In his final drunkventure from Madrid, Emmet Ryan reports on everything that happened at and around the Euroleague championship game.
It’s the freaking myth of Spanoulis man. Real could have been up 20 with 2 minutes to go (yes, I am aware they won by 19) and you still wouldn’t have thought they were safe.
The day began remarkably politely. I made it in time for the Adidas NGT final. Got my stuff done and hit the road to film some pieces for The Ballin After (which drops on Tuesday by the way) and that’s when everything kind of went to hell. Chocaletria San Gines, done. A glass of Rioja on Plaza Mayor because I promised Jayme on a different night when I was drunk, so done. Then back to the arena for the Small Final as some journalists call it. The rest of us call it the piece of dung game that nobody cares about. There just had to be one pit stop.
I wasn’t brave enough to enter the CSKA Moscow bar, yes that picture at the top is an actual bar wholly taken over by CSKA, but I did briefly consider going in the door saying Dasvidanya (which the internet now tells me doesn’t mean hello) strolling to the bar and saying Wodka. Fortunately Irish-Russian relations were not ruined and my cowardice proved sensible.
When I hit the arena I met Zoran, a Serbian journalist with Reuters who works his ass off but like me also plays his ass off too. He was feeling it from the night before. I had been in that same place for the World Cup bronze medal game. Delicate is the polite term we use but at least in that situation I had a night to recover before the big show.
Of course the big show for some was not the Euroleague Championship game but we’ll get to that in a minute. The third place game was a mess, I wouldn’t even call it a hot mess despite the ending. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, the Skyliners vs Bayern Munich German playoff game I was watching during it turned into a blowout just as Fenerbahce reeled in CSKA Moscow. It was what it was, Kirilenko joked about his off-season plans and De Colo did a full about face and said he was totally willing to play for France at EuroBasket. Anyway, now for the nonsense.
A journalist who shall remain nameless, mainly because I don’t know his name, was just in front of me as we were leaving the gents between games.
Here’s the thing. When somebody drops something in the men’s room, it’s kind of weird to pick it up and hand it to them no matter what it is. When you don’t speak the same language as that journalist, it’s a little weirder. When you look down and see that he’s dropped two condoms, there is no language barrier that is going to prevent you making sure he is the one to pick them up. I point and he goes “Huh”, I point again and the boy goes cherry faced. He grabbed them as he laughed it off I just shouted “Don’t worry, I stay safe.” Let’s just hope he put them to good use.
Having fixed my Wifi problems via the array of gadgets with me, upside of being a tech hack, the final itself was pretty cool despite the final margin. I remember Milano. That arena was a freaking sweatbox in the middle of nowhere, all my drunkventures there save the off night were solo as there were no bars within passable falling distance, but it’s not the cheap cigarettes and conveniently located bars to my AirBnB that stick out most. It’s not even David Blatt holding court in the most jovial way. Anyone who saw Pablo Laso after Real lost to Maccabi knew that game hurt him. You couldn’t help but want the dude to bounce back.
So here we are in the arena and I’m beside Fabio again. We’re watching and thinking Olympiacos have the tempo. Then Maciulis comes in and instead of being a bruiser, this veteran hard man is the speed difference for Real alongside Old Man Nocioni. Felipe Reyes reeked but the dude did enough prior to this weekend to have a couple of off nights and let someone else carry the load.
The game ends, the Madrid fans celebrate and I run to these two plastic chairs which I figure can just about sustain my size for some photos of the celebrations. Mammy Ryan didn’t raise a small boy so when these teenage volunteers try to stand on the same chairs as me I’m not being greedy. I’m fearful for all our safety. I go “Umm I’m fat” and unsure of whether they understood realised I remembered the word “Gordo” that got one of them to reconsider but it was still risky enough until I could jump down after Reyes lifted the trophy.
The interviews with the Olympiacos players were as brief as you’d expect. They had lost, dudes did not want to be there. With Real, well we got desperate. The first few players straight out breezed through so when their Americans came the non-Spanish speaking press corps came good. We were basically yelling at them like their presence was the only thing that could save us from drowning. At a major event like this, it would kind of help if players realised talking to us after they win is a good thing. Fortunately we really got lucky. KC Rivers was cool as hell, Marcus Slaughter was smiling and jovial, while Jaycee Carroll had a brief thought about moving before a look of pity swept his face so he stopped and was great. Laso did his thing in the press conference and everybody was pretty chill about getting their work done. The Italians raced through their business so they could all watch the Clippers and the Rockets because basketball never sleeps.
Now all we had to do was find somewhere to drink.
Madrid. Seriously, sort yourself out. At 12.45am it should not be a freaking Odyssey to get a beer. Our brave gang of six became five as we pass the media hotel. Eventually Frankie, Igor, Rob, Sam, and I found a VIPS that wasn’t going to turn us away. I had to power through the first Jarra to make sure I could fit in a second. If I can’t do these drunk, I better at least be tipsy. It was a laugh over fried food and booze, that’s all I need. We said our goodbyes and then it was back to base where I really hope I’m not going to wake my AirBnB hosts when I go for a smoke after I publish this.