STAY AWAY FROM THE SAD!
"How others treat the CEO says nothing. But how others treat a waiter is like a magical window into the soul," Del Jones. How Javier Imbroda treated the waiters, and anyone who came to greet him, said a lot about him. Basically everything. The first time we met was in the summer of 2002. Javier was the Spanish coach and he was preparing the national team for the World Cup that was going to be held in Indianapolis. I was a beardless 29-year-old kid who trained a modest team from the province of Cádiz in the LEB Oro. It was the only time I faced him. That was a time when the national team still did not make those tours to which we are accustomed today, and their need to play preparation games and the proximity between Malaga (where they were concentrated) and Los Barrios did the rest. Before the game, I talked a lot more with Moncho López, who was his assistant at the time, but I remember seeing Javier get closer in that imposing setting that is Martín Carpena. His smile was several feet ahead of him, and he shook my hand firmly as he looked into my eyes. I do not know if I managed to hide the impression that that moment meant for me. Javier had directed more than 500 games in the ACB at just 41 years old, 10 years ago he had been a bronze medalist at the Barcelona Olympics as assistant to the legendary Sabonis' Lithuanian team, he was going to be the next Real Madrid coach and he was considered the best Spanish coach of the moment. His kindness overwhelmed me, and that mestizo accent from his native Melilla, and from the Malaga that adopted him, ended up conquering me.
Four years passed until I met him again, meanwhile I was making my way and following his with great interest. And life, so capricious, made us come together in a common project. It was in his land, a city that I arrived at with great suspicion and that ended up conquering me until I became an unconditional admirer of it. Javier's career had lost strength, his experience at Real Madrid was far from what could be expected from him and from a club with so much history; He hadn't trained for a while and had decided to lend a hand to his city's team by taking up the position of sports director. I arrived there as an assistant and he greeted me again with the kindness and closeness of that first day in Malaga. Afterwards, our treatment became a little closer and we shared a table and tablecloth on more than one occasion and extraordinary after-meals on all of them. He returned to the courts with Valladolid that same season, although he continued to help us from a distance, and we met again later in Menorca, this time in different clubs but within the same island. That was his last experience as a coach, later he dedicated himself to his business and later to politics, being a person who earned the sympathy, affection and recognition of the vast majority. Something practically impossible in that stark world. I remember with total clarity the last three times I saw him, two of them in Melilla, both circumstantially, we chatted amicably and he told me about several of his projects. Another when he agreed to my request to give a talk at the launch of a company of which I was manager. There we all saw the real Javier Imbroda, he hypnotized the audience with his glibness and charisma, with that passionate and close way of transmitting, with his knowledge and sympathy. I received the news of his illness with sadness, and I became interested in him when I had the opportunity to coincide with Mercedes, a good friend and his right hand in countless projects. Not because it was expected, the news of his death was less painful for all of us who, to a greater or lesser extent, knew him. But as he often used to say in the last years of his life: "Stay away from the sad!"