Vlade Divac: No Flop
Memorable Laker achievements extend from the glory days of George Mikan to their recent string of championships with Phil, Shaq and Kobe, but one of the most important contributions from Laker past came to an anticlimactic end this week.
Vlade Divac’s retirement represents official closure of the first truly prominent European player in the NBA. Today, we know the Euro influence through names like Dirk Nowitzki (the good), Nikoloz Tskitishvili (the bad) and Antoine Rigaudeau (the ugly, and not to mention hilariously ineffective), but it was Vlade’s arrival that allowed the possibility of this explosion across the Atlantic.
Players like Peja Stojakovic idolized Divac growing and were mentored by him upon arrival, and his effect reaches far beyond the NBA. Eastern European athletes of any sport are in debt to him for building the bridge to American success. Nena Siljegovic, the starting setter for the USC women’s volleyball team, lists Divac as her biggest sports hero.
It is a fantastic gesture by the Lakers to hire Divac as a scout to check out European talent, and it is in their best interests as it pipelines prominent players directly to Los Angeles because of the Divac effect.
Laker fans without historical perspective may only know Divac as “that center for the Queens,” but he represents one of the most significant paradigm shifts in the NBA. Now, everyone is looking for that international gem, but the one that will forever shine brightest has done his part and is calling it quits.
But don’t worry, Derek Fisher will maintain the legacy of the flop.
Post by Alex Delanian.