The Legendary Career of Pascal Donnadieu: A Fairy Tale in French Basketball

For the statistics, we will have to take the Nanterre club’s word for it. This Monday, Pascal Donnadieu sat for the 1,287th, and last, time on the bench of the JSF. An inconceivable journey, started in the first departmental series, ended on the verge of a semi-final of the French championship (74-90). A real page in the golden history of French basketball, greeted as it should be by JL Bourg, with a complimentary jeroboam of rosé and a nice ovation from Ékinox.

“The pride of having known a fairy tale all these years”

Pascal Donnadieu : “It’s definitely moving. JL Bourg does things remarkably well, we have always had good relationships. Their tribute touches me a lot but it doesn’t surprise me because they have real values. It’s always nice to get a standing ovation outside. I had nevertheless prepared myself a little for this stop (he smiles). It doesn’t happen to me suddenly. People talk to me about it a lot so I had integrated it. It’s difficult at first, it’s the immediate emotion but there is the pride of having known a fairy tale all these years. I was very keen to finish the final year well, it was very important to me. I have the weakness to believe that I am finishing with a good season, without being burnt out, worn out or embittered.

I have several major prides: having started from the bottom to play in the EuroLeague and having built a track record with Nanterre. It’s not for everyone… But I remember the longevity of the first departmental series in the EuroLeague, having been able to bring titles to Nanterre. I’ve always feared the catastrophic year: when it’s your baby, when you’ve started from the lowest level, there’s a different pressure because you don’t want to go down a level. It’s a source of pride to have never been relegated. But it’s not a sudden stop: in a few days, I’m leaving again with the France team! »

Benjamin Sene (leader of Nanterre): “Pascal’s story is crazy. If we had asked a film director to imagine that at the start of his career, he would have said it was too crazy… There is only respect for Pascal in French basketball, we saw him in all theaters this season, again this Monday evening. He will remain a great character in French basketball. Once we have digested this defeat, I think we can be proud to have given him this last year. But the Leaders Cup still sticks in my throat: it was the only trophy he was missing, we are reaching the final and that would have allowed him to finish in the best way possible…”

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Axel Julien (rear of the JL Bourg): “At the end of the match, I told him he could be proud of his career. It was a pleasure for me to face him throughout these seasons, to have worked with him also in the French team. I even almost signed for Nanterre. He is an emblematic coach: not only is it great to have only known one club but the way he built his teams. He was one of the first to give so much confidence to young French people. He won a French championship title when Nanterre was not at all expected. He changed the rules: during their first seasons in Pro A, we had crazy matches with incredible gunslingers. If we were in the NBA, he would easily be in the Hall of Fame! »

Frédéric Fauthoux (coach of the JL Bourg): “I am very happy with the tribute from the Bourg-en-Bresse public for his last. It’s a monument that stops. A career like his should never have existed: taking a departmental club and bringing it to the roof of Europe is quite incredible! If Netflix wanted to make a series, there couldn’t be a better scenario. Where I have immense respect for him is his ability to coach a team in the department and then later manage a team in the European Cup, or even the French team. I think he can organize master classes at La Défense, he will have many young students to listen to him. To have kept this simplicity, to be straight in your boots for 37 years and to win as many trophies as everyone dreams of… Well done, quite simply. Respect. »

Comments collected in Bourg-en-Bresse,

2024-05-20 23:08:08
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