By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
Dino Meneghin was already a legend when he arrived in Milan in the summer of 1980. Already a 30-year-old player at the time, he signed for two seasons, and he was expected to retire.
He ended up playing for 14 more years and a full decade for Olimpia Milan, which honored him yesterday by retiring the jersey with number 11. He won five more Italian championship titles and two EuroLeague titles wearing red, after leaving another Italian basketball dynasty, Varese, with which he played from 1966 until 1980, winning five more EuroLeague titles, three intercontinental championship titles and seven Italian championship titles.
Meneghin was just ahead of his time, the second European player who was drafted in the NBA, back in 1970. He never played in the States, but his career is the stuff that dreams are made of.
It all came full circle last night, with every big name of Italian basketball being present to pay homage to a giant. Among them names like Dan Peterson, Gregor Fucka, Antonello Riva, Meo Sacchetti, Roberto Brunamonti, and Pierluigi Marzorati, mythical figures all of them of Italian basketball pantheon. His former teammate, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’ Antoni, sent a video message, and his son and former player Andrea Meneghin was on his side.
Varese, Trieste, and the National team have been united in one big embrace. Meneghin thanked everyone, wanted everyone there, and let everyone know that they helped him achieved this status.
“Without you, I wouldn’t be here to talk,” he said, and it was the same words spoken by Mike D’Antoni four years ago when his jersey was retired. “I didn’t like giving up the number 11, which I had for 14 years in the NBA, but then I’ve never been so proud than to see it on your back,” said via video NBA legend Bob McAdoo, also a teammate of Meneghin in Milan. And that sums it all up.
Photo credit: Olimpia Milan