Credit: SIPA, Imago Sport – Scanpix
Credit SIPA, Imago Sport – Scanpix

Toni Kukoc could have signed with FC Barcelona in the summer of 1990. It is not April, and this is not a joke. This is a real story that legendary coach Bozidar Maljkovic explained this Thursday on the “Damintage” section of RAC1.

Maljkovic arrived in Barcelona in 1990, after winning two consecutive European titles with the unforgettable Jugoplastika Split. He replaced Aito Garcia Reneses as a coach, while the Spanish mastermind became the General Manager of the Catalan club. 

“After the European Cup final in Zaragoza, Barca’s fans yelled at me from their buses, asking me to come. I really wanted to. I have already won everything at home, so I wanted to prove I could do the same in another country”, Maljkovic began. 

The Serbian coach tried to bring Toni Kukoc with him from Split, and there was a deal between both parts, but Aito had other plans. 

“When I signed with Barca, two coaches told me Aito was going to be a problem. They ensured he was going to work against me. I could not believe it at first, but it finally was. 

I spoke with Kukoc, we reached an agreement… but Aito did as much as he could not to sign him”, said Maljkovic.

Even it happened 30 years ago, Maljkovic is still disappointed about Aito’s behavior. 

“He worked against the club, I do not know why. He boycotted me, you just need to take a look at the roster I had. We also tried to add Paspalj, we had enough money… but he did not want to”, he added. 

Apart from that great anecdote, Maljkovic reminded how Drazen Petrovic landed in Zagreb rather than in Belgrade. It was after an intense final between Cibona and Crvena Zvezda. Bozidar was Ranko Zeravica’s assistant coach at the Serbian powerhouse. 

“Referees were bought by Cibona. I do not want to talk a lot because one of the refs is dead now, but it was really embarrassing. Drazen decided to move to Cibona once they beat us, as he wanted to play in the European Cup.” 

Finally, asked about his stage as Jugoplastika’s head coach (1986-1990), Maljkovic revealed a conversation he had with Dino Radja.

“Dino has spoken in the media about how Jugoplastika might have signed an unknown assistant coach from Belgrade. It took me a while, but I convinced all the players.

We had enormous talent and a great work ethic. We were growing up little by little until we conquered Europe”, he concluded. 

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3-pointers this season

Points made: 8,2
Accuracy: 38,7%
Place in standings: 9
Record max: 14
Record min: 3
Most made 3FGs: Nikola Mirotic