Posts Tagged ‘Vlade Divac’

Divac aiming for NBA return next season

Former beloved Kings center and Shaq tormentor Vlade Divac hopes to join an NBA coaching staff soon.

Former beloved Kings center and Shaq tormentor Vlade Divac hopes to join an NBA coaching staff soon.

TREVISO, Italy – This was pure Vlade Divac, awash in endless optimism while dealing with the latest in a life of personal tragedies, expressing hope he will soon return to the NBA, smiling a lot and volleying that, honestly, he didn’t get a good seat on the Spurs bandwagon because Divac is Serbian and Gregg Popovich has Serbian roots.

Divac was sitting in a chair on the baseline of one of the three gyms at the La Ghirada Sports Complex a few days ago after an appearance as a guest speaker at the adidas Eurocamp. It is a time of particular upheaval, five months after his father had been killed in a car crash in Serbia that also injured his mother, possibly a few months before he will move back to the United States to join a front office, all while serving as head of the Serbian Olympic committee as his daughter attends high school in Belgrade, one son is in college in California and another in New York. But one of the most-likable players of his or any other NBA generation seems as at ease as ever.

He grew up in the former Yugoslavia, lived through a war there that caused death and destruction all around him with the collateral damage of an emotional divide that ended friendships. He had a 16-year NBA run and a highly decorated international career. And now he is trying to get back to the future.

NBA.com: What would you like to do when you come back to the U.S.?

Divac: I would definitely find some involvement in the NBA with some team. Right after my retirement, I was doing some scouting for the Lakers. I tried to see how management works. I went to Real Madrid, worked for them for a year. That helped me to kind of develop some interest in management. So now my second term on the Olympic committee of Serbia — and I’m so proud of that, we did a great job — so something in management.

NBA.com: Have you had any conversations with anybody?

Divac: With the Kings, yeah. We’ll see.

NBA.com: What do you think you would do with them?

Divac: My ultimate goal is one day — it doesn’t have to be tomorrow or two days, three days — I want to be a GM. Go level by level.

NBA.com: Have they told you “When you’re ready to come over, we definitely want you”?

Divac: No. We just talked. I told them my view about plans. We’ll see.

NBA.com: I know it’s been a difficult time the last few months. How are you doing with the tragedy in your personal life?

Divac: OK. Life is a roller-coaster. You just have to balance. There’s always tomorrow.

NBA.com: Has it been difficult?

Divac: Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes. But when you look, there’s a lot of different stories, worse stories, than my life. What are you going to do?

NBA.com: And you’ve lived through a lot of those in your younger days.

Divac: Yeah. Absolutely.

NBA.com: Do you think you have a unique perspective, different than a lot of other people because of what you (grew up around) in your
youth?

Divac: Of course. If you went through things like that, you just learn how things can change the next day. Either positive or negative. Even when you’re so high and positive, you have to keep a balance.

NBA.com: Do you still watch a lot of NBA?

Divac: I do.

NBA.com: What jumps out to you about the game now compared to when you played?

Divac: It’s obviously more physical and faster. What bothers me is the tendency for low-post guys to not play with their back to the basket. It’s more facing. I think basketball needs that inside-outside game. If it doesn’t have that, that’s like taking heart from basketball.

NBA.com: Do you have a favorite player?

Divac: No. But I have a favorite team. I think the Spurs is a team that plays basketball the way it’s supposed to be. Sharing the ball. Gregg is a great coach.

NBA.com: What’s his background? What’s his heritage?

Divac: He’s a Serbian. But I’m not saying that because of that. You know how many people I met in the NBA. Jerry West, Gregg Popovich — that’s my two favorite guys. Even though they are totally, completely different, I have a lot of respect for them.

NBA.com: How much would your game have been changed by these new flopping rules that are in place now?

Divac: They wouldn’t take that away from me. Especially playing against Shaq. I mentioned that’s not my rule. That’s Shaq’s rule. He forced us to do that. I think it’s good that they changed because whenever you overdue it, it just takes away from the game.

NBA.com: How much money would you have been fined? How much money would you have lost over the years?

Divac: Not that much. I was doing that just against the Lakers, when I played Shaq. I don’t know. I think it’s good that they put it in. Games, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

NBA.com: You would have had to get a new contract, right, just to pay all your fine money?

