Everything seems like a dream. One of those movies that one imagines with a happy ending.
I know you didn’t learn to play because when you were two years old I put the chairs in the kitchen for you to zig-zag… I also know that the Euro Step didn’t come from there… I know that your throwing parabola didn’t change for the glove that I brought from the United States so that you wouldn’t support your left palm… And I also know that it wasn’t transcendent to make you debut professionally and in the League. That was somewhat circumstantial since, as happened with your brothers or Pancho Jasen, they coincided in starting their league path with me.
On your own merits, you came to play at high levels, at the best, with and against the best. But this recognition surpassed all kinds of dreams that you aspired to as a child, in your room with the Jordan poster or in that kitchen, measuring your height every day in the refrigerator. Your obsession was, along with your restless and rebellious character, from your very childhood.
I remember every trip of mine to the United States, on whose return I brought you the famous tubular socks or you asked me for something from Golden State, your favorite team. Look what a coincidence!
The day after tomorrow, and on your night, they also distinguish one of those monsters of the ’90s, Tim Hardaway, a legitimate and emblematic Warrior. The turns of life will lead to your admired Mr. Crossover, one of your greatest inspirations in your sports career, being admitted to the Temple of Basketball on the same night as you. Incredible!
I, you know how I am, I still can’t believe all this. It’s crazy that for your parents it’s something natural, as much as for you. But to me, from the heart, it still doesn’t close me…
I still don’t understand some things, apart from the fact that YOU WERE ALWAYS AT THE RIGHT TIME AND IN THE RIGHT PLACES, with tremendous coaches like the great Ettore (Messina) and the POP master (Greg Popovich) who gave you all the fundamentals, wonderful concepts for your game that They made you shine
On the flight I thought: “How can it be that everything has been given to you, and from minor to major, going through different levels and with totally logical steps and won in each competition where you stayed?”
You stood out as the best rookie in the 95/96 League; then you were unstoppable in Bahia; then you were the best in Italy, then in Europe and you ended up winning four rings in the NBA. And on top of this! What madness, God!
Your tour was so wonderful, that you left a mark everywhere. And all your coaches loved you, since you appeared in ALL THE ITEMS of a technical sheet (the only ROBBERY that they did not make you appear, was that of that October 31, just on Halloween, when you recovered a BAT…).
You made every coach under your charge and every club you represented win with your competitiveness. You always thought the same way and, WITHOUT A MADE PHRASE, WITHOUT A VERSE: first the collective and then the individual. You are the ONLY one, BELIEVE ME, THAT I SAW ACT AND THINK LIKE THIS IN MY CAREER AS A BASKETBALL MAN.
You know that I lived with your family education, and even though you were not everything your mother wanted (you did not finish high school -at least by right-) YOU DID NOT RECEIPT AS AN ACCOUNTANT… You were rebellious and restless, always looking for clear, defined objectives . As you also did every year to improve your game in your shot or float, until building a crazy race.
Even more wonderful was that you were different without having an earring in your house, something that woman (your mother, Raquel) never allowed because of the plants…
Another surprising thing is that you have become a member of the Hall of Fame as a substitute… But an explanation is immediately found when remembering your demonstrations of happiness at the success of your team, regardless of whether you sometimes scored few points or directly, they didn’t even put you… Or the other way around, when it was your turn to be the highlight of a game but your team lost, your sadness was reflected on your face and it was undisguisable. Even in that you differed from the rest.
You were incredible, a chosen one who added work and more work to his natural talent, to enhance the foundations of what you always had: FAMILY EDUCATION AND GREAT TRAINERS. What more could you want?
Honestly, you know that I’ve known you since you were born, but that doesn’t enable me to have everything clear with you: Shall I tell you? I still don’t know what was the most important thing in your game, YOUR MENTALITY OR ATHLETICS…
Let’s enjoy this, Emmanuel. More than deserved you have such a gala.
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Manu, you were always at the right time and place