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The poetry of basketball

The beauty and thrills of an exceptional year both championship and play off.

Manlio Cancogni, Italian literature and journalism veteran – ninety eight birthday recently celebrated – has always dedicated his attention to sport with great passion. As a journalist with “Espresso”, “Corriere della Sera” and “Giornale”, Cancogni has written hundreds of sports articles and been World Cup and Olympic special envoy. He is also a novelist whose novel “La Carriera di Pimlico” features a race horse as its central character and a story dedicated to the social and cultural role in sport of Il Mister. It was Cancogni (who lives on the coast near Pistoia, in Versilia, at Marina di Pietrasanta to be exact) who used an expression which has gone down in history in a recent book interview “Il racconto più lungo. Storia della mia vita”: “Sport”, he said, “is the art of the twentieth century”. He argues that sport has aesthetic and poetic value and a great feat of technique should be considered a work of art – the work of art – which is admired by the largest public.

The sporting year of the Giorgio Tesi Group seems to have given Cancogni’s words practical expression. Let’s just think of a few moments which will remain emblazoned on our memories for ever without running through the whole championship in our minds: the two point basket scored by J.J Johnson against Bologna just as time was about to run out which won Pistoia its victory; Riccardo Cortese’s shot almost from the opposite side of the court which took a couple of seconds – two interminable seconds during which time seemed to stand still – to reach the basket; Gek Galanda’s ‘roars’ after the triple which never stopped coming; the constancy of that light katerpillar Bradley Wanamaker; Kyle Gibson’s concentration which re-opened games which seemed lost with his triple shots; that black angel Ed Daniel reaching up into the skies and the agility of Deron Washington with those three fingers circulating in the air after a ‘bomb’. But that’s not all.

Just think of the determination and nobility of the man who was acclaimed as the best trainer of the year, Paolo Moretti, and the applause he gave the whole stadium who wanted him in Pistoia ‘for life’ and his long embrace with Galanda before the last match in the championship, when time out had been called a few seconds before the end of the match and the fifth play off match had been won by Milan, and his group salute (thanking the group) in front of a large audience even for away games. And lastly, think of the public: the people whose songs filled the stadium, put on top class dance routines (that for the match against Siena in particular), applauded the players wearing the Pistoia colours and returned to salute the team (Fiorello Toppo and Michael Hicks). All this – and much more – represents the essence of sport. Sport which thrills and sometimes moves to tears, brings excitement and despair, leaves us open-mouthed as if it were an artistic masterpiece and unites the community around it. And which makes new recruits.

La poesia del basket

The Giorgio Tesi Group’s role was also to reignite interest and passion for basketball and bring new audiences and generations to it. A packed PalaCarrara speaks for itself but so do the dozens and dozens of children who followed the championship, who collected the ‘fives’ of their friendly heroes, played basketball on the courts and in the gyms and gave themselves the nicknames of their favourite players. Children who are choosing this sport in growing numbers as a way to keep fit and (certainly unconsciously) as education for life involving taking responsibility individually and jointly with others – team game values par excellence – difficult moments and moments of triumph, victory and defeat.
For many of these children, the curtain has not yet fallen on the Pistoia basketball season. The summer court in Cutligliano has, in fact, opened over the last few days. Basketball in Pistoia is not simply PalaCarrara anymore – it is now a circuit. And many of its players are on grass where they learn to play together, have fun and grow up in the midst of our beautiful mountains and also shoot a few more baskets. The helm is as safe as it could be: the eternal captain Gek Galanda.

www.pistoiabasket2000.it

TEXTS

Giovanni Capecchi

PHOTO

Marta Colombo

[vc_gallery type=”image_grid” images=”23821,23819,23817,23815,23813,23824″ title=”The poetry of basketball”]

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