Ali, bibigyan ng ‘tribute’ sa Game 2 ng NBA Finals

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Hindi pa ganap na kampeon ang noo’y amateur boxing standout na si Cassius Clay. Ni hindi pa palasak ang kanyang pangalan sa pulitika at sa lipunan, ngunit sa unang pagkakataon na napagmasdan ni basketball icon Jerry West ang katauhan ng bantog na si Muhammad Ali, napagtanto niya na tadhana nito ang maging ‘The Greatest’.

Nagkrus ang kanilang landas bilang amateur player sa Team USA na sumabak sa 1960 Rome Olympics at siya mismo ay nabato-balani sa katauhan ni Ali.

“I had heard of him a little bit, this kind of teenage sensation,” pagbabalik-gunita ni West. “Once you got there, my goodness, you could hear him coming from a mile away. A big smile, big personality, even then before he became a world champion. He was a magnificent person,” aniya.

Bilang pagkilala kay Ali na pumanaw nitong Biyernes (Sabado sa Manila), ipinahayag ni West, kasalukuyang pangulo ng NBA defending champion Golden State Warriors, ang pagbibigay ng tribute sa pinakasikat na atleta na nabuhay sa mundo bago ang Game 2 ng NBA Finals sa pagitan ng Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bahagi ng naturang parangal ang pagpapalabas ng video at photo montage ng three-time world heavyweight champion.

Bukod kay West, nagpahayag din ng pakikiramay at pagkilala kay Ali sina four-time MVP LeBron James at back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry.

“When an icon like Muhammad Ali passes away, it’s very emotional,” pahayag ni James.

“It’s also gratifying to know that a guy, one man, would sacrifice so much in his individual life knowing that it would better the next generation of men and women after him.

“Today I can go to China and all over the world and people know my name and know my face. I give all credit to Muhammad Ali because he was the first icon. He is the GOAT. He’s the greatest of all time and it has zero to do with his accomplishments inside the ring,” aniya.

Ikinararangal naman ni Curry na makilala ang katauhan ni Ali na kanyang hinangaan hindi lamang bilang atleta kundi bilang isang indibiduwal na may paninindigan at pagmamahal sa kapwa.

“Ali was the example of how you use your platform and speak what you believe no matter what people will say,” pahayag ni Curry. “And (I) look at him (with) a sense of confidence in that regard, for sure.”