By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Another historical moment, among so many others, is going to take place tonight for Juan Carlos Navarro, as the captain of Barcelona will play the 300th match of his Euroleague career.
Perhaps it is far from a coincidence that this milestone does not arrive in an ordinary game, but in a tough playoff battle. Barcelona will search for a victory that will tie the series against Lokomotiv Kuban in order to prevent the dangerous 2-0 from happening. After all, this has been proven to be a point of no return in the history of the quarterfinals, so far. It goes without saying that if there is one player that realizes the importance of tradition and how it works in this competition, then that is the one who has played in more Euroleague games than any other of his peers.
“Reaching this number of games looks impressive, but I care little in comparison with what is at stake on Friday”, specifically said Navarro. Shall we expect him to celebrate the occasion with a performance that will help his team break the home court advantage of Lokomotiv Kuban and give Barcelona the upper hand in the series?
Even though the Catalans’ captain is past his prime, it will definitely not be surprise at all if such a thing occurs. We are talking, after all, about the best scorer ever in Euroleague. Navarro is in the first place of the related list with 3.851 points (an average of 12.88 which becomes 20.53 if projected in 40 minutes of playing time. He is also the player with the most three-pointers made (570) and fouls drawn (1118).
As if these are not enough, “La Bomba” is the second best performer in Euroleague history, with an accumulated number of 3.656 in the evaluation system (12.23 per game), while he is seventh in the list of the players with the most distributed assists, having dished 751 (2.51 per game) in his career so far. No small number per se, since we are talking about a natural born scorer.
Juan Carlos Navarro made his debut in Euroleague on October 18th 2000 in a road win of Barcelona against Buducnost. The 20-year old, back then, player finished the match with only 2 points, but in the next game of his team, versus PAOK in Spain, he showed a glimpse of the stuff that he is made from by dropping 14 points on his opponents. Barcelona lost that match 58 – 67, but this appearance by a highly promising Navarro was a silver lining that would become golden in the upcoming years.
Although he has season MVP in 2008-2009, chosen for the squad of the All Euroleague First team five times (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and member of the All Euroleague Second team twice (2012, 2013), his individual crowning achievement in a club level arrived in the 2010 Final Four, in Paris. It was then when the Spanish legend made history for himself and Barcelona by leading his team to its second Euroleague trophy after beating Olympiacos 86 – 68 in the Final. Navarro dropped 21 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 3 assists, rightfully winning the Final Four MVP award
He has played all 299 – soon to be 300 – games of his Euroleague career, wearing the same jersey since his heart belongs to Barcelona, exclusively. That is why we can’t picture him in the colors of any other club. After all, we are talking about one of the most iconic team captains in Europe.