Sports in Italy in the ’60s meant either playing football or putting yourself on a saddle, trying to imitate the deeds of Coppi and Bartali.
This is the reason that a super tall, thirteen-year-old from Alano di Piave, didn’t even know what basketball was when he was first discovered by Nico Messina, the chief of the youth sector of Ignis Varese. Instead, this boy had been dreaming of a future career as an international discus thrower.
So great was the impact that he had on the basketball of the 1960s, that just three years passed from the day this boy was discovered to his debut on the Italian senior team. From 1966, and for 28 subsequent seasons, Dino Meneghin was the star of the Italian Championship.
It would be almost redundant try to describe the kind of player SuperDino (yes, this wasn’t the best era for nicknames) was, because Meneghin Sr. was, easily, the best Italian basketball player of any time.
“Have you ever seen yourself in other sports? Yes I have, in athletics: I was good as a discus thrower. I’m not exaggerating: I thought I would become the next Consolini.”
An all around Pivot (Center), Meneghin’s key strength was in his mastery of the mental aspect of the game. He was a fighter, strong and intimidating, but always fair. He was a player who was always at the service of the team; a natural born winner ready to do anything for victory.
He was also a rare example of sporting longevity. As an athlete who knew his body perfectly, he was able to change his game, evolving as a basketball player and, maintaining his attitude of working, for the good of the team.
Dino Meneghin’s palmares (record of achievements) is longer than any athlete could hope for. He won, simply, every award and championship, and far more than any comparable player.
In 1970, when American Basketball was a sport still largely unknown to many Europeans, Meneghin was the first European player drafted by an NBA team (the Atlanta Hawks), even though he had never played in the US before.
The culmination of Meneghin’s career was, in 2003, with his Hall of Fame nomination by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Association. He was introduced by his former teammate Bob McAdoo with an unforgettable speech. So, Dino Meneghin joined the Olympus of basketball.
And that is the place where he deserves to stay, in the Olympus, with the giants of the game and the best players in of the history.