ROUNDBALL DAILY

Death of soccer superstar Maradona was also the loss to the NBA of an avid fan

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – JUNE 29: Diego Maradona of Argentina holds the World Cup trophy after defeating West Germany 3-2 during the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final match at the Azteca Stadium on June 29, 1986 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Archivo El Grafico/Getty Images)

By Joel Alderman

The death of Argentine soccer great, Diego Maradona, has generated an outpouring of worldwide attention, including from the segment of the media which is not generally concerned with the game also known outside the United States as fútbol.

Roundballdaily.com would be remiss if we did not take note of this loss to the sports world. It is easy for our primarily basketball publication to justify, because Maradona was an avid fan of the game, especially the NBA.

Diego Armando Maradona was born Oct. 30, 1960, in Lanús, Buenos Aires, to Diego Maradona Senior and Dalma Salvadora Franco. Ten days before his 16th birthday he made his professional debut. From there we will deviate and refer our readers to other accounts. The purpose of this article is not to summarize his career, but to relate how others, especially basketball players, felt about him.

San Antonio Spurs

In a 2019 interview with TyC Sports, an Argentine pay television sports channel, Maradona said that he began admiring the San Antonio Spurs even before they signed Manu Ginóbili, his countryman. And by the time Ginóbili retired in 2018, the soccer immortal had become a Stephen Curry fan.

Magic Johnson admired him

After Maradona’s death, Magic Johnson shared two photos of himself and Maradona on social media and described meeting him this way:

“The world lost one of the greatest soccer players that ever lived, Diego Maradona. It was one of the thrills of my life when I got to meet him. Rest in Peace my friend, and my prayers go out to his family.”

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson)

Kobe Bryant and Maradona, both now gone, admired each other

Kobe Bryant, who spent several years growing up in Italy, once said (via Vivo) “Maradona is my idol. I love Maradona. When I was young in Italy, I used to always watch Maradona when he played for Napoli.”

When Bryant died in a tragic helicopter accident last January, Maradona sent this tweet:

“Se van todos los buenos. Lamento también el fallecimiento de su hija y de los triplantes del helicóptero.

“Hasta la vista, leyenda.”

Translation: “All the good ones leave. I also regret the death of your daughter and the helicopter crew. Goodbye, legend.”

Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis of the Dallas Mavericks, although born in Latvia, also turned to Spanish for his tweet.

“Muy triste! Gracias Diego por tan lindos momentos! Abrazo enorme para toda su familia y para un pueblo que lo amó prefundamental.”

Translation: “I’m very sad! Thanks Diego for all the great memories! A big hug to all your family and for the country that loves him deeply.”

Mike Tyson

In 1986 Argentina with Maradona won the World Cup in Mexico by defeating West Germany. The same year Mike Tyson, at age 20, defeated the now deceased Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight championship. He recalled the similarity this way.

@Mike Tyson
“The hand of God, Maradona has left us. In 86 we both won our championships. They use(d) to compare the two of us. He was one of my heroes and a friend. I respected him so much. He will be greatly missed.”

Pelé

The No. 10 on his jersey was the same numeral as worn by Pelé, the Brazilian great with whom Maradona was regularly compared as the best of all time.

According to a Reuters representative, Pelé’ reacted by saying:

“Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above.”

Jared Dudley, Los Angeles Lakers

Legend!!! RIP

Alex English, Naismith Hall of Famer

Alex English, an eight-time NBA all-star with four teams, concluded his playing career in 1992 after a brief stint with Società Sportiva Basket Napoli, an Italian professional basketball club that was based in Naples. He posted this:

“Another legend lost. RIP to fútbol phenom Diego Maradona. We played for team Napoli at the same time. I was playing basketball, of course. One of the best to EVER do it.”

Luka Doncic

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic also expressed his sympathies on social media, writing DEP, an abbreviation for “Descanse En Paz” which means “Rest in Peace.”

Maradona, who looked up to Michael Jordan, was photographed wearing a Jordan Dream Team jersey while training for the 1994 World Cup.

Looked up to Michael Jordan

Maradona had his own basketball idol, Michel Jordan. He was photographed wearing a Jordan No. 9 Dream Team jersey while he was training for the 1994 World Cup. They never met, and Maradona said he regretted it.

Pope Francis

A Vatican spokesman, Mattei Brunik, said “The pope was informed about the death of Diego Maradona. He recalls the times he met him in these past years with affection, and he is remembering him in his prayers, as he did in the past days when he was informed about his condition.”

Alex English again

Alex English, whose post was related earlier, also wrote that Mardona “had that one-name thing. When you’re that big, like Maradona and Pelé, you don’t need a second name.”

What is it they say about a rose by any other name?

Descanse En Paz, Maradona!

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