Football interviews you won't find in any magazine
You wouldn't blame Cesc Fabregas for having a lot on his mind, what with the Champions League draw meaning the Arsenal team he captains faces the brilliant Barcelona side he's regularly linked with joining. But with two NBA teams about to play in a groundbreaking London face-off, the Spaniard took time out to discuss ball-players of a completely different kind...
How big a basketball fan are you and how did you get into it?
I got into it a few years ago, because in Spain it wasn't really big. But after Pau Gasol and some of the players went there [to the NBA] it became bigger and bigger. I’ve been following them and of course it's a sport I really like, I admire them a lot and you can always learn from it.
Who are your favourite players and teams – and why?
Well, I always follow the Lakers, because they've been better for the last couple of years – and obviously Pau Gasol is playing there, and Kobe Bryant, one of the best players in the history of the NBA. I follow Toronto as well, because Jose Calderon plays there, another good Spanish player.
Which two teams do you think will be in the NBA Finals this year?
It's difficult for me to say that. All I want is that we can watch a good game and the better team can win it.
And who do you think is going to win?
I watched last year and it was the Lakers, but apparently this year they're not doing that well. It's difficult for me to say but we will have to wait a little bit more to say that.
Who is the one NBA player you would like to meet?
I was very lucky that when the Lakers came to London, I met Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. The one I wanted to meet the most was Kobe and I met him. Obviously LeBron James and Tony Parker and players like that, they are legends and I'd love to meet them one day.
Who will you be supporting at the O2 in March: the New Jersey Nets or Toronto Raptors?
Probably Toronto, because Calderon plays for them. I will be supporting and hopefully watch a good game and enjoy it.
Do you actually play any basketball?
No, I'm not very good. I prefer to watch it than play it because I don’t have great skills, so from the sofa it's much better.
If you hadn’t made it as a footballer, could you have played basketball?
No, I had no chance. I never dedicated enough time to test myself, but football has always been my priority.
If you had to compare your football game to a NBA player's game, who would it be?
That’s very difficult. A good passer of the ball... I like the way Kobe plays, and LeBron James. I don’t know if that's the same in football as my position, but I really like their job on the pitch.
And finally, are you planning to attend any of the basketball games at the Olympics?
Well I would love to if I have a chance and I’m around here; I'd love to go there because I'm passionate about sport and definitely basketball is one of them. If I can watch one of the great games they play, I’ll be there for sure.
Interview February 2011. The New Jersey Nets will make basketball history when they play the Toronto Raptors at the London O2 Arena on Friday March 4 and Saturday March 5 2011 for the NBA’s first ever regular season games in Europe. Tickets are available at www.theo2.co.uk
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