Predrag Danilović

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Predrag Danilović
Partizan NIS Belgrade
Position President
League Serbian League
Adriatic League
Eurocup
Personal information
Born (1970-02-26) February 26, 1970 (age 44)
Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia
Nationality Serbian
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school Cookeville (Cookeville, Tennessee)
NBA draft 1992 / Round: 2 / Pick: 43rd overall
Selected by the Golden State Warriors
Pro career 1988–2000
Position Shooting guard / Small forward
Number 5
Career history
1988–1992 Partizan
1992–1995 Virtus Bologna (Knorr/Buckler)
19951997 Miami Heat
1997 Dallas Mavericks
1997–2000 Virtus Bologna (Kinder)
Career highlights and awards
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Predrag "Saša" Danilović (Serbian Cyrillic: Предраг "Саша" Даниловић), usually referred to in English as Sasha Danilović (born February 26, 1970), is a retired Serbian professional basketball player, considered one of the best European shooting guards during the 1990s. Danilović was voted Mister Europa Player of the Year in 1998, and was Italian League MVP the same year.

Since 2007, he has been the president of Partizan, the club with which he spent six years as a player during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Sarajevo to a family of Herzegovinian Serbs (father Milan from Orašje Zubci village near Trebinje and mother Vuka from Kukričje village near Bileća),[1] Danilović grew up in the Alipašino polje neighbourhood near the RTV Sarajevo main building.[2] Already well versed in streetball, he started playing organized basketball in Bosna's youth setup where he was coached by Mladen Ostojić. The player's talent was evident from the start and it didn't take long before he started receiving attention from bigger clubs such as Partizan whose assistant coach Duško Vujošević spotted the youngster at the inter-republic youth basketball cup where Danilović represented SR Bosnia-Herzegovina squad.

By late 1985 Vujošević started courting the 15-year-old. Getting Danilović and his parents to agree to a move to Belgrade proved to be the easy part; the real challenge was getting his club Bosna to sign off on the transfer. Danilović wasn't under a professional contract with the club, but according to Yugoslav Basketball Federation (KSJ) rules, being a youth system prospect he needed his club's permission to complete the move. In Danilovic's own words: "Bosna people weren't too keen on me at all while I was there and they even planned on sending me out on loans to other Sarajevo-area clubs, which I didn't want at all. But then Vujošević started sniffing around, and they suddenly wanted to keep me. Also, Bosna's president Mirza Delibašić and Partizan's vice-president Dragan Kićanović were good friends from their playing days so that created awkwardness as well and the whole thing dragged out for a while".[1][3]

Since Bosna didn't seem willing to let him go, by summer 1986 Danilović and Partizan decided to act unilaterally as the player moved to Belgrade knowing full well he'd have to sit out a year before taking part in official competitions. The move marked the beginning of a long friendship and professional relationship between Danilović and Vujošević with the 28-year-old coach initially acting as mentor to the 16-year-old player. By now Vujošević also moved up in Partizan hierarchy, becoming a head coach in place of Vladislav Lučić while young Danilović trained with the first team as well as individually. Faced with the unfortunate situation, Danilović could only practice with Partizan, which he did vigorously and devotedly up to 7 or 8 hours per day. He later said that it wasn't until his arrival at Partizan that he started training seriously. His living arrangements were provided by the club; they put him up in a room at the JNA Stadium that he shared with teammate Oliver Popović before moving to Hotel Putnik in New Belgrade for a short time and eventually getting his own apartment in Blok 45 that he also shared with Popović. Furthermore, the club enrolled him in the streamlined technical high school, but unable to make the classes due to long and frequent practices he soon switched to part-time education at the streamlined touristic high school.[1] Discussing his first days in Belgrade and arrival to a new club, Danilović later said:

Simultaneously KK Partizan tried to obtain permission to officially register their new player while Bosna for their part launched a process against the player with KSJ, which ruled in their favour, and young Danilović had another year added to his ban from playing competitive basketball for any age group within Partizan's system.

Faced with new developments over the length of his ban, in the summer of 1987, 17-year-old Danilović moved to Cookeville, Tennessee where he enrolled at Cookeville High School, however only seven months later he went back to Belgrade. After coming back from the United States, Danilović got included in the Yugoslavia under-18 national team that competed at the European under-18 Championship on home soil in Titov Vrbas and Srbobran. Coached by his mentor Vujošević and playing alongside promising Yugoslav juniors Arijan Komazec, Žan Tabak, Rastko Cvetković, etc., Danilović led the team to the gold medal.

