Thursday was a night to remember at Stozice Arena in Ljubljana, Slovenia as many players and coaches who have been ruling the basketball floors for the last two decades or more gathered for an exhibition game to honor Sani Becirovic and Bostjan "Boki" Nachbar, both of whom said farewell to their outstanding playing careers.
The event, called Basketball Symphony, brought a dozen former Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions to the Slovenian capital. Team Sani and Team Boki featured the likes of nine-time EuroLeague winning coach Zeljko Obradovic of Fenerbahce Istanbul; Fragiskos Alvertis and Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos Athens, who share eight EuroLeague titles; four-time champ and current Zalgiris Kaunas head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius; three-time title winners Matjaz Smodis and Pero Antic; and two-time champ Nikola Vujcic of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. Among many others, there were more former EuroLeague stars and champs like Sasa Djordjevic, Rasho Nesterovic, Erazem Lorbek, Jaka Lakovic, Jure Zdovc and Igor Rakocevic, the only three-time Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner in EuroLeague history.
The real stars on this night, however, were the 37-year old Becirovic and 38-year old Nachbar. After wearing No. 7 jerseys for most of their respective careers, both exited their last basketball game with 7 seconds left in the contest. After being thrown in the air by their teammates, the two players were not the only ones with tears in their eyes.
Becirovic, a 2007 EuroLeague champion with Panathinaikos and 2002 runner-up with Kinder Bologna, played in 110 EuroLeague games over a span of eight seasons. During that time he scored a total of 1,295 points, for an average of 11.8 per game, with 287 assists and 283 rebounds. His 14 free throws in the 2002 semifinals are the most in any Final Four game since 1989, and his Kinder team defeated Nachbar's Benetton Treviso in that game. Becirovic was the co-leading scorer for Panathinaikos with 15 points in the team's 2007 semifinal victory over Tau Ceramica en route to the EuroLeague title. He was also the second-best scorer in the 2001 EuroLeague playoffs with 21 points per game as a teenager.
"Basketball symphony was simply amazing," Becirovic said afterward. "I said goodbye to basketball, which in my life gave me everything, including all these friends who were here today. It was a spectacular evening that we will remember forever."
Nachbar also played eight EuroLeague seasons, making a debut back in 2000. In 147 games he scored a total of 1,282 points, knocked down 139 three-pointers and pulled down 403 rebounds. Nachbar ranked second in scoring in the 2012-13 EuroLeague with 16.1 points per game while playing for Brose Baskets Bamberg. In his lone 7 DAYS EuroCup season, he was named to the 2008-09 All-Eurocup First Team.
"In my career, all of my dreams came true, and I finish in the best possible way -- at home in Slovenia," Nachbar said.
Appropriately, Team Boki and Team Sani were tied 100-100 in the closing minutes, and players decided it would be the best to end the game with that score.