Credit: Eurokinissi
Credit Eurokinissi

The news of the passing of legendary coach Dusan Ivkovic crossed the Atlantic ocean very quickly. Among the many players that the Serbian coach guided throughout his prolific career on the benches, Thurl Bailey stands out as maybe the most decorated American ever to play for him.

Born on April 7, 1961, Bailey lifted the NCAA title in 1983 with North Carolina, an accomplishment that contributed a great deal to him getting selected by the Utah Jazz at Number 7 in the NBA draft. In Salt Lake City, he spent the next 8 years of his career (1983-91), and became one of the favorite grandstand players on the team, alongside Karl Malone, John Stockton and Mark Eaton.

In 1991 would be traded to the Timberwolves and three years later, he decided that the NBA is no longer for him. In the summer of 1994 he came to Greece on behalf of Panionios where coach Dusan Ivkovic had just taken over. It was a season in which the team from Southern Athens reached the Cup final, losing the trophy to PAOK (53-72).

Credit ESAKE

"Playing for Dusan Ivkovic at Panionios was my first experience with international basketball," Bailey, now a Jazz TV analyst, motivational speaker, singer and businessman recalled when BasketNews reached out to him for a comment on the late tactician.

"I was coming from the NBA and never imagined that I would ever encounter another coach who would have the same love and passion for the game as my former coach Jerry Sloan. Dusan certainly had that!

Coach Ivkovic challenged me to not just be another American player coming across the waters to make money but to dedicate myself to my team and embrace another basketball culture," said the former forward-center, who averaged 14.0 points and 5.5 rebounds throughout his 8 years with the Jazz.

"He pushed me to be better and in the process, we became good friends. I will always be grateful for his hand in making my basketball career a special one.

Rest In Peace Coach!", was Thurl Bailey's farewell message to one of the all-time greats in European basketball history.

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