Club career[edit]

Partizan[edit]

In the summer of 1988, Danilović's two-year ban finally expired and the player was free to suit up for Partizan. Already familiar with the players he practiced with for more than a year, the 18-year-old joined the roster laden with talent at all positions — 21-year-old point guard Saša Đorđević, 22-year-old forward Žarko Paspalj who could play both the three and four positions, 22-year-old small forward Ivo Nakić, 20-year-old versatile center Vlade Divac, and his 21-year-old backup Miroslav Pecarski as well as a pair of experienced 28-year-olds: backup point guard Željko Obradović and backup center Milenko Savović. Starting small forward Goran Grbović who often also played the shooting guard position left the club for Oximesa that summer, which opened up space for incoming Danilović. Coming off the season in which they made the Euroleague Final Four (losing to Maccabi in the semifinal) and lost to emerging Jugoplastika in the Yugoslav League playoff final, the young Partizan team was looking to reclaim the domestic league title.

Young Danilović immediately got big minutes at shooting guard, putting in a great debut campaign. Partizan finished the regular season in first place with a 16-6 record, same as Jugoplastika, but with better basket difference, meaning the Belgrade club would have the home court advantage in the playoffs. Winning both cup competitions that season - the Korać Cup and the Yugoslav Cup - came as a great confidence boost for the young squad. The two trophies came in quick succession as Partizan played the first leg of the Korać Cup final away versus Wiwa Vismara Cantù losing by 13 points, before going to Maribor to play Jugoplastika in the Yugoslav Cup final and winning 87-74 and finally the return leg of the Korac Cup final on home court in Hala sportova and winning by 19 to overturn their first leg deficit and taking the trophy. Back on the domestic league front, in the playoff semifinal, Partizan easily eliminated crosstown rivals Crvena Zvezda, setting up the final rematch with Jugoplastika that won that season's Euroleague in the meantime. The best-of-three final series started in Belgrade, but right away Partizan lost the home court advantage by losing the opening game 73-74. The series shifted to Split where Jugoplastika won 75-70, beating Partizan to the league championship for the second straight season.

A testament to his brilliant debut season, in summer 1989 Danilović received the call up for the Yugoslav national team training camp by head coach Dušan Ivković ahead of EuroBasket 1989 and made the 12-man roster Ivković took to the tournament playing alongside club teammates Divac and Paspalj. Coming back to Partizan later that summer, the team went through major changes as both Divac and Paspalj left after signing NBA contracts, with Lakers and Spurs, respectively, while head coach Vujošević went to Spanish club Oximesa from Granada, taking veteran center Savović with him. Borislav "Reba" Ćorković, who previously coached the club during two separate stints in the mid-1970s and early 1980s (winning two domestic league titles, in 1975-76 and 1980-81 seasons), became the new head coach.

Playing with a depleted roster, the season turned out to be a write-off as Partizan was no match for tougher Yugoslav clubs. Their deficiencies were specially evident at center as Pecarski who was forced into playing long minutes was often outplayed by the opposition's center line. Partizan finished the season in 8th place with a 9-13 record, missing the playoffs, the club's worst league finish in nineteen years. Despite another solid season from Danilović who was well on his way to becoming one of the team's leaders, they didn't fare much better in the Yugoslav Cup or the FIBA Cup Winners' Cup, finishing both competitions at the quarterfinal stage.

In late June 1992 Danilović entered the NBA Draft where he was taken in the second round by Golden State Warriors as the 43rd overall pick. He eventually decided to stay in Europe, signing with sports agent Mira Poljo, an established agent with good connections in Italy through Interperformances sports agency, who soon referred him to her partner Luciano Capicchioni. Danilović eventually signed a lucrative contract with Knorr Bologna paying him approximately $900,000 per season.

Virtus Bologna[edit]

Arriving in the Italian city of Bologna, and the club Virtus, with an aura of the Euroleague champion and Final Four MVP, big things were expected of 22-year-old Danilović. Earlier that summer, the club went through an ownership change with businessman Alfredo Cazzola acquiring it.

