In our series to present the people and organizations that are organizing and can be considered as a part of European basketball, we come up today with an interview with the French journalist Pascal Legendre.
Pascal, can you present yourself to our readers. What have you achieved and what is your actual role?
I am one of the founders of Maxi-Basket, in 1982, at a time where there was not one single magazine about basketball in France. That’s 25 years that I am the editor in chief of Maxi-Basket, as well as of MVP Basket, which is talking about the NBA, while Maxi-Basket is focused on France and Europe. I am also in charge of Hand Action, the only French monthly magazine talking about Handball, and of three quarterly publications talking about soccer. But my passion, besides being a journalist, is basketball. I have to chance to being originally from Le Mans, a city that always had a professional basketball team on a high level. I have seen my first game in February 1963 and I have never lost the passion for basketball.
You are also the author of a blog in French which is called I Love Basket (www.ilovebasket.com). Why did you start blogging? And what do you think in general about blogging from your position as a journalist?
It was my daughter that pushed me to start a blog on my own. She has created her own blog (www.misshello.com) two years ago and has just started her own company and so we had the idea of creating I Love Basket together. It was her that was in charge of the creative part of it, who is doing the promotion, … and I am writing.Finally, it is a quite big amount of work as this is added to my activity as journalist/editor in chief/head of a company. But writing about basketball is a pleasure, even if the French basketball is not really nice at the moment, especially since the last Eurobasket. The blog is another media, more personal than the magazine, more open with a real contact with the readers. A journalist I know told me today that I write differently on my blog than in Maxi-Basket and I think it is true.
I really appreciate the blog scene and I don’t think it is incompatible with journalism. I know some journalists who have blogs in Fashion especially, and I know some bloggers that could be journalists without any problem. What I don’t like however on the internet is the total disrespect of intellectual property, of property by itself in fact. To scan articles in order to put them on websites or forums, I think that is MISERABLE.
What is the influence a magazine like Maxi-Basket has on the French Basketball? Do you have the feeling that you can influence opinions?
We influence our readers, that’s sure, like every media does. And this was even more the case between 1982 and 1991 when we had the monopoly in France. This is less true since there is competition like BasketNews or the Internet.
On the other hand, we had very little influence on the deciding bodies of the French basketball scene as they often did exactly the opposing of what we have had as ideas. One example: you have to think, do something easy and apply what you have decided to be done and change the less possible the rules. However in France, the decisions are taken in two times and three moves just before the apéritif, the championship formulas are always changing and what has been voted in the morning is overruled in the afternoon!
What have been the moments that you will always remember in your career as sports journalist?
For a sports lovers, the biggest event is of course the Olympic games. I had the chance to follow five of them, even if for the first ones in 1984 at Los Angeles, I had no press accreditation and did not see at lot. I would say that Sydney 2000 because of the Silver Medal for France in Basketball and Seoul 1988 because I had a muliti-sport accreditation and so I could follow a lot of athletics, swimming, boxing and cycling between the basketball games, were the best. I saw the final of the 100m with Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis sitting just 10 meters from the finish line. You know, behind basketball, Track&Field competitions are my second favorite sport. And a final of the 100m at the Olympics, it is better than anything… For more personal reasons, I was extremely happy when the French Women National team became European champion in 2001 in my hometown of Le Mans.
What has to be changed in French basketball to become a European force?
The French sport is suffering from being dependant of public institutions. In basketball, the league is depending of the federation which is depending of the Ministry of Sports. Everything works with the money from the tax payers. We need a totally independent private league which is not linked anymore to the federation. And this league should be headed by competent people like in every normal private company. Presidents should be owners of their clubs, like Gilles Moretton in Villeurbanne. It is their role then to find the necessary economic and human resources. You are good, you earn money, and why not a lot. If you are not good, you have to leave. But this is only a dream.
And what is your opinion about Michel Gomez becoming the new head coach of the French National Team?
He was the biggest coach in French history… in 1995. Ok?