered as the man with the ball in his hands, running the show and making his teammates better, when Laboral Kutxa Vitoria-Gasteiz burst into a new century to become a proven Euroleague power and has never looked back since.