For the second installment of our great Bill Bradley interview with Arthur Kenney, for the upcoming book INDIMENTICABILE: Cesare Rubini, un guerriero dello sport, the former U.S. Senator speaks about his relationship with coach Cesare Rubini from the negotiations to the end of the season, and with some of his Simmenthal teammates.
“I first met Cesare Rubini together with President Adolfo Bogoncelli and Ricki Pagani in Budapest in 1965 at the World University Games. They approached me and asked if I would like to play for their team, Simmenthal/Olimpia Milano. I liked them from the moment I met them and I wanted to spend more time in Italy and learn more about Italy and its rich culture. Coach Rubini and I never needed a translator. We both spoke French badly and both recognized our linguistic imperfections, so neither of us were self-conscious, so I spoke “Franglais” and he spoke a version of Frantaliano, and we had no problems communicating. When we did need to step-things-up for more official communications, Ricki Pagani was a very, very capable translator.
“I also owe a debt of gratitude to Coach Rubini because of his intervention between me and the officials when we played Real Madrid in Madrid. The officiating was completely one-sided. They called many fouls on our team on contested plays even when there was no contact. On the other end of the court they allowed Real Madrid players to get away with obvious and even blatant and flagrant fouls with impunity. It was clear that the referees were responsible for our loss by a couple of points. The complete lack of impartiality by the officials made me extremely upset since we deserved to win, and in fact, we deserved to win easily. I pursued the referees to give them a piece of my mind, when I was intercepted by Coach Rubini, who sagely, “backed-me-down.” He told me in his imperfect French, “Bill, what do you expect. One referee is from Poland and the other from Bulgaria. Real Madrid invited them to bring their families and they have been given the royal treatment. What could we expect given the circumstances! Don’t worry, we will easily overcome the deficit in our return game!” Coach Rubini was right- we did overcome the deficit and went-on to the final!
“When I would come to Milano I stayed at the Club House on Via Caltanissetta, and my housemates were Sandro Riminucci, Gianfranco Pieri and Giandomenico Ongaro among others. While in Milano, I spent a lot of time with my teammates. Sandro and I were very close, and we would go out after games. I also spent time with Gianfranco and Giandomenico. And at the center of all my great Milanesi relationships was Coach Rubini. For me it was a very, very good year, a “rich time for me!” Our administrator was Basilio Andolfo. Basilio was kind enough to excort me to the opera at La Scala where we saw Rigoletto, and that event was one of my Milanesi highlights. Another highlight was spending hours at the Pinacoteca di Brera, where I enjoyed viewing Carravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus. I could view his other version of that painting in The National Gallery in London. (2-to be continued)