The commandments of the Catholic Church are ten, if they have not changed since I left the Jesuit school in Bilbao a few years ago. I don’t know all of them, but I remember perfectly well that they could be summed up in two. You will love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself. Those of the Madridist church are also varied, as I have been learning since that afternoon in the summer of 1976 when I showed up at the Ciudad Deportiva pavilion in shorts and a suitcase full of dreams and also butter buns, which I had been warned that in Madrid there was none.
And all that ideology was already summed up in a single word: win. Win by playing well, doing it regularly and even on bad days. Win by being superior to the rival or maybe not. Win with style or without it, that is talk of journalists and fans because behind closed doors there is only one absolute truth. Madrid lives to win and only in winning does it find joy, recognition or consolation.
Pulling history, there is no doubt that the strategy works. The trophy room at the Bernabéu is overwhelming and intimidating for opponents. In black and white and in color, Madrid won and wins more than anyone. And a few of those trophies have been against the current, against the odds, against the clock, pulling epic and against the logic that says that whoever does things better will end up winning. That can be applied to everyone except Real Madrid, which can boast of knowing how to win better than anyone.
Now, this brutal hitch with victory has a consequence. Leave any type of defeat without an alibi, since there are only two unique associations. If you win, it’s a success. If you lose it is a failure, because the second places are not recognized, much less celebrated. Dragged by this mantra, there is a danger of not valuing what Real Madrid has done in basketball in the last two months. They haven’t won the final, but just looking back at how that group was a few weeks ago is enough to understand the challenge they faced and the result they’ve achieved. The defeats followed one another, there was neither game nor spirit, two renowned players were removed from the team and Laso, the only voice in those days, ended up somewhat confused with the semantics of what happened. And all this while across the street, Barcelona flew with its luxurious squad towards the conquest of the Euroleague.
Little by little, Laso and his players fixed the problems that could have been solved. They recovered their competitive spirit, they recovered their winning inertia even in games where nothing was going for them, they gritted their teeth to give their defensive game enormous strength and the matter of Heurtel and Thompkins stopped bothering when it became clear Pablo Laso’s intention to don’t give them a ball. And so they appeared in F4, leaving a run run we are Madrid and you know how we spend it on these occasions. Barcelona confirmed it in the semi-finals, where it was not the greatest Barça talent that triumphed, but Madrid’s competitiveness and mental toughness.
In the end, Madrid did not win, probably because they have some structural flaw in their squad. The sum of offensive talent and leadership has been diminishing little by little as a result of withdrawals, marches to the NBA and the logical passage of time in some flagship players. As a result of all this, he no longer has a decisive player, one of those who, when the time comes for definition, you give them the ball and tell them: Hala, win the game. Efes has two, Micic and Larkin, and through there, with the help of Pleiss, the final escaped.
In short, at the risk of contradicting the Whites’ philosophy, I am reluctant not to recognize the group led by Laso and to record that what has been achieved has enormous merit that the final score should not drag down like a flood. Without sounding like heresy, sometimes you can gain a little by losing a lot.
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