|Jersey #(s)||12, 21|
|Listed height||7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)|
|Listed weight||260 lb (120 kg)|
|Born||February 3, 1968
Prijepolje, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
|NBA Draft||1989 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26|
|Career stats (NBA)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|FIBA World Championship|
Vlade Divac (Serbian: Владе Дивац, pronounced [ˈvlaːdɛ ˈdiːvats]) (born February 3, 1968 in Prijepolje, Serbia, Yugoslavia) is a retired Serbian professional basketball player who spent most of his career in the United States' NBA. At 7'1", he played center and was known for his passing skills. Divac was among the first group of European Basketball players to transfer to the NBA in the late 1980s and was named as one of Euroleague's 50 greatest contributors. 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 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Aside from being noticed for his basketball abilities, Divac is also known as a great humanitarian, helping children in his native country of Serbia, as well as in Africa. On October 16, 2008, Divac was appointed as a government adviser in Serbia for humanitarian issues. On February 24, 2009, he was elected as the President of the Serbian Olympic Committee for a 4-year term.
He began playing basketball in his home town Prijepolje for the team KK Elan. He began his professional career in Yugoslavia playing for KK Sloga Kraljevo, and was immediately noted for scoring 27 points against Red Star . In summer 1986, he was the top star of the transfer season, signing for KK Partizan Belgrade for DM14,000.
In the same year, at the age of 18, he made his debut for the senior Yugoslavia national basketball team in the 1986 FIBA World Championship in Madrid, on invitation by the selector Krešimir Ćosić. However, the excellent rookie's performance was spoiled by the event in the semi-finals against Soviet Union. 45 seconds before the end, Yugoslavia had a comfortable lead of 9 points, but Soviets scored two three-pointers within a few seconds and cut the difference to 3 points. Yugoslavia tried to hold the ball for the remaining time, opting to continue the play with throw-ins instead of free throws following fouls, but with only 14 seconds left, Divac committed a double dribble, the Soviets were awarded the ball, and tied the score with another three-pointer. In the overtime, the Soviets easily prevailed against the shocked Yugoslavs, who had to be content with the bronze.
The next year, Divac participated in the team that took the gold at the FIBA Junior World Championship (since split into separate under-19 and under-21 events) in Bormio, Italy. That event launched the young generation of Yugoslavian basketballers, also featuring stars like Dino Rađa and Toni Kukoč, regarded as likely the best in history. Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, they would also take the titles at EuroBasket 1989 and the 1990 FIBA World Championship in Argentina, where they were led by Dražen Petrović, as well as the EuroBasket 1991 title, with Aleksandar Đorđević at point guard.
In 1987, with Divac, Đorđević, Paspalj and Obradović, and Dušan Vujošević at the helm, Partizan had a "dream team", which took the Yugoslavian league title, but failed to reach the Euroleague top the next season, having lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv from Israel in the semi-finals in Belgian Ghent. Jugoplastika with Rađa and Kukoč was a stronger team in the subsequent 3 years, reigning both in Yugoslavia and in Europe.
Divac had an unusual style for centers of the time: despite the height, he possessed good mobility, had good control of the ball and was a good shooter from distance. On occasion, he would also act as a playmaker. His trademark moves included a midrange shot at the top of the key and flip shots around the rim while facing the complete opposite direction. His quirky moves complemented how he liked playing gags on the field: in the 1989 Eurobasket, he lifted teammate Zoran Radović for a slam dunk. In just 4 professional seasons in Europe, he became the most sought-after tall player in the continent after Arvydas Sabonis.
Drafted into the NBA in 1989 by the Los Angeles Lakers and was the first pick of the Lakers that wasn't American. Divac was also one of the first European players to have an impact on the league. Under the tutorship of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, he improved his play and adapted to the American style of the game. Despite the fact that he didn't speak any English, he quickly became popular among the teammates and the public for his charm and joviality. In the 1989/90 season, he was selected into the NBA All-Rookie Team. During his time with the Lakers, Divac's popularity and marketing potential, in addition to his entertaining and good-natured personality, were picked up on by the American TV industry. As a result he appeared quite a few times on Los Angeles-based late night programmes such as The Arsenio Hall Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In 1990, he was featured in a commercial with Laker teammates A. C. Green and Mychal Thompson for the Schick brand razors company. He also appeared in American sitcoms Married... with Children and Coach, as well as in the short lived Good Sports sitcom starring Farrah Fawcett. On the big screen Divac took part in basketball based movies Eddie, Space Jam and Juwanna Mann. Later in his career, he appeared on Larry King Live in 1999 and The Late Late Show in 2002.
