León Najnudel, the man who changed everything

He immediately wrote a letter to Horacio Seguí, a fellow coach and one of his squires in the fight to impose the competition system that would change the history of Argentine basketball.

That intimate and personal document was entrusted by Seguí to be published in the book LNB 25 years, more than a decade ago.

But it certainly shows us in León’s writing his feeling for what has been achieved and already a vision of a successful future for the internal competition and the selected team.

Here is the reproduction of a part of that letter. And you draw your own conclusions.

“… when I found out the good news I started screaming like crazy and nobody who was by my side understood anything (NdR: CAI players and leaders). When I explained to them the reason for my euphoria, they did not experience anything and it made me very sad to see for the umpteenth time that I have nothing to do here, that it is not my place, in which I cannot even share feelings with anyone, nor surprises, nor sorrows, nor joys. And it’s nobody’s fault, it’s that I already have my own story and it only matters to me and to the people who have lived with the same problems all their lives…”.

“… the new generations will be able to have better possibilities and only this fact should reward us for the work done and not expect more than that, the pleasure of having fulfilled a duty, of having fought and having achieved goals that without great love or a crazy passion they would never have been achieved. And now the next step is to forget about all the obstacles, all the detractors, all those who, due to their ignorance, in some cases, or due to their excessive desire for protagonism, in others, made the process difficult…”.

“… You have to be great enough to understand that basketball is not owned by anyone, that no one invented the handle and that the new perspective that opens up belongs to all those who make up the medium and all those who join. We need them to be many and the more they come, the sport that drives us so crazy will be.”

All of León’s Commandments are valid four decades later, since he began to evangelize Argentine basketball and a handful of parishioners accompanied his preaching.

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Who was Leon Najnudel? A visionary. A crazy man full of federal projects to make national basketball grow. According to Adrián Paenza: «León came back from the future to show us the present that should be developed for basketball to grow». For those who were lucky enough to meet him, he is that and much more. For those who did not run with the same pleasure, it was the forerunner of an idea that today allows them to enjoy this sport that gave us so much joy. Utopias ceased to be such, and dreams came true. Today, Argentine basketball embraces the indelible memory of León Najnudel

Najnudel was a player in his beginnings, but had a brief career before becoming a coach at a very young age. His first steps were taken in Altanta, before the great leap to Ferro Carril Oeste, with intermediate steps in provincial teams such as Corrientes, with which he won the title in the 1973 Argentino Juvenil, which continues to be one of the great milestones of the province.

In Ferro it was his great explosion, obtaining, for example, the bi-South American club title in 1981 and 1982, before leaving for Spain, to direct at Zaragoza, in 1983. In Spain he gave a great blow by winning the Cup with CAI del Rey for the first time in the club’s history, beating the almighty Barcelona in the final. But his heart was in Argentina, and that’s where he returned, with the National League already underway with its transition season in 1984.

The formal National League, after that year of initiation, had its premiere in 1985, and the game that officially gave the initial jump was the one played on the Obras Sanitarias field, San Lorenzo de Almagro and Argentino de Firmat. León was in charge of the initial jump, a photo that was recorded for history.

León, in addition to the two South Americans achieved with Ferro and the Copa del Rey with Zaragoza, achieved his great dream in 1989, winning his only National League. In addition, he was chosen the Best Coach of the season. He totaled more than 450 games directed in the National League.

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He was the ephemeral coach of the Argentine National Team in the South American Championship of 1985, separated later due to his disagreements with the CABB at that time, but in that single tournament he left his mark, leading a squad with an average height of 2.01 (the highest in the history of the Argentine basketball), which included two young people who at that time promised to change the future: Jorge González (2.30) and Palito Borcel (2.15), both 18 years old.

He died in 1998 due to leukemia, after fighting hard for a year. In 2000 he was posthumously recognized with the Konex Award as one of the best coaches of the decade in Argentina. Najnudel narrowly missed out on what he had helped create: international success for the team. In each triumph, each medal, there is a little bit that corresponds to it. Happy birthday teacher.

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