DOB: 3 February 1968
Place of birth: Prijepolje
Like Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac was a pioneer for European players in the NBA. He spent 16 seasons in the big league and is one of six players in history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 block shots, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon.
With Yugoslavia, he earned gold medals at the 1990 and 2002 FIBA World Championships, and also at the 1989, 1991 and 1995 EuroBasket tournaments. Vlade Divac has been the President of the Serbian Olympic Committee since 2009, and is also deeply involved in humanitarian work.
Divac was born in Prijepolje and started playing basketball in his native town. He played professionally for the first time with Kraljevo and was recruited by Partizan Belgrade at the age of 18. In the same year, he debuted with the Yugoslavia national team.
In 1987, he won the Yugoslavian league title with Partizan. His teammates were Aleksandar Djordjevic, Zarko Paspalj and Zeljko Obradovic. NBA scouts were seduced by his mobility, his shooting range and his great passing skills for a center. He was drafted in 1989 by the Los Angeles Lakers as the 26th pick, and started his career overseas under the tutelage of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He played seven seasons with the Lakers before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 against the draft rights of Kobe Bryant.
In 1998, he moved to Sacramento and helped turn the Kings into a competitive team. But he failed to win an NBA championship. In 2003-04, he played one last season with the Lakers before retiring.
Vlade Divac is far more than a basketball player in Serbia, as he is adored by the public.