Former Brazilian basketball great Oscar Schmidt believes he can still score 20 points a game – and that in 20 minutes of action. And that at his advanced age and re-shaped body.

“If you give me 20 minutes, I will score 20 points … today! Fat like I am,” the 52-year-old said around the FIBA Hall of Fame ceremony in Istanbul at the 2010 World Championship.

“Basketball is still the same. If I have one guy guarding me, I’m free. If I have two, maybe I am free. That’s the way I think my whole life.”

“Mão Santa” (“Holy Hand”) is one of the top scorers in basketball history, scoring 49,737 points scored over his entire club and national team career. He is the Olympic Games all-time leading scorer (1,093 points in total) and three times led the Games in scoring (Seoul 1988 -averaging 42.3 points per game-, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996). Schmidt also holds the single-game scoring records in the Olympics (55 points, vs. Spain, in Seoul 1988) and the World Championships (52 points, vs. Australia, in Argentina 1990).

“I practiced so much. Nobody today practiced the way I did before. It’s impossible. Because I come to the court at least one hour before practice and go home at least one hour after practice. Every day for many, many years. Not for a period, the whole life. And nobody has this mind. To do the best of you. I go home and sleep easy because I did my best.”

The five-time Olympian and four-time World Championship participant Schmidt said he turned down five chances to play in the NBA because the NBA was professional and FIBA was amateur and he would not have been eligible to play for Brazil.

“I played for clubs to get my money. And I played for national team for free beacuse for me as a military son it was the best thing in my life was to play with national team. I was going to war. We don’t have war. The only war we had was sports. So when I go with my national team I feel like I’m in a war.”

Schmidt’s biggest feeling of war was when playing Argentina, which beat Brazil in Turkey in the Round of 16: “My team is better than Argentina, can you believe this. We want to kick their butts. And now we always lose to Argentina in tournaments. I mean come on!”

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