Divac: The agent would make a clause. ‘The team pays the fine.’ Because I was doing that for the team, not for me.

BWB Africa: Fulfilling The Dreams

Basketball Without Borders Africa

NBA players, coaches and others attended the Basketball Without Borders camp in Johannesburg.

HANG TIME, Texas – It was just a few days after the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that Kyrie Irving saw other dreams.

They were in one of the impoverished townships outside of Johannesburg. They were in classrooms where hungry minds craved answers for a better life. They were on the basketball courts where raw talent gathered to show their skills and sought a way out. They were on so many of the faces that crossed his path during the 11th edition of Basketball Without Borders, Africa.

“In my short NBA career, I’ve had lots of great experiences,” said the Cavs’ 21-year-old point guard during a phone conversation from South Africa. “Just being in the league, winning Rookie of the Year, playing against guys that I looked up to. But being here is an amazing experience in a completely different way.

“Kids are kids no matter where you go in the world and they’re always going to get a smile out of you and make you happy. But these kids that we’ve worked with here in the camps and the younger kids that we’ve met in the schools, they seem to draw even more out of you, because of the environment they come from.

“I’ve traveled around a bit and taken part in some UNICEF programs in the past. You think you’ve seen some situations that are bad. But the poverty in Africa is overwhelming. There are levels of poverty that I’m not sure we can understand as Americans without actually having been here.

“Some of the kids knew my name, who I was, where I played in the NBA. Others didn’t. All they wanted was somebody to be with them and be there for them. That’s the way we have to approach it — help one kid at a time.”

Basketball without Borders is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and social responsibility program that aims to create positive social change in the areas of education, health, and wellness. To date, there have been 36 BWB camps in 21 cities across 18 countries on five continents.

The program has featured more than 150 current and former NBA/WNBA players and nearly 140 NBA team personnel from all 30 NBA teams as camp coaches and mentors.

The inaugural BWB camp was in July 2001 led by former NBA players Vlade Divac and Toni Kukoc, for 50 children from five nations of the former Yugoslavia. In 2013, BWB were held in three countries on three continents: Argentina, Portugal and South Africa.

FIBA and local federations help identify 50 to 65 of the top basketball players 18 and under from countries across the related continent to attend.

BWB has featured over 1,700 campers from over 120 countries and 28 BWB campers have been drafted into the NBA. There are currently 11 BWB alumni on NBA rosters: Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors/Lithuania; Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets/Lithuania; Enes Kanter, Jazz/Turkey; Greivis Vasquez, Kings/Venezuela; Omri Casspi, Rockets/Israel; Luc Mbah A Moute, Kings/Cameroon; Danilo Gallinari, Nuggets/Italy; Nicolas Batum, Trail Blazers/France; Marco Belinelli, Spurs/Italy; Marc Gasol, Grizzlies/Spain; Andrea Bargnani, Knicks/Italy.

Four former BWB campers were drafted in 2013: Sergey Karasev, Cavaliers/Russia; Kelly Olynyk, Celtics/Canada; Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves/Senegal; Arsalan Kazemi, 76ers/Iran.

Other NBA players in South Africa were: Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Hasheem Thabeet of the Thunder, Jerryd Bayless of the Grizzlies; Bismack Biyombo of the Bobcats, Luol Deng of the Bulls, Al Horford of the Hawks and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo.

NBA coaches took part, too, including Tyrone Corbin (Jazz); Luca Desta (Mavericks); Mark Hughes (Knicks); BJ Johnson (Rockets); Jamahl Mosley (Cavaliers); Patrick Mutombo (Nuggets); Monty Williams (Pelicans) and ex-Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins.

The BWB program has been a favorite of Dikembe Mutombo, who attended the first in Johannesburg more than a decade ago.

“The biggest difference that I see from when we held the first camp here is the level of play,” Mutombo said. “Back then, a lot of guys were just lucky to be able to get into the gym and show a little bit. Now they’re getting coaching, getting direction and they are giving themselves a real chance for a better life.

“We all know that it is a long shot for anyone to make it into the NBA, even more when you’re coming from the background of Africa. That’s why the real goal for a lot of these kids is to come here and attract attention and maybe get an opportunity to come to the United States for a high school education, to play basketball and then maybe to attend an American university.

“To me, that’s how we make the world, and Africa in particular, a better place. We lift these kids up, educate them and hopefully many of them will return to their countries and try to make things better.”

