He is such an unbelievable coach that sometimes we forget how successful he was as a player, winning a silver Olympic medal in 1988 and a gold one in the 1990 World Championship. Then, on the bench of his national team, he had bad-to-back triumphs in European and World Championships, 1997 and 1998, juts after the second place in Atlanta Olympics back in 1996.
Saying Obradovic means actually saying Euroleague, but it’s totally extraordinary that his name meant the same in 1992, when he got his first title with Partizan, led on the court by Djordjevic and Danilovic. Then it was about Joventut Badalona, Real Madrid, Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce.
Having the opportunity to talk to coach Obradovic, we wanted to start from that point, a long-lasting successful story through decades, always led by the same spirit.
– Coach, 30 year on the bench, at least three different basketball eras. How is possible that we see the same Obradovic, as hungry as he was in the 90s? Is there any secret for that?
Passion and hard work are my basics. You need to know what to do and how to do it. I truly love my job and it gives me an outstanding happiness. That’s what I try to pass down to my players.
– Your basketball looks like perfectly covering the full court. You coached and are still coaching the best talents: how do you convince them that it’s only through hard work and intangibles that they can make the difference? How do you explain them the road to success?
You always need to talk to a player before inking him. I’m a focused person and I want to explain my concepts, the way we want to work and the long road to success. I want to pass down to them what it takes to be a champ and have successful seasons. I love to talk to them and get their opinion.
– Your basketball system is something unique. especially on the “weak side” I can see players moving in perfect synchrony, ready for a skip pass, moving in the right spots and eventually ready for the defensive possession. Is that part of the game something you care most in your practice?
It’s definitely true. We pay a lot of attention to all the parts of the game, sometimes we are not successful in some aspect we care about, but we never give up. Basicly we do not want to concede easy baskets.
– During a clinic I heard you saying to the young coaches that «any given game you will face someone ready to make it better than you». Is that the basic motivation every time you sit on a bench or go to the gym for a practice?
When you win, any level you play, you need to know someone will be ready to do whatever it takes to defeat you. If you don’t understand this, you will face many losses and you won’t go very far. I know motivations behind a winner, but I know too motivation of the ones that still have to win something. It’s a basic focus.
– It looks like when you select a player you look at the person he is even more than the talent he shows. That’s why we see players coming in your team and keep on improving, just as an example guys like Sloukas or Datome. Is that correct?
Absolutely yes. We want to study and understand the man as well as the player. Sometimes recognizing talent is easier than understanding which kind of a man you are thinking of inking. Ethic is so important in our selection of players.
– Your staff is definitely outstanding. They are so focused on all the situations on the court and ready to face any of those situations. Is this a kind of huge advantage for Fenerbahce, compared to your opponents?
I’m proud of my staff in Fenerbahce, I love the way they spend so much time hard working and scouting the teams we have to face. And I love to discuss all this with them to find the best solution.
– You will find in Belgrade Sarunas Jasikevicius, maybe the real MVP of his team this season. Did you imagine he could have been such a remarkable coach?
Yes I did and I told him when he was still playing. There’s no surprise for me. I think all the greatest players, if they maintain themselves with the right passion, can be great coaches.
– Do you agree that Zalgiris basketball is, as well as Fenerbahce’s one, the correct mix of isolations and cuts, far better than other teams?
You can see it clearly, players know what do to do and how to do it, with their coach perfectly controlling all the system. It’s a remarkable kind of basketball.
– Gigi Datome and Nicolò Melli are actually among a few italian players really competitive in Europe. What do you think of their season and which is you idea about the bad times of italian basketball?
I’m so happy to coach players like Gigi and Nick. They are not only great players, they are extraordinary human beings, so humble approaching the game, with great desire, always driven by an unbelievable work ethic. I wish I can coach them fo a long time. Unfortunately I’m out of Italy since a very long time, so that I can’t really answer about italian basketball.
Final 4 is just behind the corner and it’s like home for coach Obradovic. Driven by humility, driven by hard working, with more passion than anybody else. As it was the first time, as it will be any time we will see the Coach on a bench, as the main reason for his relentless road to success.