By Stefan Djordjevic/ email@example.com
The European basketball legend and Hall of Famer Dino Radja joined the 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network and among many topics, also talked about the modern NBA.
That conversation found its way to Luka Doncic and Radja had a certain player from his time on mind when it comes to comparisons – the three times EuroLeague champion as well as five times gold medalist with Yugoslavia, Dejan Bodiroga.
“He reminds me a lot of Bodiroga. A little bigger but a guy with huge balls and basketball talent. Huge basketball talent,” Radja said and added. “I did [expect him to succeed] but not this early. This guy showed a lot of maturity at an early age and he’s a very talented guy who works a lot. I think he made the right steps. From small minutes in Real Madrid to big minutes in Real Madrid, winning with Real Madrid and then going to the NBA. I thought he needed one more year in Europe but he surprised me.”
He also used Doncic as an example about how the NBA has changed since when he was in the league.
“My son recently asked me: ‘Did you see what Doncic did?’ Ok, let’s see. We saw this play: 7,8 seconds, 9 dribbles, 3 fakes, in the paint, and nobody comes for help. In my days? In the paint? You get killed. Certain Barkleys, Oakleys, Masons, Laimbeers cut your head off. If you fake them and go underneath them, be sure that your head is going with the ball away from the body.”
And Radja doesn’t like the change.
“The world has changed. I think the NBA became like an All-Star game where defense is not played. Numbers are pumped unreasonably. People like it, people pay for it. I don’t care about it. It’s a different era and you have to adjust to certain changes. Some things are better, some things are not. I think NBA is not because the game of basketball was much better back then. I prefer to watch a EuroLeague game rather than the NBA. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen NBA… You can do 25 dribblings, it’s all 1 against 5. Harden is shooting 50 threes a game, and they call that basketball. I don’t like it.”
The former Boston Celtic also believes that the NBA has been making mistakes when it comes to allowing players to enter the league at an early age, as they are far from ready and it’s very unique for someone to succeed so soon.
“I think NBA is making a big mistake by allowing 19-year-old kids to come to the league. Not that they are not ready only as basketball players but they’re not ready as human beings. If you give a 19-year-old 50 or 100 million, his priorities in life are changing. They cannot think, they cannot fight that, there’s a lot of family and friends who are fake and just trying to suck out money, time, focus out of them. Who succeeded at the age of 19? Not even Kobe Bryant when came into the league.”
Take a look at the full interview as Radja also talked about Split and Jugoplastika, the Croatian national team, Toni Kukoc, his NBA experience, duels against Shaq, and more.