The defeat of Spain at the hands of the United States in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics it means much more than elimination and being left out of the medal fight. It is the end of an era, the end of the golden generation of Spanish basketball. A team that achieved milestones that seemed impossible for our sport.
That generation has been led by Pau Gasol, who has already announced his goodbye to the national team. The Catalan pivot sacrificed himself to be able to be in his fifth Olympic Games and he succeeded, although unfortunately he will not be able to say goodbye with a medal. However, he leaves us his legacy, which transcends far beyond the merely sports, although his record with Spain is simply spectacular: a World Cup, two Olympic silver and one bronze medals and three Eurobasket, as well as another two silvers and two bronzes in continental championships.
Not counting the United States and under the leadership of the two-time NBA champion with the Lakers, Spain has been the great dominator of international basketball in recent years and it has embittered another great generation of players, the French.
Spain defeated the Gauls in the quarterfinals of the Eurobasket in 2009, in the final of 2011 and in the semifinals of 2015, in Pau Gasol’s best match with the national team jersey. The Catalan pivot gave an exhibition that day scoring 40 points against 27,000 French who supported their team in the stands of the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille.
GUIDE | The steps you have to follow in order to view a Twitter video that is not available due to your privacy preferences
Due to the continuous blows that his team has taken against Pau’s Spain, in France they have never had much sympathy for the golden generation of Spanish basketball. However, once its end has come, some fans from the neighboring country have ended up recognizing its greatness.
The journalist Yann Casseville, editor-in-chief of the French magazine ‘Basket Le Mag’, published a tweet after the elimination of Spain in Tokyo surrendering to the Gasols, Ricky, Rudy, Chacho and company.
“I know it’s the Twitter game, but I never felt like writing ‘Win Spain’. More than hating this Spanish generation of Gasol, Llull, Chacho, Rudy Fernández or Rubio, he adored them. His creativity, his game, his rage to win. It was nice ”.
Many French fans have responded to the message and, although some could not hide their dislike for a Spanish player, Most also praised the generation of Spanish players who said goodbye on August 3 after falling in Tokyo against the United States.
“It passed me over time … I loved hating them before acknowledging the obvious and just loving them … It was beautiful, yeah.”
“I agree. What an incredible basketball team. “
“Our best enemies! Perhaps thanks to them the French are at this level. They made us suffer a lot, but they stayed at that level during these years. I respect”.
“It is one of the teams we love to hate. This is what the most beautiful sports matches cause, fierce fights against your best enemies. We don’t like them, but basically we respect them a lot because they are great teams. Respect for them ”.
“The same thing happens to me (in addition to using the same hashtag every time the ending hurt). I loved them immediately and to the end ”.
“As with Kobe at the time, we love to hate them. It is precisely because we recognize their immense talent that we want them to be defeated. Nobody writes ‘Win Iran’ ”.
“To adore them… Maybe not so much, but to recognize their ability, their collective style and their intelligence for basketball. Yes indeed. His vices ruined his aura in close matches (calm down, Rudy Fernández …). This generation came to an end on a false note. “
“’Win Spain’, which I never used, does not necessarily imply hatred. On the contrary, yes, admiration for his beautiful game and everything … But also tricky, dirty and knew how to play dirty in defense. That’s what kept me from being a true fan. “
“One thing does not remove the other”.
“There is only one player I really hate from this constellation of stars that has dominated European and world basketball like never before, Rudy. A dirty, curiously very soft in the NBA… ”.
“Nothing to say about Gasol, he is a man. FIBA’s best of all time. But Rudy Fernández is hated by everyone who saw him play. He is a fake, dirty and dangerous. We will not regret it ”.
The French journalist himself wrote in another tweet that, although the Gasols are gone, perhaps the successes of this generation have not ended. Spanish fans hope this prediction will come true.
“However, even without the Gasols, it is possible that the history of this generation has not ended: at Eurobasket 2022, Sergio Llull will be 34 years old, Sergio Rodríguez 36… Perhaps they do not want to come or their federation decides to make a renewal, but the possibility exists ”.
Not only French journalists and fans have wanted to praise the Catalan’s career. One of his rivals, Rudy Gobert, has praised the role that Sant Boi has had as an absolute reference for a whole generation. The gesture has special symbolism, since the Utah Jazz center was in charge of defending him when the Spaniard played his best game with the national team: the 40 points he achieved in the 2015 Eurobasket.
Congratulations Pau Gasol for your incredible career, and thank you very much for all the memories and battles we have fought. Thank you very much from all the European children who, like me, you inspired us.
VIDEO | The cruel sport that was once part of the Olympics
More stories that may interest you:
Pau Gasol is the perfect Spanish ambassador in Tokyo
Luka Doncic’s ‘bottle’ after its exhibition at the Olympic Games
The United States hallucinates with the state of Pau Gasol at 41