The current Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season is the 20th in a row being organized under the ownership of the competition's clubs and the management of Euroleague Basketball.
To honor that milestone, Euroleague Basketball is preparing a season-long celebration of the history of the first club-owned team sports model in European sports, one that has evolved to make sure that fans can see all the best teams on the continent play each other each and every season.
The commemoration will include a special podcast series with champions from along the two decades, as well as special social media content like exclusive videos, graphics and more under the hashtag #EuroLeague20. Fans will get their chance to participate, as well, by helping to select the second all-decade team of those 20 years.
On October 16, 2000, the first game of these 20 seasons saw Real Madrid and Olympiacos Piraeus tip off the new era at Raimundo Saporta Pavillion in the Spanish capital. Once the ball went up for the opening tip, there was no way back, and European club basketball started a golden era, growing in each and every sense of the world.
"We would like to invite all basketball fans to join us in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the EuroLeague. The fans have always been central to our mission, every step of the way, and therefore this celebration is theirs," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, said. "We feel very satisfied to witness how the EuroLeague – a vision that our clubs had in 2000 – has become a solid reality, has positioned itself within the top sports properties in the world, and has become one of the main references for all basketball and sports fans worldwide."
Back in the fall of 2000, the legendary Dino Radja of Olympiacos etched his name in the history of the new EuroLeague by becoming being the first player to score a basket, just 20 seconds into the game. He shared the court with illustrious names like his teammates David Rivers and Milan Tomic, the current head coach of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, as well as Real players Sasa Djordjevic, Alberto Herreros and Jiri Zidek, who were coached that night by current World Cup and NBA champion Sergio Scariolo.
Two current players who performed in that opening week of 2000, Felipe Reyes and Luis Scola, and are now with Real and AX Armani Exchange Milan, respectively. Their staying power has very much been a reflection of the competition itself.
There was history in the air in 2000, and it was summed up by a legend at courtside on that historic first night, the late basketball legend Mirza Delibasic, who said:
"The basketball future belongs to this league."
As countless fans around the world now enjoy the EuroLeague playing more and more games every season, his words ring true both now and looking forward into an even better basketball future.