Nene does a lot for his native Brazil. He goes back every summer and donates both money and his time to charitable causes, when he retires he said he plans to return and work at a church down there.
But what he doesn’t do much is play for the Brazilian national team. He did it a couple times since he came to the NBA 11 years ago — including the 2012 Olympics in London, where he aggravated his plantar fasciitis, which lingered through last NBA season — but he’s had issues with the politics of the team as well as with the level of insurance covering the players.
When he returned with the Wizards for a game in Brazil, his country mates let them know he was frustrated — Nene got booed.
The Washington Post talked to Brazilian basketball legend and Hall of Famer Oscar Schmidt about it — and Schmidt sided with the fans (hat tip Eye on Basketball).
“That’s not my fault,” Schmidt said when asked about Nene’s reception. “Everybody knows what he’s done. If you don’t want to play for national team, don’t talk about your country. Ever.”
Nene didn’t seem bothered.
“I don’t have to defend myself because I didn’t steal, I didn’t kill and I didn’t rob.
“Sometimes people try to create a bad situation when one doesn’t exist, but I know everything was the best that could be done,” Nene continued, speaking through a Portuguese interpreter. “I’m here as an example. I know I’m a role model to many people. What I was able to conquer, the people can’t take away from me. That’s one of the reasons basketball has a problem developing in Brazil, but I’m sure that in the future it will be able to grow.”
What can we take away from this? Fans everywhere can show crazed nationalism and expect players to do anything to play for their country when most of those same people would do the exact same thing the player would in those shoes.
By the way, the Wizards lost the game to the Bulls 83-81. Derrick Rose did not play, which frustrated some Brazilian fans.