Andres Nocioni hails Real Madrid in his final season

Accompanied by the trophies that he has won and a replica jersey presented by his Real Madrid team-mates, Andres Nocioni was emotional but called his career with the Liga Endesa giants ‘an honour’.

The Argentinian forward was honored by Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez on Tuesday as Nocioni announced that he would be retiring after the end of this season.

In an illustrious career spanning 21 years, the 37-year-old forward enjoyed three spells with Baskonia and a season with Manresa. Nocioni also spent eight years in the NBA where he played for the Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers.

“I want to thank Real Madrid for this tribute, it has all got a bit out of hand, I didn’t imagine that there would be a tribute of this scale,” Nocioni admitted.

“Everything that I’ve done in my career has been done naturally, nothing has been staged, it’s all come from within. I want to thank the president for welcoming me onto the stage in this manner and everyone who was involved in preparing this tribute, and the team for having given up their afternoon off to be with me here, the coaching staff, the physios, the doctors, the team delegate and everyone from the club who have been with me during my time here. I also want to thank all of the clubs I’ve played for, in particular Baskonia and the Chicago Bulls.”

During his eight years in the NBA, Nocioni averaged 10.5 points a game while shooting an impressive 43 percent from the field. He was recognised as a dead-eye shooter and known for his tireless work ethic.

Internationally, Nocioni was known as one of Argentina’s golden generation, along with Manu Ginobili, Louis Scola and Carlos Delfino. He won Olympic gold in 2004 in Athens and scooped three further gold medals in championships held in South America. He captured a silver at the 2002 FIBA World Cup in the United States as well as a bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

But it was domestically in Spain where the Argentine enjoyed his greatest success. A three-time ACB champion and four-time Spanish Cup champion, Nocioni was named the ACB MVP in 2004 with Baskonia which propelled him to the NBA.

With Real Madrid, who could forget his Final Four performances in 2015 which earned him MVP honours, as well as guiding Madrid to the continental crown.

Andres Nocioni celebrates winning his Final Four MVP award when Real Madrid captured the EuroLeague title in 2015. Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

“Coming into an institution like Real Madrid has shown me that it has many values,” he explained.

“I believe that it’s difficult to criticise that fact. I’ve been welcomed to Real Madrid as if I was one of you and I’ve been made to feel like a part of this club. Both me and my family have been treated well, with real respect. I’ve been taken in as if I was one of you and I’ve been made to feel a part of this club. As for the values, I believe that the Real Madrid values are great and I’ve got no issue in saying so.”

But as the season winds down, Nocioni reflected on what was an honour to be part of one of basketball’s biggest clubs.

“It’s an honour to be retiring here,” he said.

“I’m 37 and never did I think that I’d retire in this way. Never did I see myself continuing to play and not wanting to finish. One of the things that has made me retire is because I’m at a team like Real Madrid. It has been a pleasure, the whole thing has been a pleasure. I’m happy to be here because although I spent only a few years here, you’ve offered me your affection and given everything I needed to focus on being a basketball player. I did my job, I felt at home and that’s also why I’ve performed well here.”