Divac earned a reputation for flopping, or deceiving the officials into calling a foul on the other team by purposely falling to the floor upon contact with an opposing player. Veteran NBA forward P.J. Brown claimed that Divac might have been the best of all time at flopping. Divac freely admitted doing so, adding that he usually did it when he felt like the officials had missed some calls and owed him.
He was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant in 1996 and spent two seasons playing there. During the lockout period, he played 2 games for Partizan's "eternal rival" Red Star in Euroleague season 1998/99. He then signed as a free agent with the Sacramento Kings in 1998 where he would play for six seasons alongside fellow countryman Peja Stojakovic. Along with Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic, Divac revitalized the Sacramento Kings franchise. The Kings rose in the NBA ranks, becoming a perennial playoff contender and later on a championship contender and was at one point the best team in the NBA, leading the league in number of wins in 2001–02. The Kings however, could not get past the Los Angeles Lakers, who swept them in the playoffs and beat them in a heartbreaking 7-game series in 2002.
After the 2003–04 NBA season, he became a free agent. He signed a deal to return to the Lakers and was part of a grand plan to overhaul Laker basketball. The Lakers, following a defeat in the NBA Finals, had traded away or released most of their players, including Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Derek Fisher and more; Divac was supposed to fill that void. However, Divac suffered back problems and was unable to play for most of the season, and even when he returned, was only able to play about nine minutes per game, averaging 2.3 points per game and 2.1 rebounds per game in 15 games, he played 8 games early in the season and 7 more in the final month of the season. On 14 July 2005, Divac announced his retirement, ending his sixteen-year basketball career.
The Kings retired his No. 21 jersey in a ceremony on March 31, 2009.
Over his 16 year NBA Career, Divac made over $93,000,000 in salary.
Through the evening of his playing career and afterwards, Divac focused on three fields: humanitarian work, sport management and investment, in that order of success.
In late 2000, after the overthrow of the Milošević regime, Divac and former teammate Predrag Danilović took over their former club KK Partizan. The club was a launching pad for both of their basketball careers in late 1980s and early 1990s and it was only fitting they'd now play prominent parts in its management. Divac became the club's president while Danilović took the vice-president role. Freshly retired Danilović was actually running the club's day-to-day operations since Divac was still very actively involved with the Sacramento Kings at the time.
Though the duo never stated so outright, their main motivation in getting involved with KK Partizan again was perceived to be gaining the upper hand on club's eventual privatisation process once the new Law on Sports gets passed in Serbian parliament. Since the exact ownership structure of publicly owned KK Partizan isn't really clear, potential investors decided to stay away, at least until the law appears. Divac and Danilović appeared pretty much out of nowhere in this regard but enjoyed plenty of fan and public support because most preferred to see their beloved club owned and operated by its former stars rather than a faceless corporation. However, after few years the duo ran out of patience and pulled out of the venture in late 2004 because it became too much of a financial burden with no end goal in sight. While he currently performs no official functions at the club, Divac continues to be involved with it in lesser capacity.
From 2005 to 2006, Divac was employed as European scout for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In June 2006, through his friendship with Predrag Mijatović, Divac linked up with Ramón Calderón as part of the lawyer's candidate bid for the presidency of Real Madrid polideportivo. When Calderón closely won the club elections on July 2, 2006, Divac was introduced as the head of operations at Real Madrid basketball club.
However, Divac's role in the club's day to day operations was largely symbolic, and even he himself admitted as much in a March 2007 interview for Croatian weekly Globus: "I literally do nothing and I only serve as part of the royal club's image. I only accepted the job because of Mijatović, who is currently the football director at Real".
