Water Polo And Basketball Legend Cesare Rubini Of Italy Dies At 87
On February 7, 2011, the great Cesare Rubini of Italy died at age 87. He had Alzheimer’s disease.
Rubini held the distinct and unparalleled honor of being inducted into two international Halls of Fame in two sports that could not be farther apart except for one common thread - the size of your hands. Water polo and basketball - two sports where the ability to palm and control the ball is an advantage to winning games. Whether in or out of the water, he was a winner of games and hearts. His involvement and influence went far beyond the depth of the water or the length of the court.
In the basketball arena, he made Italy an international contender. As both a player and a coach from 1941 to 1978, he won 15 Italian National Basketball Championships compiling a 322-28 record with the Simmenthal Club of Milan and is credited with developing basketball in Italy. As an administrator, he has served as a member of the Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and served as president of the World Association of Basketball Coaches (WABC) from 1979 to just a few years ago. In 1994, he was elected into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts to join, among others, Bill Bradley, a player he once coached, and fellow coach John Wooden of UCLA fame.
But, especially during his youth, water polo was his first love. Born in 1923, Rubini aspired to emulate fellow countryman and one of the greatest players in his era, Hall of Famer Mario Majoni. By the time he was 24 years old, Rubini won the coveted gold medals at the 1947 European Championships and the next year’s 1948 London Olympic Games with Majoni as team captain. The gold medal was Italy’s first medal in Olympic Water Polo history and was the beginning of Italy’s rise in international water polo. Majoni graduated to National Team Coach and Rubini to National Team Captain where he played 84 games for the national team. As captain, his team won the 1952 Olympic Games bronze medal behind the great Hungarian and Yugoslavian teams and repeated the bronze medal behind the same two teams at the 1954 European Championships. During his career, he won six Italian National Championships as a player and coach for Olona of Milan, Rari Nantes of Naples and Camogli of Genoa. He played 84 matches with the National Team, 42 of them as captain.
He knew the importance of both teaching water polo to the kids and stressing fair values and sportsmanship to the adults. He served as the inspiration for fellow countrymen and Hall of Famers Eraldo Pizzo and Gianni de Magistris and continued throughout his life promoting the sports he loved so much. Said ISHOF’s Bob Duenkel, ”Rubini was a fierce competitor who loved to win, but he was also very much a gentleman as exhibited during his visits to the ISHOF.”
FOR THE RECORD: 1948 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1952 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze; 1956 OLYMPIC GAMES: 4th; 1947 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1954 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze; 6 ITALIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: player and coach; National Team Member: 84 matches; 1994 Elected into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame; 2000 Elected into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.