Zeljko Obradovic, often hailed as the most illustrious basketball coach in European history, recently opened up about his experiences with the NBA and how it has shaped his coaching philosophy. In a candid interview with Arena Sport, Obradovic shared insights from his time with the Detroit Pistons and his interactions with prominent figures in the NBA.
Although Obradovic never received a concrete offer to coach in the NBA, he did spend significant time with the Detroit Pistons organization. "While it's the pinnacle of basketball leagues globally, we still share knowledge and borrow coaching strategies from each other," Obradovic reflected.
Recalling his stint with the Pistons, he said, "Joe Dumars, the general manager at the time, was eager to absorb any insights I had to offer. While we discussed potential collaborations, the details remain private." The hiring process in the NBA did baffle Obradovic, leading to amusing situations.
"Once, a manager asked me for an interview. I was genuinely perplexed, thinking he meant a journalistic interview!" Obradovic exclaimed. The recent appointment of Serbian coach Darko Rajakovic as head coach of the Toronto Raptors intrigued Obradovic.
"I've had great conversations with Darko, and I was curious about the transition. The NBA's emphasis now seems to lean toward younger coaches for nurturing young talent," he mused.
Scariolo and EuroLeague Focus
Sergio Scariolo's role in the Raptors and his association with Obradovic was also touched upon.
"Sergio and I recently collaborated on a seminar. The focus in the EuroLeague is undeniably on results; securing a top-eight spot is paramount for any team," he opined. A pivotal conversation with Rick Carlisle left an indelible mark on Obradovic.
"Carlisle emphasized that in the NBA, building strong player relationships is crucial. He believed that 80% of the role revolves around this, and the rest is about mastering the game's technicalities," Obradovic shared. This philosophy has deeply influenced Obradovic's coaching style over the years.
Drawing inspiration from his time in Detroit in 2012, Obradovic commented on the NBA's training regimen. "It's structured yet effective. Since then, I've adapted a similar one-session training approach which both players and coaches appreciate." While he remains an icon in European basketball, Obradovic's respect for and learnings from the NBA have been instrumental in shaping his coaching journey.