History / Coaching Legends
Aleksandar Nikolic

Aleksandar Nikolic was born in Sarajevo on October 28, 1924 but as a young boy moved to Belgrade. He finished high school Gimnazija Kralj Aleksandar Karadjordjevic in 1943 and studied law and medicine at the Belgrade University. He was a professor at the Belgrade Faculty for Physical Culture and for that reason was used to be called and is remembered as “professor”.

He spent his playing career in Partizan (1945-1946), Crvena Zvezda (1947-1949), Zeleznicar of Cacak (1949-1950) and BASK of Belgrade (1950-11951). With Crvena Zvezda, he won two Yugoslav Championship titles, 1947-1949. He played 10 games for the national team of Yugoslavia. After finishing his playing career, he became head coach of the Yugoslav national team and coaced the team in two periods, 1951-1965 and 1976-1978. As a national team coach he won six medals: gold (World Championship 1978, European Championship 1977), silver (WC 1963, EC 1961 and 1965), bronze (EC 1963). He achieved 170 wins out of 239 games played by the national team of Yugoslavia.

Due to his contribution to the development of basketball in former Yugoslavia, he is frequently called a “Father of Yugoslav basketball”. He led clubs OKK Beograd, Partizan, Crvena Zvezda, Petrarca Padova and Ignis Varese. As a club coach, he won four national championships, two national cups, three European Champion titles, Cup of Cups, two International Cups. Two times elected best coach of Europe, in 1966 and 1976. Became member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield in 1998 and of FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007. Awarded a Medal of Honor by FIBA in 1995. Aleksandar Nikolic died on March 12, 2000 in Belgrade.

Ranko Zeravica

Ranko Zeravica was born on November 17, 1929 in Novo Milosevo. He started his coaching career in early 1950s just about the time when he was finishing his playing career. It was until 1966 that he worked in Radnicki of Belgrade as a coach of men’s and women’s categories.

Zeravica is known as a coach who introduced numerous newly acquired methods in our basketball by the end of 1960s and the beginning of 70’s. He was assistant coach to Aleksandar Nikolic from 1960-1965 when he became Yugoslav national team head coach. At this position he won seven medals at major competitions: gold (WC 1970, OG 1980), silver (WC 1067, OG 1968, EC1969, EC 1971), bronze (WC 1982). In addition to that, he is the owner of medals from University, Mediterranean and Balkan games. He led successfully the national team of Argentina as well.

While working with the national team, Zeravica had a decisive role in the Partizan club “boom” at the beginning of 1970s when he selected a team led by Kicanovic and Dalipagic. I addition to Partizan, he also coached Crvena Zvezda, Pula, Zaragoza, Filodoro of Napoli, Onyx of Caserta… The club trophies he has are the European Korac Cup (Partizan 1978) and two national championship titles (Obras, Argentina 1976) and Partizan (1996).

Member of FIBA Hall of Fame since 2007.

Dusan Ivkovic

Dusan Ivkovic was born on October 29, 1943 in Belgrade. Upon finishing his playing career in Radnicki of Belgrade, he remained in the club to coach younger categories. One of the most prominent basketball coaches has thus far coached various great clubs such as Partizan, Vojvodina, Sibenik, PAOK, AEK, Panionis, Olympiacos, CSKA and Dynamo Moscow…

In 1990s, the Serbian basketball fans gave him a nickname Dusan the Mighty, whereas the Greeks called him Sofos (The one who knows) after the historical achievement of Olympiacos under Ivkovic.

He led the national team in five finals and lost just one, at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. It was equally important for our basketball that during the sanctions imposed on our country, he succeeded to preserve the continuity of our basketball regularly gathering the best players and playing friendly games. As a head coach of the national team he won one World (1990) and three European golds (1989, 1991, 1995) as well as the Olympic silver (1988). He got silver at the Atlanta Olympics. As to the clubs’ competitions, he was a Champion of Europe with Olympiacos, winner of Radivoj Korac’s Cup with Partizan (1979), Saporta Cup with AEK (2000), that is, ULEB Cup with Dynamo of Moscow.

Dusan Ivkovic led the Serbian national team to earn silver at the 2009 European Championship in Poland and at the 2010 World Championship in Turkey, they ended as fourth.

Svetislav Pesic

Svetislav Pesic was born on August 28, 1949 in Novi Sad but he moved to Pirot at the age of three where he also started his playing career. He reached his career highs as a player of Partizan and Bosna of Sarajevo. Although he has won the title of European Champion with Bosna, that fact is least mentioned in his biography due to the outstanding achievements in his coaching career. Pesic has become one of the most esteemed coaching experts in Europe and has coached numerous clubs such as Bosna, Alba, Barcelona, Lotomatica, Dynamo Moscow, Girona, Valencia, Crvena Zvezda.

He is also known as a basketball coaching expert who led the generation of Djordjevic, Divac, Kukoc and Radja up to their senior playing career. He reached the titles of European Champions with all national team categories, from cadets (1985) to seniors (2001). Pesic won the World Championships with juniors (1987) and seniors (2002).

Under Pesic, Barcelona reached the title of Euroleague Champions, the national team of Germany won the title of European Champions (1993) and Alba of Berlin took Radivoj Korac’s Cup (1996).

Zeljko Obradovic

Zeljko Obradovic was born on March 9, 1960 in Cacak. Upon his magnificant playing career (silver at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, gold at the 1990 World Championship in Argentina), in 1991 he started his even more brilliant coaching career and has become a coach with the greatest number of trophies not only in Europe but worldwide as well. A unique achievement of Obradovic is that he has become a World Champion both as a player and as a coach.

He became a head coach of the national team in 1996. Since then, he has won four medals with the national team: gold (European Championship 1997, World Championship 1998), silver (Olympic Games 1996), bronze (European Championship 1999). He is a holder of the greatest number of trophies in the history of European club competitions. Eight times European Champion: Partizan 1992, Juventut 1994, Real 1995, Panathinaikos 2000, 2002, 2007, 2011. Two times winner of Saporta Cup: Real 1997 and Benetton 1999. As a club coach he also treasures 12 national titles, 11 with Panathinaikos (of which 9 consecutive) and 1 with Partizan as well as 7 national cups – 6 with Panathinaikos and 1 with Partizan.

Zeljko Obradovic has two times been awarded “Aleksander Gomelsky” Best European Basketball Coach Award. This award has a special importance knowing that it is voted for by the coaches participating in the top club European competition – Euroleague.