Credit: AP – Scanpix | BasketNews iliustracija/E.Alšauskas
Credit AP – Scanpix | BasketNews iliustracija/E.Alšauskas

Zeljko Obradovic had just begun a training camp with Yugoslavia's national basketball team back in 1991 when he received an offer that would change everything. His career, his club's fate, and, actually, the whole picture of European basketball.

He received an offer to become a head coach.

What happened later, we all know. However, how it all started, is a story not heard before.

Zalgiris Kaunas bench boss Jure Zdovc sat down with BasketNews and shared the story about Obradovic's becoming the head coach of Partizan Belgrade.

According to Zdovc, Obradovic was the main contributor who shaped him as a basketball coach. Playing together and being the roommates built a great relationship between the two.

They both won silver medals in the Seoul Olympics (1988) and captured gold awards in the FIBA World Cup 1990 with Yugoslavian NT.

So in 1991, they were starting preparations for Eurobasket. The training camp just opened in Belgrade when Zeljko was approached with a surprising offer.

"We were in Belgrade preparing for Eurobasket 1991 in Rome, and Dragan Kicanovic, the former best player in Yugoslavia (and then vice-president of Partizan), came to the practice and gave Zeljko the offer to become Partizan's head coach," told Jure Zdovc in the interview.

Zeljko Obradovic was convinced to take over the team, missing the opportunity to be the captain for the victorious Yugoslavian squad in EuroBasket 1991.

While Zdovc became the European champion in that year, Zeljko won the EuroLeague a year later (1992) as a debutant head coach.

"He won the EuroLeague next year. I was playing in Bologna that season, we played each other in the quarterfinals, it was really fun," Zdovc commented on the special duel.

Obradovic now is a 9 time EuroLeague champion as a head coach, the most in Europe by a mile. And it all began with that surprising offer in a training camp.

Watch the full interview:

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2022-01-10
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