“In the NBA, they offended me”

The all-time leading scorer in world basketball wears a Mickey Mouse tracksuit. Óscar Schmidt Becerra (Río Grande do Norte, Brazil; 64) can’t stop laughing and snapping photos with whoever asks him at a hotel in Seville, before entering the Spanish Basketball Hall of Fame during the gala organized by the Spanish Federation and the newspaper As. When he sits down, he relives a legendary career in which he scored 49,737 points in official matches, more than anyone in history. He spent two seasons (93-94 and 94-95) in Valladolid, when he had already passed the NBA train. Despite everything, the sublime shooter who was nicknamed Mano Santa today wears the ring of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield (USA) on his left hand. The myth, record collector, is still very much alive after beating a brain tumor.

Interrogate. What are you working on?

Answer. I give conferences to companies about my career. I live in São Paulo and I watch a lot of basketball, let’s see if we have good players. I have a son and a daughter. My son played with me an official match of the Brazilian championship! And he hit two triples. He was 16 years old. One of the joys of my life.

P Do you know how many points you scored in your career?

R How many? Forty-nine thousand… I never played to think of it.

P Is there a basket you particularly remember?

R More than a basket, the greatest conquest of my generation, the 1987 Panamerican which we won in the final against the United States in Indianapolis [120-115]. Everyone in Brazil remembers this tournament, they even just made a comic about it. The United States had a great team, my goodness, better than many professional teams. We didn’t think we could beat them. I got 46 points.

P Who nicknamed him Holy Hand?

R Álvaro José, columnist, and Juárez Araújo, writer for the sports gazette of São Paulo. In between, they did the TV show. In a match between Brazil and Mexico, there was a Mexican player called Mano Santa, but we beat them well. And the commentators said, “Is that the Mano Santa? We have the Holy Hand”.

Oscar Schmidt, with Brazil against Puerto Rico at the 1996 Olympics.Doug Pensinger (Getty Images)

P The secret to his shooting?

R Coaching. There are no secrets in basketball. I am a training product. At the end of each practice, I stayed and shot 500 3-pointers. If there was a double session, then 1000. One day when I was playing in Italy I thought it was too easy and I said to myself that I would not go home if I did not not score 20 in a row without fail. Usually he got it at most on the third try. I was 18 first…and failed. 17… and I fail. When I hit 20, I kept going until I saw where I could go. Do you know how many I got? 90 triples without failure.

P Do young people train the same way today?

R No, they don’t like working out because it’s heavy. It’s boring to shoot so many times. It never weighed on me.

P You don’t change shoes from game to game if you win…

R It was not possible. And he trained with them. Once we won 25 games in a row and the coach scolded me for playing with broken shoes that he had to tape over.

P What do you remember of Valladolid?

R I thought he was going to play with Sabonis, but he went to Madrid. Can you imagine what Sabonis and I would have done together? Win it all, although we may have needed two bullets. In Valladolid it was cold. My wife loved El Corte Inglés.

P Why didn’t you sign at Real Madrid?

R I have at home a contract signed by Ramón Mendoza for three years. I was playing for Caserta and the owner asked me: “What is this Real Madrid story?” I don’t know how he knew, because I didn’t tell anyone. It might be Lolo Sainz. I replied to the owner that he had signed a contract with Madrid. “How old are you?” Three. “I’ll give you four.” And I stayed. I could have played with Petrovic. In the Recopa 89 final with Madrid, he scored 62 points for us [victoria blanca por 117-113, con 44 puntos de Schmidt]. my mother I had never seen anyone wear more than 40.

P And why didn’t he play in the NBA?

R I was offended. I was elected to position 131 of the Disorganized, in the sixth round, the Nets in 1984. Really, 131? They didn’t believe basketball was played outside of the United States. For that alone, I thought I was going to prove them wrong. I went to pre-season and I blurted out to the coach: “Coach, one minute, one point. If you give me 20 minutes per game, I’ll give you 20 points. If you give me more than 30, I could put 60″. The American boys looked at me in amazement. And that’s what happened. We played five games against rookies from other teams, I had 25 minutes and I had 25 points. They have gone mad! “We need to hire this guy,” they said. They offered me a contract but I turned it down. My life was already good. He played in Italy and in the Brazilian team. Why would I risk being left on the bench? It didn’t interest me. And also a FIBA ​​rule prohibits playing with your national team if you were in the NBA. That’s why I didn’t go there. I would have done well. Sure.

P How is it possible that without playing in the NBA, he is in the Hall of Fame in the United States, in addition to the FIBA ​​Hall of Fame?

R Look at my ring, I have incredible affection for it. I don’t know who voted for me. I had been invited to the NBA 3-point contest twice but didn’t go. One day I was driving and the phone rang. I put the loudspeaker. They told me I was entering the Hall of Fame. I had to stop the car. My hands were shaking.

Schmidt, during the interview in Seville.Alexandre Ruesga

P How did you manage to play until you were 45?

R You can’t imagine how difficult it is to play after 40. Everything hurts. You lose speed and jump. Other than shooting, I’ve never lost that.

P Which shooter do you like?

R Clay Thompson. The curry is very good, but Thompson is a great thing. His shot is always the same, perfect no matter where he is. What a player. From before, Larry Bird. When I entered the Hall of Fame, I said I couldn’t run or jump, but I could shoot. Bird looked at me and laughed.

P Recovered from the tumor?

R Yes. I have never regretted having been ill. My career seemed to be touched by the finger of God. I am a devout Catholic and the Pope put his hand on my head. There, I thought he was already cured. I continued the treatment until January this year and now I am like a machine.

Points and triples records

  • Two years in Valladolid. In Italy he played for Caserta and Pavia. In Spain, in Valladolid (93-94 and 94-95). He was the league’s top scorer both seasons, averaging 28.3 points in 71 total games. And maximum three-point shooter: 132 and 160 in each course.
  • More points than LeBron. He added 49,737 points, more than LeBron James in his career: 44,693. He played 1,289 club games.
  • five olympic games. He is the top scorer of the Games, with 1,083 points. He holds the record for goals in an Olympic match, 55 points against Spain in Seoul 88. And in a World Cup match: 53 against Australia in 1990.
  • Medals with Brazil. Bronze at the 1978 World Cup and gold at the 1987 Panamerican. 326 caps.

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