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English: Vlade Divac (#12) and Drazen Petrovic with the Yugoslavia national team during the 1990 FIBA World Cup held in Argentina - (Public domain - Author Unknown photo)

 

 

 

Jerry West

 

Kobe Bryant - (NBA - photo)

 

 

SPORTS NOTES - VLADE DIVAC 2 BASKETBALL HALL of FAME WITH A MONKEY ON BACK

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

When being interviewed by the scribes at the Basketball Hall of Fame event the media's procedure was to offer up a few softball questions and comments to Vlade Divac and then serve up the curve ball question that hit him in the juggler. That curve ball question was…. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE LAKERS TRADING YOU FOR KOBE BRYANT?

 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

THE GO 4 THE JUGGLER MEDIA

You would think there would be more to talk about and credit Vlade Divac in his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame (HOF). What was to be a day to celebrate and remember forever as a highlight in his career turned out to be a Pearl Harbor Sneak Attack regarding on July 1, 1996, when the Lakers traded Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant.

When being interviewed by the scribes at the event their procedure was to offer up a few softball questions and comments and then serve up the curve ball that hit him in the head. That curve ball question was…. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE LAKERS TRADING YOU FOR KOBE BRYANT?

After a gulp, the Serb tactfully replied that he also would have traded for Kobe himself. Ironically trading players is the position he is currently in as vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Sacramento Kings. He sighed and added to the interviewer that (regardless) he was here now (being inducted into the HOF.)

Divac had a 16 year NBA career while playing for three teams... the Lakers, (8), the Charlotte Hornets (2) and the Kings (6). In the 1989-90 season, he was selected into the NBA All-Rookie Team. On July 1, 1996, Divac was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant and played two seasons there until signing with the Sacramento Kings in July 1998. It was the Kings where Divac found his home and his Lakers past was a long distance behind him.

Former Lakers GM Jerry West who signed Divac after drafting him in 1989 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26th overall was also the individual that made the Divac for Bryant trade.

In an interview as he was entering the HOF ceremonies West was ambushed by a journalist who served up the BIG ONE. What did he think of his trading Divac for Bryant?

Again another gulp and he basically sidestepped the hardball and stated that Divac went on to have a credible NBA career.

The 6 ft 10.50 in (2.10 m) center is one of seven players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, and 1,500 blocked shots, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, and Hakeem Olajuwon.

He is one of seven players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, and 1,500 blocked shots, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Divac was also the first player born and trained outside the United States to play in over 1,000 games in the NBA.

The twist is Divac achieved more than a strong NBA carrier he did something with his life by educating himself and having the smarts to qualify for the Kings job.

Aside from being noticed for his basketball abilities, Divac is also known as a humanitarian, helping children in his native country of Serbia and in Africa. In October 2008, he was appointed as government adviser in Serbia for humanitarian issues. In February 2009, he was elected President of the Serbian Olympic Committee for a 4-year term and re-elected in November 2012. In 2013, Divac received an honor from the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

When I first interviewed Divac in his rookie year at the Lakers media day he COULDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH! It was done through and interrupter. That did not qualify for a radio report.

When I spotted West after a game in the Lakers locker room I asked him what did he think of and why did he sign Divac. Rather than receive a professional answer he squealed, "EVERYBODY KNEW ABOUT VLADE," as he was immediately scooted off by the (since fired) media boss John Black. West's abrupt response also failed to qualify for a radio report.

As fate would have it West was a speaker at our Southern California Broadcasters Association luncheon when the question came up again... why did he trade Divac for the then high school player Bryant.

Again West displayed being uncomfortable and emotional as he explained that when the Lakers tried out Bryant and others but he (the kid) outplayed every other player they looked at.

Well despite West's emotional outbursts and actions he proved to have made and incredible and correct decision. That trade is indicative of why West has earned the reputation of being a genius basketball executive to compliment his own stellar NBA career and induction to the HOF, it's his emotional instability that often comes into question.

As great as this trade turned out to be the twist is Divac's career has a monkey on its back regarding the Bryant trade. It's similar to the great football career of Zinadine Zidane. Zidane's that is outstanding but marred because of his head butt on Italy's Marco Matterazzi in the 2006 World Cup. Zidane's career will also be tainted and remembered for his head butt on Matterazi as much as his playing achievements.

Divac now speaks plenty of English and his communication skills are impeccable. He is wise and a businessman being the owner of several businesses. He is an active restaurant investor in the Sacramento, California area. However, his attempts to make major investments in Serbia failed, for a variety of reasons. Fortunately his achievements came before the Trump anti foreigner regime.

Divac's success helped pave the way for other foreign players to play in the NBA. In a taped HOF interview with former Kings teammate Peja Stojakovi? who said, Divac was the trendsetter for European players to play in the NBA.

During Divac's rookie season I was doing a series on International players in the NBA and college levels. At that time I asked former and then present NBA payers their opinion on the quality of European players. Most notably Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn said Europeans had good offense but lacked defensive skills. It was Divac's success that helped break that mold.

The now 51-year-old Divac may go down in history as a trivia question… who did the Lakers trade for Kobe Bryant. That being what it is Divac has carved out his own mark in sports trivia history… who was the first European to be the GM of an NBA team? The answer is not Kobe Bryant but it is… Vlade Divac.

DIVAC'S NBA ACHIEVEMENTS:

Named to the 1989-90 NBA All-Rookie First Team after averaging 8.5 ppg and 6.2 rpg for the Lakers

Appeared in the 1991 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls and averaged 12.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 2.4 apg in 121 career NBA Playoff games

Ranks 4th in Lakers franchise history with 830 blocked shots

Ranked 2nd on the Kings in scoring (14.3 ppg), rebounds (10.0 rpg, 10th in the NBA), assists (4.3 apg) and blocked shots (1.02 bpg) in 1998-99

Ranked 12th in the NBA in field-goal percentage (.503) in 1999-2000

Named NBA All-Star, 2001

One of only five basketball players born and trained in Europe to play at least 1,000 NBA games (1,134; along with Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Boris Diaw)

One of only four basketball players born and trained in Europe (Peja Stojakovi?, Dražen Petrovi? and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are the others) to have his number retired by an NBA team


 

NBA's 50 GREATEST PLAYERS of ALL TIME LIST

On October 29, 1996 In conjunction with the NBA’s 50th anniversary celebration, the list of The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History was announced. It included: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nate Archibald, Paul Arizin, Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Dave DeBusschere, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Hal Greer, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Earvin Johnson, Sam Jones, Michael Jordan, Jerry Lucas, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, Bob Pettit, Scottie Pippen, Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Bill Russell, Dolph Schayes, Bill Sharman, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens, and James Worthy

 

THE NBA's GREATEST of ALL TIME
1st Team
Position
2nd Team
Larry Bird
PF
Elgin Baylor
SF
Julius Erving
Bill Russell
C
Wilt Chamberlain
Michael Jordan
SG
LeBron James
Magic Johnson
PG
Oscar Robertson
11th & 12th MAN SUBSTITUTES & Coach
C/F
C
Coach

 

 


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