Vlade Divac is back in the NBA. That’s a very good thing.
He’s one of the pioneers of Europeans coming to the NBA and having success, having been a key part of the Lakers and Kings. He was an All-Star in 2001 and a guy known for a polished offensive game both back to the basket and from the midrange, his passing, smoking cigarettes, and flopping. He was eventually appreciated in Los Angeles (it was not easy to replace Kareem) but he was beloved in Sacramento, where he has returned to work with the organization’s basketball operations.
Divac also is remembered as the guy the Lakers traded for Kobe Bryant. Charlotte drafted Bryant on a pre-arranged deal to send him West. Which is why it was interesting when Divac sat down with the USA Today’s Sam Amick and said this about Kobe.
“It was a lovely story that I finished my career with Kobe, with somebody who I was traded for. I have a lot of respect for the guy. I think he’s definitely, by far, the best talent that I ever, ever played with. (It’s) obviously very close with Magic (Johnson) and Chris Webber, Glen Rice and Peja Stojakovic — it’s unbelievable experience for me to have a teammate like that next to me.”
More talented than Magic? That is high praise.
You should also read Divac’s comments on flopping — he says he did it because it was the only way he could defend the man-child that was Shaq, but he doesn’t like where it is in the game now.