Divac has been involved in many non-basketball endeavors while still actively playing in the NBA, and more so after he retired. 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.
The most notable affair was a highly publicized business venture—takeover bid of profitable beverage producer Knjaz Miloš. Divac's company "Apurna" in a joint venture with French dairy giant Danone ostensibly proposed the best bid, but the takeover was aborted by the Serbia's Securities Commission, because Danone/Apurna allegedly offered extra money to small shareholders. In the repeated bid, Divac and Danone eventually withdrew and the sale went to FPP Balkan Ltd., a privatization fund from Cayman Islands. The entire messy affair caused great friction within the Serbian government, wide speculation about corruption, resignation of the Securities Commission chief, and even police investigation.
Another similar, though less spectacular, episode happened with 2005 Divac's attempt to take over the Večernje novosti, a Serbian high-circulation daily. He made an agreement with small shareholders to take over the company by means of registering a new company with joint capital, which would increase the share capital. However, the Serbian Government intervened and halted what should have been a mere technical move. While the attempted takeover was a "backdoor" one indeed, it was legal and similar cases had already happened. The government ostensibly feared lack of control over the influential daily. Even through the Supreme Court of Serbia eventually ruled in Divac's favor, he withdrew from the contest, citing "friendly advice" by unnamed persons. Embittered, he decided to stop his attempts to invest in Serbia: "All of this is ugly and I'm very upset... I realized that there's no place for me in Serbia and my friends can meet me in Madrid from now on... In Serbia, some different rules are in effect, and I can't conceive them".
However, that turned out not to be true, as in October 2007 Divac got legally registered as 100% owner of Voda Voda, a bottled water brand previously owned by businessman Vojin Đorđević. That transaction was also followed by a stir of controversy, as Đorđević publicly accused Divac of deceit, asserting that he broke a gentlemen's agreement they had, and questioning the validity of the contract that Divac presented to the Serbian Business Registers Agency. The circumstances surrounding the deal (as of November 2007) are still unclear: Divac claims that he indeed loaned some money to the Đorđević's Si&Si company, which was in financial troubles, and after Đorđević failed to fulfill his part of the deal, just used the contract, already properly signed by Đorđević, to claim ownership of the company.
Divac is a proactive humanitarian worker, focusing on aid to children worldwide and refugees in his home country. Along with six Serbian basketball teammates, Divac established the charity called Group Seven, later renamed to "Divac's Children Foundation", and works closely with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), helping them to raise around US$500,000 for humanitarian assistance in Serbia since 1997. Divac's own foundation, presided by his wife Snežana, provided over $2,500,000 in humanitarian assistance through 1998–2007.
In late 2007 Divac has founded a humanitarian organization, "You Can Too" (Serbian: Можеш и ти/Možeš i ti), bent on assisting the refugees in Serbia. Serbia has around 500,000 refugees from the 1990s Yugoslav wars, making it the country with the largest refugee problem in Europe. Around 7,800 of those people still live in collective centers under poor conditions, so the organization has vouched itself to buy abandoned countryside houses, in an attempt to finally solve their accommodation problem.
On 21–23 September 2007, Divac organized an official farewell from active basketball career in his hometown Prijepolje and Belgrade, simultaneously promoting the "You Can Too" campaign. The spectacle culminated in gathering of Divac and his worldwide friends in front of 10,000 people outside the National Assembly building.
Divac is genuinely adored by most of the public in his native Serbia.
Presidential candidate Boris Tadić received a major boost when Divac backed him in the 2004 Serbian presidential elections. The two played a game of one-on-one street basketball as part of a campaign photo-op leading up to the second round runoff vote. Tadić ended up winning the election.
Back in early 1990s, the song "Vlade Divac" by Belgrade band Deca loših muzičara, devoted to his transfer to Lakers, was a big hit; the band finally got to personally meet Vlade and perform it with him on his farewell party in 2007.
Divac is in major demand for high profile marketing campaigns, even well after his playing career has ended. He regularly appears in commercials pitching products ranging from Atlas Beer to Societe Generale Bank mortgage credit plans. He recently appeared in a national TV commercial in the United States alongside former NBA star Darryl Dawkins for Taco Bell.