Juan Carlos Navarro: his new passion and his role in today’s NBA world / News
Juan Carlos Navarro fired ahead of Barcelona training in Training center Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.
He was preparing for the EuroLeague qualifiers game against the fearless challenger Bayern Munich.
The first long three did not connect. Navarro mumbled, jogging for the ball which bounced away from the edge. It wasn’t the usual scene for the EuroLeague’s all-time 3-point leader (623).
A few minutes later, when her wrist warmed slightly, La Bomba couldn’t resist shooting long range shots in this easy shooting manner that you will never forget.
But when head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius intervened, Navarro, 41, walked off the pitch and sat on the sidelines.
The second all-time top scorer in the EuroLeague is now the general manager of FC Barcelona.
Once he was a star shooting Barcelona’s way into the Championships. Now his job is to make good line-up decisions with Jasikevicius and sporting director Mario Bruno Fernandez.
The two-time EuroLeague champion and eight-time ACB champion has seen plenty of examples to follow in his career, and he’s trying to use those best experiences to build a championship team as an executive.
“He hasn’t changed much from his playing days. He is quiet and speaks only when necessary. He listens and watches more than he talks,” Sarunas Jasikevicius said of his partner , with whom he shared the floor as leader. at the time.
Navarro has never been a fan of being in the spotlight. He made headlines with his pictures, not his words.
But he gave BasketNews a rare exclusive opportunity to discuss his new role and the key highlights that followed his Barcelona career and still follow to this day.
3 points this season
Juan Carlos, what’s it like for you to hold that ball and shoot three-fours after you retire? What do you think of this game now?
I particularly miss this moment of the competition. That feeling, the adrenaline you get when you play those kind of playoff games.
I am fully aware that I haven’t been a player for four years. I started with the young people, with the young people… And now, as general manager, working with Mario (Bruno Fernandez) and Saras (Sarunas Jasikevicius), we share a great relationship.
This is very important because we have many challenges to overcome. In a club like Barcelona, you always have to win.
Before we start, there is an elephant that we need to move from this room. You scored 290 points against Zalgiris Kaunas, the most among all EuroLeague players. What allowed you to kill Zalgiris every time you faced them?
I have always played well against them. Maybe it was due to the atmosphere. In Lithuania, there is a great basketball atmosphere. When you go into the arena, you feel it. You notice this feeling.
I remember the matches with Sabonis, Saras himself… There is a great passion there. It coincided with me being in my prime (smiles).
Reached your career highs in points (32) and rating (35) playing against Zalgiris. Any special memories of those matches in the old Kaunas gymnasium?
I remember seeing Sabonis in the front row next to me. It was remarkable to see such an important player.
There were days when the basket was like a swimming pool. I’ve always been hot there.
If you were coach Juan Carlos Navarro, how would you try to stop player Juan Carlos Navarro?
Maybe the same way they tried to do, with a very physical game.
I always had to adapt to play against the best rival defenders with a high level of athleticism. I got better as a player over the seasons, reading the game better and waiting for my moment.
You are the one who changed the way basketball was played. Your performance on the basketball court was like a show. Who do you like watching the game the most now?
There are a lot of talented players. Here on our team we have some of those who can read the game and be a game changer. This is why we are a top team.
Also, Shane Larkin and Mike James would be among the top names. At Barça, we have several players. For me, Nicolas Laprovittola looks like what I was. He is a free-spirited player without pressure. His style reminds me.
Did you see Steph Curry say that your game was an inspiration to him?
When I read about it, I was surprised, obviously (laughs).
I had the chance to play against him. When a world-class player says I’ve been an inspiration to him, it’s unbelievable.
He is faster and better ball handler than me. It’s an honor to say he copied my one-legged shot.
Today NBA stars with skills similar to yours (Steph Curry, Trae Young) shine in the league. AAlso, there are a lot more international players on the NBA scene.
Given these facts, do you think you would have had a better opportunity to play in the NBA and do it for the winning team rather than the Memphis Grizzlies, who had a lackluster season (22-60)?
European players have evolved. In the United States they have a lot more respect for us now, and there are a lot of options to go there.