Irving recalled that he had learned about apartheid in schools while he was growing up, but that had not prepared him for an up-close experience with people who had lived through it.

“To me, Steve Biko and Hector Pieterson were names I read in books,” Irving said. “But here I’m walking where they walked and talking with their people. It’s had more of an impact. It makes me know that I want to come back to Africa and do what I can in the future.”

The 47-year-old Mutombo, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, rarely misses an opportunity. He had spent millions of his own dollars building a hospital in his mother’s name in his homeland and has spent more to erect dormitories and classrooms during his many BWB trips to South Africa.

“On the anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, I took time to stop and think,” Mutombo said. “I have achieved so many blessings in my life after a childhood of poverty. I achieved a dream of working and getting noticed and getting myself an education.

“I realized a dream of playing basketball for a living and having the NBA doors open for me. I realized a dream of making a fortune and being able to use it to go back home and help my people. I realized a dream to build a hospital in my country.

“We all have to dream because big things are possible, especially in a world that has gotten smaller with things like cell phones and Facebook and Twitter.

“I tell these young players that come here that we’re all connected. What Dr. King was talking about fifty years ago was not African-American dreams or American dreams. These are human dreams all over the world and every time I come here see a young player like Kyrie with his eyes wide open on his first trip, I feel like we can fulfill more.”

Hall of Fame Debate: Most Deserving

The updated rankings, following last week’s release of the nominees for the Class of 2013 in Springfield, Mass., includes one stretch and one asterisk pick, but the premise is the same as the standings from last April in the wake of the election for the Class of 2012: The order of most deserving among candidates on the ballot with NBA or ABA ties.

The fine print is important. This list does not weigh cases from the amateur and women’s game or most from the International, Early African-American Pioneers and Veterans categories. It’s NBA and ABA. And, it’s people under consideration by voters, not anyone deserving of induction. Gregg Popovich and David Stern, among others, have made it clear they do not yet want to be nominated, just as Jerry Sloan held out for years before finally agreeing in 2009 to undergo the discomfort of friends and peers saying nice things about him.

There is obviously a new No. 1 that creates a domino effect, now that Gary Payton is under consideration, and also alterations lower on the list after the inclusion of other new and renewed nominees or simply a change of thinking. Plus, Mark Jackson is off the Hall ballot after failing to get a single vote from nine panelists in three consecutive years. (Jackson was always a long shot for enshrinement – consistently good, never great – but No. 3 on the career assist list has to at least get someone away from 0 for 27.)

The outcome of the first round of voting for the North American committee, which handles most nominees with an NBA background, will be announced at All-Star weekend, with the survivors then advancing to a final layer of balloting before inductees are revealed at the Final Four. Candidates via the ABA committee face a single ballot before a maximum of one winner is named at All-Star.

1. Payton, North American committee: The Glove was selected first-team All-Defense by coaches nine consecutive times in the 1990s and 2000s, All-NBA twice and Defensive Player of the Year once as chosen by the media, and part of two Olympic golds and one NBA championship. The anonymous Hall voters have been hard lately on first-ballot nominees – Dennis Rodman went from not making finalist in 2010 all the way to being elected in ’11 and Reggie Miller had the same bounce back from 2011 to ’12 – but giving Payton the same rookie hazing would generate the largest outcry yet.

2. Bernard King, North American: He averaged 22.5 points despite two serious knee injuries, finished better than 20 a game in 11 different seasons and was also a scoring star at Tennessee, an important consideration in a process where college achievements count. King was first-team All-NBA only twice and second-team once, but he played at the same time Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Dominique Wilkins were working forwards. (more…)

Payton, Reinsdorf, Granik Top List Of Hall of Fame Class Of 2013 Nominees

Nine-time All-Star Gary Payton, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and former league executive Russ Granik are among the new Hall of Fame nominees with NBA ties, NBA.com has learned.

Thirty-one candidates are moving forward via selection from the North American committee, the section that handles the majority of the nominees from the NBA. The next step after that is judging by a nine-member panel. Seven votes are needed to advance to the finalist stage, an outcome that will be announced at All-Star weekend in Houston in February. Then, a separate group of 24 voters makes the ultimate ruling. Support from 18 of the 24 is required for induction, with the results revealed at the Final Four in Atlanta in April.

