“We talked about the European championship and in 1969 there was the great success of the team Vysoké školy Praha in the Cup Winners' Cup. Could you recall this part of your career?” – “It was very pleasant, the match took place in Vienna. I do not know exactly, I can find the result, we won by five or seven points.” – “By six points. 80:74.” – “By six points. This match had the drive you hinted. Here it, perhaps, definitively was because Dinamo Tbilisi was a part of USSR and to a certain degree it represented USSR and we took it as a victory over the occupants as well, absolutely. At that time, all matches were understood in this way – ice hockey players. Those were events which did not only take place in front of TVs but also in the streets. We all do remember it very well.”
“Sometime after 1948 my dad had some problems because his brother was in some, allegedly, based on the information I have, in some weird show trial and he was accused and later sentenced to 13 years in prison. It of course left a deep feeling of injustice in my father because the whole time he was convinced that it was a mistake and that it was unjust. This was also the reason why he left his work in a statistical office because he somehow had some quarrel with the Party which he joined before 1948 and he refused to continue to be its member. He returned the membership card. It was followed by the transfer to the Czech Railways in the position of an ordinary workman.”
“I came across basketball at a grammar school, there was a very good PE teacher, the professor Stanislav Škoda. We called him the professor but he was only a grammar school teacher. First, I started to do gymnastics under his lead but he coached most of sports. After one of those gymnastic trainings – because it was organised even outside the school lessons – he offered me to stay for basketball as well and I had never played it before. There it all started and it was even in the second grade, so actually in the end of nineth grade and in the beginning of the tenth grade. And because he probably liked it, he got me a contract with a real basketball team. And it was Dynamo Praha, previously called Slavia Praha. Then they somehow changed it to Dynamo, there was some reorganization, I do not know much about that today. There I played competitions for the first time.” – “Did you like basketball immediately or did it take some time and effort?” – “I liked it immediately. I was a very easy material regarding persuasion and forcing into the training. I never had any problem with it.”
„Maybe you remember that the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 were interrupted because of the attack of Palestinian terrorists on Israeli Olympic team. Could you recall this?” – “I remember it very well, because one just cannot forget this. Its aftermaths were visible not only at the Olympic Games but also in the Czechoslovak Olympic team, in our national basketball team. I remember some players – or not some players, specifically Jirka Zedníček, he had always been more radical, proposed to immediately cancel our participation in the Olympic Games. That there was no meaning in continuing to play. Of course, it did affect us all, because these are the things that do not belong there. And it was…it was dreadful.”
This match carried a sense of retaliation for the occupation. They won it
Jiří Konopásek was born on 16 April 1946 in Prague-Střešovice. Both of his parents did sport, his father worked as an employee of a statistical office. After 1948 the communist judiciary sentenced his uncle Karel in a show trial to 13 years in prison for a high treason. Jiří Konopásek’s father considered it to be unjust and resigned his membership of the Communist Party in protest. He left his job in office and worked as a workman at the Czechoslovak State Railways. His brave stance on it did not affect his family, all three children were admitted to a grammar school. Jiří Konopásek started to play basketball professionally no sooner than he was fifteen years old. As a junior he transferred to the team Vysoké školy Praha with which he won the national championship six times and once the European Cup Winners’ Cup. With the Czechoslovak national team, he took the sixth place at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976 and the eight place at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 where he and the whole national team was shocked by the terrorist attack of Palestinian commando on Israeli Olympic team. He won the bronze medal at the European championship in 1969 and 1977 with the Czechoslovak national team. He graduated from the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport at the Charles University and after ending his active sport career he worked as a coach and even as a university lecturer. He married his friend from youth who had lost her husband in an aircraft accident. They had two children together, a daughter and a son. They also raised a child from her previous marriage. In 2021 Jiří Konopásek lived in Prague.