Coached by Ettore Messina and playing alongside point guard Roberto Brunamonti and center line of Bill Wennington and Augusto Binelli,[4] Danilović led the team to the top of the standings in the regular season with a 24–6 record, ahead of former teammate Saša Đorđević's Philips Milano and reigning league champions Benetton Treviso led by Toni Kukoč, before going through the playoffs without a loss, overcoming Olimpia Pistoia, Clear Cantù, and finally Kukoč's Treviso in the playoff final series to win the Italian League title. Dueling with his old nemesis from the Yugoslav League, Danilović got the better of Kukoč this time. Establishing himself as the team's undisputed leader, Danilović averaged 23.7 points per game over the course of regular season and the playoffs.[5] In contrast to the domestic league, Euroleague success proved elusive. The campaign started in early October, but it was the opening group stage game on 29 October that brought Danilović an uncomfortable away trip to play against Cibona in Zagreb. He thus became the very first Serb to play a competitive game in the newly independent Croatia after the breakup of Yugoslavia while the Yugoslav Wars were in full swing. Rattled by playing in an extremely hostile atmosphere, Danilović had a poor shooting night making 5 of 15 field goals, good for only 12 points as Virtus lost by 16. Talking about the Zagreb experience, later in 1996, Danilović said: "Traveling to the game I assumed there would be issues, but I certainly didn't expect that much hate. Eight thousand people showed up just to insult a Serb. Getting through that game was not easy at all for me and you can tell from my stats. Even their player Franjo Arapović as well as their head coach Aco Petrović were hostile before the game even started wanting to hurl abuse at me, but I managed to put them in their place once we got out on the court. Also I think the two of them realized they had a rematch to play in Bologna in a few months so they didn't want to antagonize me too much".[3] In the rematch on home court in January 1993, Danilović led the way with 9 of 12 field goal shooting and 23 points as Virtus jumped out to an early lead, recording a 40-point win by the end. Barely making it out of the group stage in the last qualifying spot with a 6-6 record meant that in their quarterfinal best-of-three series Virtus was playing the top-placed team from the other group - Real Madrid, led by Arvydas Sabonis. Virtus got blown out by Real, losing the first game on home court at PalaDozza by 20 points with Danilović having 4 points scored while five days later in Madrid, Real finished the job with another big victory, this time by 21 points.

In summer 1993, coach Messina left the club to take the head coaching position at the Italian national team with returning coach Alberto Bucci coming in as his replacement at Bologna. The club got a new naming-rights sponsor, non-alcoholic Buckler Beer, as it waited to move into its new arena that was still being built. The roster largely remained the same; the only notable player personnel changes were Wennington's return to the NBA to play for the Chicago Bulls, and the arrival of former NBA player Cliff Levingston from PAOK. With Danilović's contributions to the success of Virtus, he, together with his agent Luciano Capicchioni, also began looking at the NBA as an option again,[6] but in the end decided to stay in Bologna.

The new season, 1993–94, mostly mirrored the previous one as it quickly became clear that no club was a match for Virtus in the Italian League. Jumping to the top of the standings with five straight wins to open the league season, they never relinquished first place until the end, finishing the regular season with the identical 24–6 record from the previous campaign. Well settled in Italy with monikers like lo Zar (the Tzar) and Zar Freddo (the Cold Tzar) given to him by the Italian sports media due to his prowess and calm-under-pressure demeanor on the court as well as inaccessible nature off it, Danilović continued to lead the team. In December 1993, approximately midway through the season, Virtus moved into its newly built 8,650-seat arena PalaMalaguti, located outside of the city core in Casalecchio di Reno.

NBA[edit]

Even though he was selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 43rd pick overall in the 1992 NBA Draft (his rights were in November 1994 trade to the Miami Heat as part of the trade that sent 25-year-old Billy Owens to the Heat while the Warriors got 29-year-old center Rony Seikaly), Danilović continued playing in Europe before debuting in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played for Virtus Bologna before he was a member of the NBA's Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. During his two NBA seasons (19951997), Danilović averaged 12.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2 assists per game.

Stats[edit]

Euroleague career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  PIR  Performance Index Rating
 Bold  Career high
Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG PIR
1991–92 Partizan 19  ? 29.8 .587 .470 .747 4.5 1.6 2.2 .0 19.4  ?
1992–93 Virtus Bologna 15  ? 33.8 .613 .341 .747 3.6 1.1 1.7 .0 18.7  ?
1993–94 Virtus Bologna 14  ? 33.0 .562 .327 .843 3.1 1.6 1.4 .0 20.0  ?
1994–95 Virtus Bologna 17  ? 33.8 .601 .349 .807 2.8 1.6 1.9 .0 22.1  ?
1997–98 Virtus Bologna 21  ? 36.9 .557 .304 .747 3.8 3.2 1.2 .0 17.5  ?
1998–99 Virtus Bologna 14  ? 35.2 .582 .300 .845 1.6 1.9 1.2 .0 16.9  ?
Career 100  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?