Gary Payton was a nine-time All-Star -- Noren Trotman/NBAE/Getty Images

Gary Payton was a nine-time All-Star in a 17-year career. — Noren Trotman/NBAE/Getty Images

The Women’s committee has a similar process and timing. The only difference is that the initial panel is seven voters and five approvals are necessary. Election into the Hall requires the same 18 of 24 as the North American field.

Five other categories have direct-election with one layer of balloting and a limit of one inductee per committee: ABA, Early African-American Pioneers, Veterans, International and Contributor. Six votes are required among seven ballots sent to people with a background in each area, with winners announced at All-Star weekend.

The International committee has nominated Vlade Divac and Sarunas Marciulionis, who both had long careers in the NBA, and Oscar Schmidt, best known in North America for scoring 46 points to lead Brazil past a United States team (with David Robinson, Danny Manning and several other future NBA players) to win the gold medal at the 1987 Pan-American Games in Indianapolis.

The ABA list includes Zelmo Beatty, Ron Boone, Roger Brown, Mack Calvin, Louie Dampier, Bob (Slick) Leonard and George McGinnis. A year after the induction of Mel Daniels, the Pacers have a good chance to be represented again.

Payton, a trash-talking, menacing two-way player who was named first-team All-Defense by coaches nine years in a row with the SuperSonics, is clearly the strongest candidate among the nominees with an NBA connection. Payton was nicknamed “The Glove” for his tight defense and averaged at least 20 points a game seven times. He also logged at least eight assists a game in five of those seven.

The entire list of nominees from the North American committee (which includes pro, college and high school ranks): John Bach, Dick Bavetta, Gene Bess, Maurice Cheeks, Jack Curran, Bobby Dandridge, Lefty Driesell, Bill Fitch, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Travis Grant, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Robert Hughes, Kevin Johnson, Marques Johnson (first time on the ballot), Gene Keady, Bernard King, Guy Lewis (first time), Danny Miles, William (Speedy) Morris (first time), Dick Motta, Curly Neal, Payton, Rick Pitino, Mitch Richmond, Paul Silas, Eddie Sutton, Jerry Tarkanian, Rudy Tomjanovich, Paul Westphal and Gary Williams.

Mark Jackson was removed from the ballot after not receiving a single vote in three years, despite being third on the career assist list.

Reinsdorf and Granik are candidates through the Contributor category that also includes, among 21 candidates, Al Attles, Marty Blake, Harry Glickman (first time), Del Harris (first time), Red Klotz (former Baltimore Bullets point guard best known for running the Washington Generals), Jerry Krause, Johnny Most, Gene Shue and Donnie Walsh.

The entire list of nominees is scheduled to be released today.

Past, Present Staring Down Kings

HANG TIME TEXAS, Y’ALL – These are busy, frantic times in the King-dom of Sacramento.

For a minute or two, try to forget all of the problems in trying to get a new arena and the rumors that the franchise is still headed to Anaheim. For now, there are other immediate concerns:

First off, how to replace forward/center Chuck Hayes, whose free agent contract was voided when a physical exam revealed a heart abnormality?

Matt Kawahara and Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee had the news:

A projected starter who signed a four-year, $21.3 million free-agent contract Dec. 9, Hayes was expected to play a key role in the Kings’ offense and serve as a physical, vocal presence on defense.

“We’re not going to be able to replace him,” Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie told The Bee on Monday afternoon. “He was one of the best defensive frontcourt players in the league and a really unique player we thought would facilitate some offense.

“We’ll take a look at what we can do, but it’s not going to be the same.”In a statement released Monday, Petrie said notifying Hayes of the failed physical was “one of the most heartbreaking moments of my professional or personal life.”

Hayes has undergone further testing on his heart, but specifics about his condition have not been released. Messages left for Hayes’ agent Monday were not returned.

Monday evening, Hayes posted to his Twitter account, “Thank you everyone for your prayers and support, taking the next step to get healthy and back on the court, much love.”

Perhaps fortunate for the Kings front office is the fact that one of their own, who played in Sacramento last season, is still out there on the free agent leftover pile.

As the Kings look for ways to replace Hayes, among the available free-agent big men is Samuel Dalembert, who played last season in Sacramento.Asked about the possibility of bringing back Dalembert, Petrie said: “We’ve stayed in touch with him periodically along the way. We’ll see what develops here in the next few days and go from there.”

