Brazil, nostalgic for its basketball glories, celebrates 60 years of the bi-world championship – 05/25/2023 – Sport

Brazil, nostalgic for its basketball glories, celebrates 60 years of the bi-world championship – 05/25/2023 – Sport

Nelson Rodrigues did not see well nor was he a basket ball specialist. But his short-sighted eyes were accurate in spotting the obvious and were blown away by the party that took over Rio de Janeiro 60 years ago.

With an 85-81 victory over the United States, at the Maracanãzinho gymnasium, on May 25, 1963, Brazil became two-time world champion. Wlamir’s green-yellow team repeated what Garrincha’s green-yellow team had done the previous year, in Chile, at the soccer World Cup. And Rio got drunk.

“Sad is the joy that doesn’t bring a single, scarce stick of water. In the second of football, what did we see? A unanimous intoxication, either from pure happiness or from violent cachaça. At every step, you could see a Brazilian with the face civically slumped in the gutter. Well then. And, the day before yesterday, basketball gave us its first drunks”, published Nelson, in his column in the May 27 edition of O Globo.

According to the hyperbolic chronicler, “in Maracanãzinho, what happened was inconceivable”. “The impact of the triumph physically changed the fans. Guys with menacing faces were beautiful,” he said, before observing a similar effect on women.

“The tripe disappeared, and I repeat: no one was a tripper anymore. Next to me, there was a holy lady, with thin and spectral shins and a face. God forgive me, like a witch from a children’s record. Because in the penultimate basket in Brazil, she already looked like an Ava Gardner to me.”

Discounting all the exaggerations of the brilliant writer, the party was really remarkable 60 years ago, even if it was concentrated in Rio de Janeiro. At a time when the NBA, the North American basketball league, was still a teenager, Brazil was among the great forces of basketball and had already been world champion in 1959, in Chile – benefited, it is true, by the disqualification of the Union Soviet.

“At that time, the big titles were divided between three countries. Sometimes, the United States won. Sometimes, it was Brazil. Sometimes, it was the Soviet Union”, he said, to the SheetWlamir Marques, 85, main candidate for the greatest name in the history of Brazilian basketball.

He recalled that the preparation for the sequence of competitions that culminated in the bi world championship lasted five months, something inconceivable today. “The national team acquired a personality with over-training! Our coach, Kanela, was very demanding. We went to win, we played to be champions. We had the conditions for that.”

They did. Brazil recorded a 100% success in the World Cup and won the cariocas game by game. In the penultimate round of the final heptagonal, with the then record income in Maracanãzinho, the duel with the Soviet Union had the air of a final.

Kanela showed that his rigor was not limited to the athletes themselves and made the refereeing hell, especially trampling Uruguayan Julio Sánchez Padilla, who expelled him. Amaury and Wlamir had great performances. And the home team made 90 to 79.

There was still a step to go, however, for that team. Which had Ubiratan and Rosa Branca in the bottle. It had Sucar and Mosquito. And he had the backing of a crazy drunk town.

“That was a business that grew. In the first game, there weren’t so many people. But we were winning, we were undefeated champions. In the final game, there were people hanging in every corner of Maracanãzinho, and it’s not even the Maracanãzinho of today, there was room for a lot more people. There was an invasion at the end. It’s a very good memory”, said Wlamir.

The United States no longer had title chances on that journey. But they had run over Brazil at the Pan American Games, days before, in São Paulo. And they had Willis Reed, who, in 1996, would be elected among the best 50 players of the first 50 years of the NBA and, in 2021, among the best 75 of the first 75 years of the league.

If the hosts (with five wins in five games) won that Saturday, they would be champions. If they lost, on Sunday they would play a tie-breaker against the winner of the duel between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (then with four wins and one loss each).

“We lost 22 points to the United States in the Pan-American. It was an exceptional team. But we knew we could win. And that incentive from the fans, the atmosphere… Having that in your favor greatly increases performance. You feel stimulated by all those people by your side”, vibrated Wlamir.

Sixty years later, basketball in Brazil does not have the appeal it had in those weeks of 1963. In the World Cup that is about to take place –will be held between August 25th and September 10th, in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan–, the national team, in moment of renewal, seeks a long-lasting campaign, which, if possible, earns a vacancy in the 2024 Olympic Games, in Paris.

The group commanded by Gustavo de Conti has young talent, such as shipowner Yago, 24. But Brazil is not a power, will not be world champion and will not cause collective intoxication, as it did six decades ago.

“I don’t like what I’m seeing”, summed up Wlamir. “We want to play basketball imitating the United States. It turned into a three-point ball competition. What we see in Brazil is a naked game. What you see in the Americas, in Venezuela, in Puerto Rico, is that everyone plays Americana . Arrives and kicks [arremessa].”

There wasn’t even a three-point line in 1963. The ball possession clock was limited to 30 seconds, six more than the current one. But Wlamir’s Brasil, Diabo Loiro, as much as he despises modernity, played a game today seen as modern, of speed, which suffocated rivals and had shots from outside the paint.

This game enchanted Rio. Conquered the world. And it made the shortsighted Nelson Rodrigues –happy with a victory that he could not analyze tactically– attribute the result not to a specific man, as he loved to do in football, but to the Brazilian human being, as a collective figure. Promoted, no small honor, to “Character of the Week” in the Genius column.

“That’s life. The idiots of objectivity consider all the factors and forget only one detail: the man! Brazil and the world. What became evident is that ours had a different impetus, a different charm, a different luminosity”, observed Nelson.

“I ask: who should be my character of the week? I think of several: Amauri, Vlamir, Vitor, Kanela, Mosquito, Sucar, Ubiratan, Jatir and the one who has the chaste, nuptial name of Rosa Branca. But today, mine character of the week will be the general man of Brazil.”

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