By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, basketball throughout the world is progressing with big strides, but there was a time not so long ago – around 1999 in Munich – when you could bump into NBA commissioner David Stern at a hotel lobby and share a drink with him, after his annual joint press conference with FIBA.
The basketball world was small and familiar faces were all around. There was still a kind of semi-pro aura around everything which seems like a far cry in the modern Final Four era. How odd and bizzare things were and in some cases still are? Just read…
Pini’s long walks
Everyone loves a guy that never holds backs and speaks his mind out like Pini Gherson. And during the two year dominance of Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2004 and 2005 he was the star of the show, specially during the press conferences.
“I should be named Ghersonovic”, he taunted Ivkovic, Obradovic and Ivanovic during the Final Four of 2005 in Moscow, because he was the only not Serb coach present in the panel. Still his trademark was the fact that in Saturday’s final press conference, he walked from the hotel to the venue of the event, respecting the Jewish custom of the Sabbath which prevents him from driving or entering a car.
The incognito Pop
During the 2009 playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs were defeated in the first round by the Dallas Mavericks and it seems that coach Gregg Popovich – maybe – had the chance to enjoy the EuroLeague Final Four.
What can be confirmed is that during the Final Four, coach Pop traveled to Berlin and met with then player of Olympiacos, Giannis Bourousis, who was a candidate at the time to make the jump to the NBA. In fact Bourousis himself confirmed this in a television interview before last season’s Final Four. Oddly in a city full of basketball reporters, nobody had seen or recognized the coach of the Spurs, there’s no record of Popovich’s presence and he probably never entered the O2 Arena, at least not in a visible way.