By Eurohoops Team / firstname.lastname@example.org
Coach Dusan Alimpijevic is about to wrap up his debut Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season on the Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade bench.
Even though Zvezda has not been able to reach its goal of returning to the EuroLeague playoffs, life has already taught Alimpijevic that there is a big difference between professional disappointment and true tragedy.
Eight years ago this month, on the night of March 7, 2010, Alimpijevic was an assistant coach for KK Novi Sad, two days away from his 24th birthday, when the team’s bus crashed while heading home from a Serbian League victory over Napredak Krusevac. Alimpijevic remembers little of the accident that left him hospitalized for more than a month and took the lives of head coach Nemanja Danilovic and 19-year old player Nenad Grozdanic.
“Life shakes you up and you start to think about things in a different way,” said Alimpijevic, now 32. “You mature rapidly, and it is an enormous emotional shock.”
Both Danilovic and Grozdanic fell into comas after the car accident and never woke up. Grozdanic passed away after 35 days and Danilovic, who was 39, died in October of that same year.
“We who survive don’t matter in this story,” Alimpijevic said recently. “The only ones who matter are the families of Nemanja and Nenad. They hurt the most, they suffered the most. Their fight, their pain, all that they had to endure was huge. Our fights, compared to theirs, were minor.”
Alimpijevic was in the passenger seat in an accident where a passenger sitting behind him and the driver both lost their lives. Alimpijevic miraculously survived: “I absolutely do not remember anything about the accident. The first thing I remember is waking up and paramedics and players tearing apart the seat trying to get me out of the van. They had to cut the vehicle to get me out.”
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