FAREWELL OF THE CZECH BASKETBALL LEGENDS
This past weekend I was a part of the unique basketball event in Czech Republic that celebrated careers of two top players of their generation, Jiri Welsch and Lubos Barton, who happens to be also my husband. Both players were born in 1980 and their careers ended last year, respectively three years ago in Lubos’ case. Welsch played many years in NBA and had a good career in Europe. Barton played college ball for 4 years before returning to Europe to win many titles. They both played for the senior national team since very early age (1997) and finished almost twenty years later. Therefore, Czech basketball federation tried to give these two one more chance to showcase their fans their skills and also their character.
The weekend started on Friday; little golf tournament was held near Prague in one of the top golf courses in Czech Republic. Many famous and important people were present, but it never took away a spotlight from both players. Only Welsch played golf, Barton was more of a spectator.
At night, team dinner followed up, in a close circle of around twenty people, many people knew each other, some made new friendships, just like always happens on such occasions. After dinner, little bit of night life was in order but must for few drinks (wink). Gotta keep it professional because next day, the main event was going to be held in near town, Pardubice. Not every player gets a chance to have a farewell exhibition game, in front of their families, friends and fans. Not everyone can choose his teammates for the last game. It was very clear that this event is going to be a lot more than a basketball match. Players (both teams featured many very good ex-players, from all around the world) were relaxed and they were having good time, the atmosphere around was being contagious by it. The event took place in an ice hockey arena in Pardubice, but its size was perfect for such occasion.
Other thing that is very important for any exhibition are the people behind the scenes, who make possible many different things around the event. I am talking about logos, presentations, sponsors, TV, special effects, merchandising, charity, TV and media coverage. Just so many things normal person would have never thought about. And they did a very good job.
During the game, there were many media timeouts, games between the two, some funny and awkward moments, bringing them closer to the fans. There were video messages from important people that couldn’t make the event, on a big box screen, players like Ricky Rubio, Gianluca Basile, or coaches like Aito Garcia Reneses or Sergio Scariolo.
Three minutes to go, the game was stopped, and both players got their time with a microphone in hand. They took this opportunity to thank their families, wives and friends for support, thanking everyone who was involved in the event, trying not to forget somebody.
I could tell that there were lots of emotions going on, but definitely the positive ones, knowing that this was it and they were saying their last goodbye to the game that gave them so much. And they were doing it together and with their families present.
Symbolically, my husband made a game tying three point shot 5 seconds to go, and Welsch instead of trying to win the game with the last shot, put the ball down on the floor and hugged Lubos.
It was almost like from some Hollywood movie. What a way to finish their careers!!!