FC Barcelona Lassa announced early Friday that Juan Carlos Navarro, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague's all-time leading scorer, had retired as a player after 20 years in the same uniform, but will remain a familiar sight to fans around Europe as he takes up a new role in the club's basketball section.
Many players who shared the locker room or just faced him over the years went on Twitter to show admiration and to congratulate Navarro on his unprecedented career. Real Madrid players, some of whom were also his long-time national team teammates, were among first to take it to Twitter.
Rudy Fernandez, national teammate and club opponent
“It's difficult to say goodbye to a player who has given everthing on the basketball court, for his club and Spanish basketball, the way he has. You have been, are and will be an inspiration for any player, as you were for me.”
Felipe Reyes, national teammate, club opponent
"Many years fighting together. On the national team and in 'los clásicos.' Sometimes rivals, sometimes teammates, but always friends. 'La Bomba' is going, but the legend remains. And all of world basketball knows it, Chonki."
Ricky Rubio, national and club teammate
"Talking today, my physical therapist said to me: 'I got hooked on basketball thanks to Juan Carlos Navarro.' And like him, so many. Magic. Talent. Pure spectacle. Exhibition after exhibition. Many thanks for making so many of us get hooked on this."
Nikola Mirotic, national teammate, club opponent
“Teammate or rival, but always an example”
Real Madrid head coach Pablo Laso
"A great one is retiring!!! All my respect."
Former teammates who shared the Barcelona locker room with Navarro on a daily basis were also full of praise.
Jordi Trias, longtime teammate
“The only player who has made be feel on the court that the impossible was possible has retired. Many of us players have to thank basketball for exisiting and for being able to dedicate ourselves to it. But your case is the opposite. It is basketball that should thank you for having been so great.”
Thomas Huertel teammate
“Although it has only been one year together, thanks for everything Juanqui. It's been an honor to be at your side on and off the court”.
Many other players who faced Navarro were full of praise. Fabein Causeur, who battled against him for years with Baskonia and Real Madrid wrote: “Thank you for those 21 incredible seasons. I feel very fortunate to have been able to enjoy your basketball, first by television and later for having been able compete against a legend. Basketball will miss you”.
Clubs from all over the continent took to Twitter to congratulate Navarro on his incredible career.
Andres Iniesta, former FC Barcelona football player
"A reference as a player and a person! It was a true thrill seeing you play basketball all these years. Thanks always, my friend!"