National team[edit]

With the Yugoslav national basketball team, Danilović won four European Championships in 1989, 1991, 1995 and 1997. He was also a member of the silver medal winning Yugoslav team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Titles[edit]

Administrative career[edit]

Partizan vice-president (2000–2004)[edit]

In fall 2000, shortly after retiring from playing professionally, Danilović became co-vice president of his old club KK Partizan, working under new club president Vlade Divac. The appointment came about on initiative by club official Ivica Dačić during the time of political upheaval in Serbia in the wake of the Slobodan Milošević overthrow. Dačić, the club's outgoing president and, more importantly, a suddenly marginalized politician who, due to his association with Milošević, was forced to leave his post at the club, saw that various state-owned companies and community property were being taken over in a dubious manner during the power vacuum that resulted from régime change, Dačić saw it prudent to bring the club's two former greats as a safeguard against the same happening to KK Partizan.[7]

Since Divac was at the time still an active player in the NBA with Sacramento Kings, Danilović essentially ran KK Partizan.

Inheriting a head coach Darko Russo, Danilović let him finish out the season before hiring old mentor and friend Duško Vujošević during summer 2001. Vujošević immediately started producing results, winning the league title in 2001-02, endind the three-year winning run of KK Budućnost. It was the first of nine consecutive league trophies under his command. Though continually cash-strapped, under the command of Danilović, Divac, and sporting director Dragan Todorić, the club instituted a model of bringing up domestic young players from its own youth setup or smaller clubs in Serbia and Montenegro rather than relying on foreign imports. It proved a winner both on the court and business-wise as Partizan sold its best player in regular intervals (usually every summer) and then re-invested that money into the youth system or acquiring talented youngsters from smaller clubs while making sure that squad can function with other players stepping up. Under this model, in summer 2003 Miloš Vujanić was sold to Fortitudo Bologna while the following summer 2004 Nenad Krstić got sold to New Jersey Nets. The club managed to win the domestic league FR Yugoslavia/Serbia-Montenegro league year after year, ensuring a Euroleague spot, which was essential for its bottom line.

Simultaneously, Danilović was very much against his club joining the regional Adriatic League. However, by 2004, Partizan was essentially forced into the regional competition because its Euroleague spot now depended on competing regionally rather than domestically. This also brought about change in the club's business model as in the summer of 2004 they brought in already established national team players 27-year-old Dejan Milojević from KK Budućnost and 29-year-old Milan Gurović from KK Vojvodina to bolster the squad ahead of the start of competition in Adriatic League. It would prove to be one of Danilović's last orders of business at the club as he soon left KK Partizan.

Partizan president (2007–present)[edit]

In 2007 Danilović returned to KK Partizan, this time as president. That year, he was placed on probation by the Serbian Basketball Federation due to a physical altercation with referee Marko Juras after a playoff game versus KK Hemofarm in Vršac. Danilović was originally suspended from all basketball-related activity for two years, but the federation later decided to reduce the punishment.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Danilović is married to Svetlana Danilović, an RTS sports reporter. The couple have three children.

He was also involved with Group Seven, a charity organization founded by seven Serbian basketball players.

On 11 February 2009, Danilović filed a lawsuit against Worldwide Associates[9] (a limited-liability company based in Carmel, Indiana and represented by Rick Suder and George Grkinich) alleging investment fraud connected to $4 million he gave the company to manage.[10] Previously, Grkinich was also involved with Group Seven.[11]

May 2013 stabbing[edit]

In the early morning hours of Saturday, 18 May 2013, 43-year-old Danilović was stabbed during a bar brawl in Belgrade, sustaining injuries to his head, arms, and abdomen, for which he received surgery at Belgrade's Urgentni centar.[12]

