Dino Meneghin reveals, “Atlanta picked me in the draft, but no one told me!”

Dino Meneghin, a legend of Italian and European basketball, was the last to pass from the BSMT by Gianluca Gazzoli. The former Varese and Milan champion, who won everything in his career including an Olympic silver medal and a EuroBasket with Italy, touched on various topics during the interview, including the perception of the NBA in his time. Social media did not exist of course, but even on TV and in newspapers there was hardly any talk about the American world. The only meeting point were NBA players who, often at the end of their careers, came to play in Italy.

Meneghin revealed that the NBA was such a distant world that, when he himself was chosen at the Draft in 1970, he discovered it only a few months later by reading the newspapers. At that time the rounds, which today are 2, were as many as 19 since the league had only 17 teams. The Atlanta Hawks spent for Meneghin with pick number 182, in the 11th round..

“I was chosen by the Atlanta Hawks in 1969-70, however, no one told me! I found out months later from the newspapers. I read ‘Dino Meneghin, chosen in the NBA by the Hawks,’ but nobody from Atlanta ever called me to invite me there and put me on the team. Zero. Then I signed with Varese. In 1974 the Knicks called me to do Summer League with them, but I had just broken my meniscus and couldn’t go. Then the company offered me a three-year deal, and not knowing anything about the NBA, I thought better three guaranteed years here than a place overseas.” Meneghin explained.

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The Blue legend then explained an interesting detail that also helps to explain the low presence of “foreigners” in the NBA at that time. The American League was considered the only form of professional basketball in the world; everything else was amateur. If a player had competed in the NBA, they would have considered him a professional and could no longer wear the jersey of their national team. “That’s why Oscar Schmidt never went to the NBA, despite having far better offers than mine.” Dino Meneghin said.

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Francesco Manzi
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