Big Game, Small World
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E I G H T :  Bosnia
After coach Pesic fixed me up with a ride in from the airport, past the rubbled remains of much of Sarajevo, I finally met up with Mira Poljo. She’s a native Bosnian who years ago emigrated to Italy, settled in Bologna, and ultimately became a prosperous player agent. She showed me around her hometown, introducing me to a parade of coaches and ballplayers. Their stories were powerful testimony to how the game survived during the war.

Because she lives in the luxurious city that’s home to il derby and the sporting rivalry described in chapter six, Mira can always escape psychologically to the safety of her adopted home.

BARCELONA POSTCARDPictured here is the stuff of the Bolognese practical joke she described to me over dinner in Sarajevo. Virtus fans played the joke on Fortitudo star Carlton Myers several years ago, after Myers & Co. failed to do what Virtus did: advance to the European Final Four in Barcelona. One side of this postcard reads "Greetings from Barcelona." The other is pre-addressed to Myers and features a phony stamp. Two thousand road-tripping Virtus fans dropped cards like this one into the mail—"So," Mira pointed out to me with glee, "Myers must pay postage due 2,000 times!"

NINE: PEORIA, ILLINOIS

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