By Antonis Stroggylakis / email@example.com
For now, Obradovic, the most celebrated coach in the history of European basketball, has opted to take a break for the upcoming season. It was the same decision as in 2012 when he took a year off following his departure from Panathinaikos after 13 years.
What will Obradovic’s next coaching destination be? For Serbian basketball great Dusan Ivkovic, his longtime friend and former coaching partner on the national team, the only thing that can seriously motivate Obradovic is the prospect of coaching an NBA team.
“You see, I coached Zeljko and he was my assistant, we are family friends, so I can say that I know him very well. According to this, I can also express the opinion that one real and great motivation for Zeljko to continue to work as a coach in his stable and mature years, would be to go to the NBA,” Ivkovic said in an interview for Nedeljnik, via Sport Klub.
Since he began his coaching career with Partizan Belgrade in 1991, Obradovic has won pretty much every single trophy someone in his position can win in Europe. Not once, but several times, since he has accumulated nine EuroLeague titles, dozens of domestic trophies, and multiple individual accolades.
It’s not surprising that Ivkovic believes that another stint with a European club may not be fulfilling enough for a coach who simply has nothing left to win any more in the continent.
In an interview with Eurohoops, Obradovic had said that he believes that NBA clubs aren’t trusting Europeans enough to give them head coaching jobs. He cited Ettore Messina and Igor Kokoskov’s short stint with the Phoenix Suns as examples.
Kokoskov was the one who succeeded Obradovic at the helm of Fenerbahce, joining a European club for the first time after spending 20 years in the NBA. The Serbian coach was previously the first European-born to take over an NBA team when he was hired as head coach by the Suns in 2018.
“He [Obradovic] went to America several times and will probably do it again during this ’empty’ season. I claim that the only real motivation for Zeljko would be to take over an NBA team. And it would be a great opportunity for that team to take,” Ivkovic added.
Ivkovic said that he was sure that the long negotiations between Obradovic and the Fenerbahce management would result in him staying with the Turkish powerhouse. He also mentioned that he disagrees with Obradovic’s decision to take this one-year hiatus.
“My suggestion was not to take a break again. That is not good for the coaches. When he sat for seven days with the president of Fenerbahce [Ali Koc], I was convinced that he would continue in Istanbul. However, he decided differently and surprised me with that decision,” Ivkovic said. “Then I realized that he lost many motives in Fener. There was saturation and in such situations, a new motive should be sought. In my opinion, it is the NBA.”