The life of Gabriel Deck it has been dizzying, but never modified its essence. He will sign in the next few hours for three years with Oklahoma City Thunder and will be the second active Argentine in the NBA with Facundo Campazzo, but even playing in that glamorous league, traveling in private planes and with the greatest comforts that an athlete can enjoy, he will continue being the boy who will enjoy like nothing else to return to Colonia Dora, Santiago del Estero, and eat a stew or barbecue with the family.
Growing up in his home province, Deck would have a sideways view of basketball. Soccer attracted him much more. Until the brother introduced him to the orange ball. “Between my dad and a neighbor they transformed an old tractor steering wheel into a hoop and we started playing every afternoon, because in the morning I went to school and afterwards they forced us to take a nap due to the high temperatures ”, she told him Gaby to Clarín in 2018.
That teenager who was forged among the seven thousand-odd inhabitants of a town located just over 150 kilometers from Santiago del Estero, is today He is the 14th Argentine in the NBA.
Gabriel Deck with the 2018 Liga de las Americas MVP award. He dominated the continent. Photo Marcelo Figueras
While he lived in Colonia Dora, he played for the Bartolomé Miter club until he was 13 years old. At that age he had to pack his suitcases and leave his town for the first time. “Going from Colonia Dora to the capital Santiago was the biggest sacrifice I made. I had to leave all my family and friends. At school I was doing well when I was little, until I went to the capital and neglected it a bit. When you start to be a professional, you have to put many things aside because that is what you choose, “he explained in his talk with this newspaper.
Later, when he signed with Real Madrid, he reviewed in a new interview those small but valuable things that he remembered from the road traveled: “You remember when he worked there in Santiago, in the alfalfa or cleaning collectives. My career is short so far, but it’s amazing how a lot of things happened to me quickly. That’s why I think being where I am and enjoying it after everything I’ve been through is a blessing from God. ”
The first shock he experienced was to change a town for a city when he reached Quimsa, one of the most important teams in Santiago del Estero. “The transition was difficult at first. I was a small town boy and it was hard to get out to town -confessed-. Luckily in Quimsa they received me very well and I was able to make great friends. They made me feel at home ”.
When this teenager arrived at the club’s boarding house, the nickname he wears was born right away and he even has a tattoo: “Tortu“” The nickname Tortuga was given to me by a friend from Santiago del Estero when I went to Quimsa, because I was covered with a sheet and only showed my eyes. Then he said: “Look at the turtle” and there it was, he counted. That led to me getting the turtle tattoo. Even my grandmother tells me like this”.
Gabriel Deck became a key player in the Argentine basketball team. Photo REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon
It is not easy for a young man to be away from his family, especially if despite the distance he maintains a strong bond. That happened to Deck with such force that even he was about to quit basketball. “Several times it has happened to me from wanting to leave everything to be away. In fact, being here in Buenos Aires too -he confessed-. But I think it’s part of the job. That’s when you have to think and follow through with the dreams and goals you have”.
Although he is separated by more than 10,000 kilometers from his family, contact with them is daily. “I always communicate with my parents, my grandparents, my uncles … I call them, but obviously sometimes it is all very difficult. Luckily today with technology I can be closer to them virtually ”, he said at the time.
Anyway, whenever he can, he travels there. “When I go I try to stay for fifteen days. I love visiting them, it does me good and every time there is a little time I try to leave, even for a day and a half or two”, Summed up his feelings.
Deck’s growth in recent years has been overwhelming. He won the National League with Quimsa in 2015 and with San Lorenzo he took another two in 2017 and 2018. In Boedo he also conquered the League of the Americas. With Real Madrid, meanwhile, he accumulated three Spanish Super Cups, an ACB League (2019) and a Copa del Rey (2020).
Despite his dizzying ascent, he did not get dizzy: “My family is my ground wire. They always keep me with my feet on the ground. Also, my personality is like that. Thank God I’ve never gotten dizzy and I don’t think I’ll ever do it, because after all this is going to happen afterwards. Basketball is going to end and what will remain will be my person”.
Deck’s great pain: the defeat in the 2019 World Cup final against Spain. Photo WANG ZHAO / AFP
In addition to being a family member, he is in constant contact with his childhood friends, whom he never abandoned. “Every time I go to my town we get together or every time they come to Buenos Aires, they visit me. We eat, we chat, we listen to music and we catch up, ”he affirmed to emphasize his need for affection.
When he was appointed as a candidate for the various drafts that went by, even if he was not finally elected, he said, with his usual calm: “It is an enormous joy that you are named as a possibility for the draft. That the people of the NBA are watching you is a pride. That motivates you to keep working, but I took it very calmly ”, he assures.
Since his arrival in professional basketball, Tortu He had exponential growth. He enjoys it, of course. But he always knew that he had to stay focused. “At no time would I have imagined it,” he admits. “I think it all happened very quickly and I’m still very young. I was lucky that things have turned out well for me. You don’t have to lower your arms. One never stops learning and I still have many things to learn”.
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