Becoming the club champion of a continent is difficult enough, but doing so as both a player and a coach has proven nearly impossible. Real Madrid legend Lolo Sainz not only accomplished that rare combination, but by matching his great playing career with another as a coach, has been the only person ever to have won the Euroleague title both ways more than once.
As a player, Sainz spent practically all of his career wearing the white of Real Madrid, which he joined in 1961. Together, they proceeded to win seven Spanish League crowns and four Euroleague titles before Sainz finished his playing career at the end of that decade. In addition to their Euroleague titles in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968, Sainz and Madrid were runners-up for the continental crown in 1962, 1963 and 1969, too. Sainz nonetheless remains one of just seven players in Euroleague history to have won the trophy four or more times.
After retiring as a player in 1969, Sainz became a youth coach in the Real Madrid organization and was later promoted to assistant on the first team's bench behind legend Pedro Ferrandiz. In 1975, he succeeded Ferrandiz as Madrid's head coach. Soon, he was leading a new generation of Madrid players to the Euroleague podium in 1978 and 1980. All told, Sainz took part of six out of Madrid's record of eight European club titles. The only other people who have won the Euroleague both as player and coach were: Armenak Alachachan, twice with CSKA Moscow as a player, in 1961 and 1963, and one as its coach, in 1969; and Svetislav Pesic, once as a player, with Bosna Sarajevo in 1979, and once as a coach, with FC Barcelona in 2003 .
In addition to his two Euroleague titles as head coach, Sainz won two Saporta Cups, a Korac Cup and eight Spanish League crowns in 14 seasons until 1989 on Madrid's bench. After a year out of coaching, he returned to lead Joventut Badalona to back-to-back Spanish league titles in 1991 and 1992, the year in which that club also reached the Euroleague title game. In 1993, Sainz was named head coach of the Spanish national team, with whom he won a silver medal at EuroBasket 1999 in France.
Always cordial and gentlemanly, Sainz also represented Real Madrid with class off the court. He was one of 10 coaches chosen among the 50 legends of European Club Basketball by a Euroleague Basketball panel of experts in 2008 at ceremonies held during the last Final Four in the Spanish capital. It was a fitting honor in the perfect setting for a man who helped Real Madrid, in every way possible, to reach basketball greatness.
REAL MADRID: Moments in time
1964: A LONG-AWAITED TITLE
After reaching the finals in 1962 and 1963, Madrid finally managed to win its first Euroleague title in 1964 by beating Spartak Brno of Czechoslovakia in the two-game finals.
1967: A FINAL FOUR FORMAT
Madrid hosted the Euroleague Final Four in 1967 - before the format was dropped until 1988; it defeated Olimpija Ljubljana and Milan behind an outstanding Miles Aiken to claim the title.
1974: THE START OF A RIVALRY
In the first of four title games they played between 1974 and 1978, Real Madrid beat Ignis Varese 84-82 to get its fifth Euroleague crown behind 22 points from Wayne Brabender.
1980: NEW OPPONENTS, SAME GLORY
In the 1980 Euroleague final played in West Berlin, Madrid downed Maccabi Tel Aviv 89-85 to conquer its seventh Euroleague title. Rafa Rullan led the way with 27 points.
2007: LAST EUROPEAN TITLE
Madrid's last continental trophy came in Charleroi, Belgium in 2007. Charles Smith had 19 points and earned MVP honors, as Madrid topped Lietuvos Rytas 75-87 to win the ULEB Cup.