We have been working for many years since Fernando Martin and Pau Gasol broke the myths about going to the NBA.
You say that international players are more respected in the NBA today, which would have helped you?
Contracts were smaller. They recognized the EuroLeague as a great competition.
They have also suffered against us several times in FIBA competitions. We have earned respect on the pitch, showing that we are good players and that we understand the game.
Credit Getty Images Sport
You had a huge package of values that makes a star player. You were very talented, you loved the game, you worked hard at it, you were injured and you were loyal to a club.
What do you think of the new generation of basketball players: what do you like and hate the most about them?
Previously, it was easier to identify the franchise player in a team. There was Dimitris Diamantidis, Vassilis Spanoulis, even myself… Now it’s very difficult for a player to stay for many years at the same club.
Young players today only watch highlights, and they hardly watch entire matches. And that’s a problem. I think everyone thinks of the NBA without wanting to be important here. People identified much more with the players before.
There is a friend you have played with since the Barcelona youth academies. Throughout this basketball journey, you have become great teammates and friends, building many victories for Barcelona and the Spanish national team. Now you’re working for Barcelona as general manager and your friend is exploring his potential role with the Golden State Warriors.
Where do you think you’re most likely to work with Pau Gasol again: in Barcelona, the governing body of basketball (like the Spanish Basketball Federation) or the NBA club?
We started together with Pau, then we continued separately. We both love basketball. He likes to do a lot of things. Golden State, COE, he is also the ambassador of Barcelona…
I think there would be a lot more options to match here in Barcelona than anywhere else. His wife is from the United States. Maybe he could be part of the front office in the future, let’s see.
What kind of teammates did you play with at Barcelona with Sarunas Jasikevicius, and what kind of unit do you currently work with him at Barcelona?
He is really passionate about the game. As a player, he was demanding. As a coach, he is also very demanding. It is because of his passion for the game.
He feels he belongs to this club. He feels part of Barca. There is a good fluid relationship between us.
When you are in a club like this, the results are important. He believes in his work and we believe in him. There are always ups and downs during the season, but I think we can do great things together. I hope we can stay together for a long time.
You have played with many Barcelona league teams. Which of these teams gave you an example of how you should build a championship team as general manager?
We want to have high-level players while associating them with young people. We aim to build a good chemistry between the staff and the players, the whole team. They need to know what it means to play for and at this club.
And the biggest key is to show commitment. We all have to go there together.
How close did you get to those league sides for this Barcelona side under coach Sarunas Jasikevicius?
It is so, exactly. The mix of the best players with the youngsters, seeing the young players grow and help more every day. You can give them examples of those who are currently in the team or those who have been like Bolmaro. Another thing to talk about is the Rokas Jokubaitis case.
What we are looking for is to find profiles that can fit into different positions. Basketball has evolved a lot. Players aren’t so strictly categorized now. They can now play different roles.
We follow Saras and his philosophy. The backcourt has to generate a lot. He gives it a lot of importance. He thinks teams with players who generate and take advantage of ball handling and high utilization usually win.
Credit Rodolfo Molina/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
What would be your all-time five at Barcelona?
It’s hard to say. It’s a complicated mix because there are so many styles, and basketball has evolved so much.
Now any player can play in different positions. A few years ago, everything was much more established. For example, you couldn’t play with three point guards back then.
When we were champions in 2003, we had an incredible team. In 2010, the type of basketball was modern. And now we also have a very good list.
If we’re talking about an all-time five… The Gasol brothers would be there, that’s for sure. Saras in my time, Bodiroga too. Ricky Rubio from 2010. Now Niko (Mirotic), Cory (Higgins)…
Five players is too few to tell you (laughs).
You were a very passionate basketball player. Where does this passion come from in this new position as general manager of Barcelona?
By being very close to the team and spending a lot of time with them. I am responsible for basketball at FC Barcelona. Not only for the senior team but also for all the youth teams. I try to help as much as I can.
Sharing experiences with the staff and seeing the children grow… This makes me very happy. Seeing 14-15 year olds who have options to get into the elite like I did a long time ago is rewarding.
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