From the press reports, Danilović had been drinking and eating at the Kafanica bar, a kafana-type establishment in the Košutnjak neighbourhood, together with a party of friends,[13] including the bar's owner, Danilović's close friend, Branko "Fido" Filipović,[14] before a fight broke out around 2:20am between Filipović and Danilović. Filipović reportedly struck Danilović in the head with an ashtray[15] prompting someone from the bar to call an ambulance, which Danilović refused upon their arrival, sending them away.[16] The fight between the two continued with Filipović now stabbing Danilović in the abdomen, and injured Danilović driving by himself to the hospital.[17] Due to the nature of his injuries, considered "life-threatening",[18] Danilovic underwent emergency surgery and afterwards got placed in intensive care in stable condition.[19] During the day Danilović was visited at the hospital by the Serbian prime minister Ivica Dačić (incidentally Danilović's personal friend and predecessor at the post of KK Partizan president), Serbian deputy prime minister Aleksandar Vučić and sports minister Alisa Marić. Talking to the press, prime minister Dačić described the circumstances of Danilovic's stabbing as the "traditional Serbian quarrel between friends".[20]

On 20 May, Serbian police issued an arrest warrant for Branko Filipović after unsuccessfully trying to summon him for questioning.[21] Danilović got out of the hospital on 26 May[22] and was seen in public at the Belgrade Airport awaiting the arrival of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, who were acquitted at the Hague Tribunal.[23][24] After being on the run for more than two weeks, Filipović got arrested in Belgrade on 2 June.[25][26] After initially being charged with "causing severe bodily harm with life-threatening injuries", his charge was in the meantime changed to "attempted murder" by the Serbian public prosecutor office.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Hladni car". Mozzart Sport (in Serbian). 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  2. ^ Predrag Saša Danilović - Alipašino polje on YouTube;RTS - Balkanskom ulicom, 2010
  3. ^ a b c "Duletov dečak". NIN (in Serbian). 1996-08-02. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  4. ^ 1992-93 Virtus Bologna
  5. ^ Danilović 1992-93 Italian League stats
  6. ^ The Next Kukoc Is Alive, Well and Waiting for the NBA;The New York Times, 23 October 1993
  7. ^ Divac savetuje Dačića, Blic, 2008-10-16 
  8. ^ Daniloviću smanjena kazna za Vršac
  9. ^ DANILOVIC v. WORLDWIDE ASSOCIATES, LLC et al
  10. ^ Former basketball players accuse firm of investment fraud;Indianapolis Business Journal, 16 April 2010
  11. ^ NBA Stars Play a Round for the Kids;Daily Herald, 16 July 2005
  12. ^ Former N.B.A. Player Stabbed in Brawl;The New York Times, 18 May 2013
  13. ^ Prijatelji su, ali i nezgodni kad popiju;Blic, 20 May 2013
  14. ^ Od grljenja do noza u stomak za pet minuta;Blic, 21 May 2013
  15. ^ Danilović izboden "u svađi među prijateljima";MTS Mondo, 18 May 2013
  16. ^ Predrag Danilović izboden nožem;B92, 18 May 2013
  17. ^ Predrag Danilović ranjen u kafanskoj svađi;Vecernje novosti, 18 May 2013
  18. ^ MUP:Istražujemo napad na Danilovića;B92, 18 May 2013
  19. ^ KK Partizan: Predsednik Danilović je operisan, u stabilnom je stanju, želimo mu brz oporavak;Blic, 18 May 2013
  20. ^ Dačić: Danilović je povređen u tradicionalnoj srpskoj svađi među prijateljima;Blic, 18 May 2013
  21. ^ Poternica za prijateljem Danilovića;B92, 20 May 2013
  22. ^ Predrag Danilović izašao iz bolnice, a Fidi još uvek u bekstvu;Blic, 26 May 2013
  23. ^ MOŠA: Novinari i Predrag Danilović čekali Stanišića i Frenkija na aerodromu, dočekali Željka Mitrovića!;telegraf.rs, 31 May 2013
  24. ^ Danilović uzalud čekao Stanišića i Simatovića;Blic, 1 June 2013
  25. ^ Uhapšen Branko Filipović Fido zbog napada na Predraga Danilovića;Blic, 2 June 2013
  26. ^ Uhapšen napadač na Predraga Danilovića;mondo.rs, 2 June 3013
  27. ^ Tužilac promenio krivično delo: Filipoviću preti i do 40 godina zatvora za napad na Danilovića;Blic, 2 June 2013

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Lithuania Arvydas Sabonis
Mr. Europa
1998
Succeeded by
Italy Andrea Meneghin