While scrambling to fill cracks in the immediate future, the Kings would be wise to take time out to honor their past in the aftermath of Peja Stojakovic’s calling it a career by hanging his retired jersey from the rafters.

As Victor Contreras of the Bee points out, those 7 1/2 seasons that Peja spent in Sacramento were special and usually spent performing at a very high level.

He goes out as one of Sacramento’s all-time favorite Kings, a player whose No. 16 should hang from the Power Balance Pavilion rafters soon alongside the jerseys of former teammates Chris Webber (No. 4) and Vlade Divac (No. 21).

Stojakovic was the stubbly, baby-faced assassin on the Kings’ original Fab Five. Webber was the muscle inside, Jason Williams thrilled crowds with no-look passes, Divac played point-center, and Doug Christie supplied the defense.

But it was Stojakovic who killed teams from beyond the arc. He was in constant motion, flowing along the baseline like a shark, scoring on back-door feeds and hitting threes from the corner.

Worth remembering also? Peja’s fourth place finish in the 2003-04 MVP voting (24.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 48% 3-point shooting) was just as high as Webber ever finished in his best season of 2000-01 (27.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 4.2).

Vlade Divac Hearts Jan Vesely

CLEVELAND – Any excuse to talk with historically great guy Vlade Divac is great, of course. But with the Draft approaching on Thursday and Jan Vesely heading to the top 10 (and possibly the top three), suddenly Divac becomes a Vesely expert like few others.

As a member of the board of directors of Partizan Belgrade, the team in Serbia that Vesely plays for, Divac has watched the 21-year-old athletic force about 30 times the last two seasons. He has talked to him about the NBA life ahead. He has told Vesely he hopes he ends up in Vlade’s beloved Sacramento at No. 7, an outside possibility but a chance nonetheless. And in conversations with Wayne Cooper, Divac said he has steered clear of trying to influence the No. 2 man in basketball operations for the Kings, but an endorsement of the prospect undoubtedly came through.

(more…)

Kobe’s Greatest Hits, IX

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – One championship wasn’t enough for the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers. After securing their first, topping the Indiana Pacers for the crown after the  1999-00 season, they ground up the competition on their way to their second straight title.

They lost just once, to Philadelphia in the NBA Finals, the entire postseason.

Bryant was just a pup then, 22 and five years into a stellar career with a penchant for the spectacular … which explains why so many Lakers fans gravitated to his electric game.

But make no mistake, he was absolutely fantastic during the regular season, averaging a then career-high 28.5 points per game. He took his game to another level in the playoffs, though, averaging 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists (the latter two remain his playoff career highs).

Bryant’s highlights from the 2000-01 season rank among his finest to date, this is the ninth installment of our Kobe’s Top 10 Plays series. You owe it to yourself to take a look (with apologies to Bob Sura, Vlade Divac, Tyrone Hill, a young Dirk Nowitzki and all of Kobe’s other victims):

We will take another look at the Black Mamba’s Top 10 Plays every day until the 60th NBA All-Star Game, Feb. 20 at the Staples Center, where Bryant will be on center stage.

He’ll have to pull out some serious tricks to top what we’ve seen here, though.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 27, P-II)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Vlade Divac knew he had a story to tell. But for so many years, he just didn’t know if or how it should be told.

Thanks to the NBA Entertainment produced “Once Brothers,” the latest hit in ESPN Films’ acclaimed 30 for 30 series, we all get to experience Divac’s journey as if it were our own.

Divac is the narrator and one of the stars of “Once Brothers,” a fascinating film detailing the story of he and Drazen Petrovic, his former teammate on the Yugoslavian national team, their friendship and rise to NBA stardom that was destroyed by a 1991 civil war in their homeland.

Divac joined us on the Episode 27 of the Hang Time Podcast (this is part II of a special episode) to discuss the film, how it came to be and much more.

LISTEN HERE:

With their relationship strained by civil war between Divac’s Serbia and Petrovic’s Croatia, the two men who were once like brothers continued their NBA careers on opposite sides of the league, Divac in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Petrovic in New Jersey with the Nets, and opposite sides of a conflict beyond their control that their friendship simply could not survive.

When Pertrovic was killed in an auto accident in Germany on June 7, 1993, the men hadn’t spoken a word to each other in nearly two years, despite having faced each other on the court. “Once Brothers” tells the powerful tale of their rise as the first two European players to earn NBA stardom, the demise of their friendship and Divac’s attempt to deal with the fallout.

