Real Madrid forward Andres Nocioni, a former Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion and Final Four MVP, announced in a letter to his Twitter followers on Monday that he will end his playing career at age 37 following this season. In addition, Real Madrid announced a special press conference about Nocioni for Tuesday afternoon. Nocioni’s incredible career took him from the Argentinian small town of Galvez to become an Olympic champion and the Final Four MVP in 2015 when Real Madrid won its first EuroLeague title in two decades.
Known throughout the basketball world for the energy and aggressiveness he always brings to the game, Nocioni left his native Argentina when signed as a young talent by EuroLeague club Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz of Spain. He spent a year on loan to Manresa of the Spanish League, but soon after that, he was back to Vitoria-Gasteiz to become one of the key players who put the club from a small Spanish city on the basketball map for good. Together with teammates like Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto, Pablo Prigioni – all of them from Argentina, too – Jose Manuel Calderon, Sergi Vidal and Arvydas Macijauskas, Nocioni became a two-time All-EuroLeague selection and help consolidate Baskonia’s rise to permance among Europe’s elite.
The first major highlight of his career came in the summer of 2004 when Argentina shocked the basketball world by becoming the only team besides the United States to win the gold medal since 1988. Nocioni was the team’s third-best scorer. He had previously won silver with the team at the 2002 World Championships and would add an Olympics bronze medal at the Beijing Games in 2008.
After the 2004 Olympics, Nocioni moved to the NBA to play five seasons with the Chicago Bulls, then he stayed in the United States a few more years playing for Sacramento and Philadelphia.
In 2012, Nocioni was back to the EuroLeague and back with Baskonia, where he quickly adapted again as a fan favorites. The last turning point in his career arrived in 2014, as he signed for the winningest club ever in Europe, Real Madrid. In his first season there, Nocioni proved to be the missing ingredient that the team lacked in championship game defeats the previous two seasons. He led Madrid to the title at the 2015 Final Four, held in the Spanish capital, and was voted Final Four MVP for his energetic influence on his team’s two big victories. It marked a pinnacle of his career. He has stayed in Madrid since, but this season has appeared in just 13 EuroLeague games so far. He has now decided to put an end to a brilliant and long career – much like Prigioni did a couple of months ago, but with one big difference: Nocioni will keep putting his energy on the floor until the end of the season to see if he can help Real Madrid win the EuroLeague again. He preceded his letter with a tweet saying he had made a decision about next season.
“After so many battles, I have decided to stop blasting the water bottle to the floor every time I am sent to the bench,” Nocioni wrote in his letter. “I have decided to mature, gentlemen (…) it’s over. I have to improve my manners and my habits. And since I know that I won’t ever be able to do that and change my temper, I RETIRE. I am leaving before they throw me out.”
Nocioni has played a total 170 games in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and scored 1,728 points, ranking 29th all-time. He also has pulled 748 rebounds (25th overall) and made 109 blocks (21st overall). His performance index rating career high dates back to 2003, when he amassed a 48 against Benetton Treviso, which is tied for the 11th-highest in competition history. His top scoring mark is the 37 points he netted against FC Barcelona with Baskonia in 2014, the 13th most in a single game.
“I lived as I played. I was always honest and gave my heart to every club I played for,” Nocioni said in the letter. “This is the end of the line, my friends. It was a long road, full of stones, lights, will and also great satisfactions. But I am sure of something: it was worth walking it.”