Juan Carlos Navarro may have retired from basketball more than a year ago, but his mere presence at the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament Valencia draws whispers, finger-pointing and double-takes by fans. The legendary leading scorer in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague history is at ANGT Valencia in a new role, doing his best to help youngsters of his beloved FC Barcelona take the next step.
The 39-year-old Navarro, a Euroleague Basketball Legend who last played in the competition in 2018, is taking in the ANGT Valencia games as Barcelona's technical secretary for youth basketball.
"I am happy to be here at the L'Aqueria in Valencia, happy to be technical secretary. I am using my experience as a player to try to help in everything I can from all the years I've played here," Navarro said in Valencia. "It's a different life than I had before as a player, but it's good. I try to help with the team. We try to prepare players for the future."
Navarro assumed his new role with Barcelona in July of this year less than a year after his retirement in August of 2018, following a long, illustrious career as an icon with the club. The former team captain helped Barcelona win the EuroLeague crown in 2003 and 2010 as well as eight Spanish League crowns between 1997 and 2018.
"The intention is to prepare them not just as players, but as people, and until now we're very happy with them," said the five-time All-EuroLeague First Team member and 2009 EuroLeague MVP.
Navarro, who hails from the Barcelona suburb of Sant Feliu de Llobregat says he did not get the chances that some of Barcelona's top current youth players are getting at international club events such as at the ANGT Valencia.
"The truth is that when I played at youth levels we didn't have tournaments so impressive as this one. I only played national tournaments. But as we know, basketball is evolving and I would like to have played tournaments like these guys are playing now," said Navarro, who won the FIBA U18 European Championship 1998 and FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 1999 with Spain.
The Navarro legacy is already impressive, but he also has two daughters who are playing the game he loves.
"Like I do with these (U18) guys, I try to use my experience to teach them," he says. "But in the end, what's important with young people is that they have a great time and get better every day. I try to tell them that, to try every day to get better for the future and to always be good teammates and good people."
At least for a few more days, Navarro remains the EuroLeague's all-time scoring king with 4,152 career points. He was in attendance on Friday when Vassilis Spanoulis of Olympiacos Piraeus, who is right behind him with 4,143 points, failed to overtake him in a loss to host FC Barcelona. Navarro was there to congratulate Spanoulis if it happened.
"Vassilis, for me and many people, is a true reference," Navarro said. "Soon, he will surpass me in points, something that was going to happen one day or another. I'm very proud to be part of the history of the EuroLeague. To have a player with so much talent and such a legacy be the one to overtake me is important."