It’s a must see!

“Once Brothers” airs tonight on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s new All Ball Blog and your host Sekou Smith on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 27, P-I)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – As best you can remember, Michael Jordan had no equal during height of his NBA powers.

And that includes those who played during his era, in addition to those that came before and have come after him.

But what if your theory wasn’t necessarily supported by the facts, by research and by the historical context we all need to form the most basic of rants seen in the comments section here at the hideout?

And speaking of historical context, we dialed up the best in the basketball business for Episode 27 of the Hang Time Podcast in Bethlehem Shoals (Govt. name – Nathaniel Friedman) of FreeDarko to help us decipher suburban legend (hey, not everyone is from the city) from facts while also searching for some perspective on the past, present and immediate future of the game we all love.

LISTEN HERE:

Shoals and the crew at FreeDarko have already done the extensive research required  for a lively debate. You can pre-order your copy of their latest book, FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History, which is set for an Oct. 26 release.

In our boldest and most ambitious effort to date, the HTP crew decided that one isn’t always good enough. So we commissioned a two-part show this week with a historical theme for all you basketball purists around the globe. Don’t miss our conversation with former Lakers and Kings star Vlade Divac, who is adding film star to his lengthy list of accomplishments on and off the court with his star turn in the gripping film “Once Brothers.”

The NBA Entertainment produced film, which is a part of ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series, tells the tale of Divac’s and Drazen Petrovic‘s friendship as stalwarts on the Yugoslavian national team, their rise to NBA stardom and the bitter end to their friendship at the start of a civil war that tore apart the fabric of their relationship and homeland.

CLICK HERE FOR PART II: XXXX

“Once Brothers” airs tonight on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s new All Ball Blog and your host Sekou Smith on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Stars Headed To The (FIBA) Hall

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The National Teams from the United States and Turkey won’t be the only big time ballplayers on display in Istanbul today.

They’ll have a little company from a few familiar faces. A 17-member Hall of Fame class will get the red carpet treatment at the gold medal game of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

Cheryl Miller, Arvydas Sabonis and Vlade Divac headline the group that will be inducted into International Basketball Federation’s Hall of Fame for their achievements at the Olympic Games, world championships and developing the global game.

Sure, it’s been a while since you’ve seen any of the three headliners go to work on a court. But don’t forget how ridiculous they were in their primes:

CHERYL MILLER

You can start the debate about the greatest player the women’s game has seen, but it has to start with Miller’s name at the top as far we’re concerned here at the hideout. Her game was far ahead of its time. She was not only a dominant scorer but always the best all-around player and athlete on the floor.

Miller won 1984 Olympic gold with the U.S., a world title two years later and is believed to be the first woman to dunk in a high school game. Miller won two NCAA championships at USC and later became head coach, and you know all about her outstanding work as part of the TNT and NBA TV families.

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ARVYDAS SABONIS

We feel for those of you that only remember Sabonis as the human tank of a center for the Portland Trail Blazers during his NBA days, because he was so much more than that.  The Lithuanian born Sabonis won the Euroscar Award (the best player in Europe) six times during his professional career there. Sabonis won Olympic and world titles with the Soviet Union, then led his native Lithuania to two Olympic bronze medals.

He didn’t come to the states until he was 30, and still had a distinguished career with the Trail Blazers. He was runner-up for Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year in 1996 while starring on Portland teams that made the playoffs in all seven of his NBA seasons. But there was a healthy debate in the 1980s, when Sabonis was winning all of those Euroscar Awards that he, and not Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, was the best player in the world.

VLADE DIVAC

Easily the most flamboyant of the three headliners, Divac helped Yugoslavia win two world titles and two Olympic silvers, losing to Sabonis and the Soviet Union in 1988, and at the 1996 Games in Atlanta to a United States Dream Team. The president of Serbia’s Olympic Committee, Divac is best known to NBA fans for an NBA career that spanned 16 seasons.

He played in the NBA from 1989-05, including twice with the Los Angeles Lakers. He had his No. 21 jersey retired by the Sacramento Kings, Drazen Petrovic is the only other European born and trained player to have his jersey retired by an NBA team (New Jersey). Divac is one of six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots, along with current or future Hall of Fame big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon.

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