FC Barcelona celebrated the 10th anniversary of its second Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title, won in 2010, with a special tribute to that team before its home game against Zenit St Petersburg on Friday.
Xavi Pascual, now coaching Zenit, and one of his assistants, Iñigo Zorzano, led Barcelona to the EuroLeague title and were back in town to face their former club. Barcelona took that chance to hold this long-awaited celebration, which had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in front of a fully-packed Palau Blaugrana of 4,500 fans.
Before the game, most of the players who won that 2010 EuroLeague title – Juan Carlos Navarro, Gianluca Basile, Pete Mickeal, Erazem Lorbek, Jordi Trias, Roger Grimau, Fran Vazquez and Victor Sada – were available for a meet-and-greet at the club store beside the arena. A wonderful pre-game ceremony was the highlight of the event, with Barcelona fans cheering for their heroes of 10 years later.
Coach Pascual was first o be honored with a standing ovation right after both teams' player introductions. Pascual answered with a warm applause to all Barcelona fans.
"I am very thankful," Pascual said after his team lost 84-58 to the hosts. "It was fantastic to come to the Palau. Thank you to the fans for the way they welcomed me. It was great. Thanks to the club, too, for organizing this act when we came here. What they did was very beautiful. I am thankful to see all these players again, an important group of players from that moment. All that was fantastic, the first 20 minutes of the game were good but after that, we went out of the game and it was over."
The employees working for the basketball section at the time of the 2010 titles were introduced next. Some of them, like current press officer Carles Cascante and former communications director Oriol Bonsoms, are still working for the club.
Then, one by one, came the players who brought that EuroLeague trophy home to the club in 2010. Pete Mickeal, who came to Palau Blaugrana for the first time in eight years, was one of the last players to be named, receiving a warm ovation. He was followed by current basketball manager and club legend Juan Carlos Navarro, who brought the trophy to center court for a family picture with everyone.
Those players who could not attend the event sent video messages for fans that were posted in social media. Jaka Lakovic, Boni Ndong, Terence Morris, Lubos Barton and Ricky Rubio each left messages. Rubio, currently playing for Cleveland of the NBA, sent the funniest one, saying that, "I would like to be there with all of you, but you are retired and have a thousand things to do, but I am still playing, huh?", he joked. Rubio added, "I would love to be there remembering and celebrating such important and special moments. It was a unique season. I told Jordi (Trias) that in 20 years, I would probably think that this season would be the best of my career – and it is so far."