The great Dusko Ivanovic | TalkBasket.net
After winning the Liga Endesa title with Baskonia, coach Dusko Ivanovic has added another championship to his impressive list of achievements.
Seemingly Gambling on basketball Ivanovic has risked a lot throughout his life, but has become one of the true greats of our sport.
Here’s a look at Dusko Ivanovic’s career.
Montenegro’s Holy Hand
At the end of the 1982/83 season, the list of goalscorers in the mighty Yugoslav League was: Dusko Ivanovic of Buducnost Podgorica, 603 points (27.4 ppg.); Drazen Petrovic from Sibenka, 561 points (25.5 ppg.); and Peter Vilfan from Olimpija Ljubljana, 535 points (25.4 ppg.). Admittedly, Petrovic was barely 18 years old, but he was already a star in development and the same summer he made his debut with the Yugoslav national team at EuroBasket 1983 in Limoges and Nantes.
Ivanovic was born on September 1st, 1957 in Bijelo Polje, Montenegro. He was almost 26 years old and an outstanding man.
However, he had a reputation for “being a good player, but only for smaller teams”. Nothing could be wrong and he was not alone.
The story of Dusko Ivanovic, the player, began in his hometown Bijelo Polje in the late 1960s. There was a basketball court not far from where he lived with his parents and his older brother Dragan. However, the crucial moment came when some plastic back panels were installed to replace the old wooden back panels. Little Dusko followed in the footsteps of a few years older Dragan and started shooting the ball into the basket. When Yugoslavia won the gold medal at the 1970 World Cup in Ljubljana, Dusko decided that he would play basketball.
From the first exercises on the street to his first hours at the local Jedinstvo club, the best attribute of young Dusko was his shot. He had a great touch and it didn’t go unnoticed. He was only 16 when he made his debut in the first team for coach Bratko Ilic, who recognized his great talent and made a leap of confidence with him. At the age of 17, Dusko was already in the starting blocks; At 18, he was on the radar of many large teams in Yugoslavia. At the age of 19, Ivanovic decided to try his luck with Crvena Zvezda, who was coached by Bratislav Djordjevic, Sasha’s father. In the pre-season on Zlatibor Mountain, Dusko decided to leave the team.
“I didn’t like the atmosphere in this team,” said Ivanovic. “There was no camaraderie. Everyone did their own thing and I was not very well received. I decided to move to Podgorica to study law, although coach Djordjevic tried to convince me to stay. “
Ivanovic signed with Buducnost, where he played with his brother Dragan, who had just returned from OKK Belgrade. The beginning was not easy as coach Nikola Sekulovic didn’t trust young Dusko much. One day a confident Dusko approached his trainer. “I suggested a deal to him. He would take me to the court for 30 minutes during a game. If I didn’t play well, I would go. “
Said and done. In the game against Mornar Bar in the second division, Dusko scored 35 points and never left the top five in the following nine seasons. That was the career starter for this great shooter, one of the best in the former Yugoslavia.
When Buducnost reached the Yugoslav premier league in his first season with the elite, Ivanovic ended the race with an average of 24.1 points. In his second season, which was mentioned at the beginning of this post, he was the league’s top scorer with 27.4 points. Over the following four years, he scored 22.6 points, 10.4 points (a season in which he didn’t play much due to military service), 26.8 points and 27.8 points per game in his last Buducnost shirt.
Although Dusko Ivanovic spent much of his time training basketball, he was a good law student. He finished his studies in the expected time, four years, and then started working for the Podgorica City Council. For three years he was a player and civil servant. In 1986 he married the medical student Ljiljana and in 1987 his son Stefan was born. Everything indicated a future in Podgorica.
When Ivanovic tried to play for Partizan, the Belgrade club replied that he was not interested. Then came the call from Olimpija Ljubljana. Dusko went to the meeting alone and without agents – something that was completely unknown in Yugoslavia at the time. The club made an offer and Dusko explained his demands for a radical change in his life, but the sides disagreed and he returned to Podgorica. Then he received the call from Boza Maljkovic, who was at the start of a great project in Split with a talented team of jugoplastics.
“I saw a team with a lot of talent, but too young. I was looking for an experienced player, a leader, an authority for the players, but also for the referees, ”Maljkovic often told me. “I chose Dusko and luckily he accepted. It was a key piece in the construction of the large jugoplastics. “
Maljkovic did not convince Ivanovic with money – Dusko himself says it is “less than half what Olimpija offered” – but with a great future. Both were aware that they had an exceptional group of players on their hands. In the first season 1987/88 Jugoplastika played the Korac Cup and finished third in the group, connected with Cantu, but with a worse point differential. In Split, Jugoplastika defeated CAI Zaragoza 87-83 behind 18 points from Toni Kukoc and 15 from Ivanovic. It was Ivanovic’s first direct contact with Spanish basketball. On the benches were Ranko Zeravica for Zaragoza and Maljkovic for Jugoplastika, who had worked together for many years at Crvena Zvezda.
Jugoplastika won the Yugoslav League with overwhelming authority in 1987-88. The regular season record was 21: 1 and Dusko was the best scorer ahead of Dino Radja, Kukoc and Velimir Perasovic with 418 points (19.9 per game). In the playoffs, the team defeated Sibenka and Olimpija 2-0 and in the last series Partizan was 2-1 the victim. With 139 points (19.8 ppg.) Ivanovic was again the best scorer in the team. Maljkovic had made a home run when Ivanovic was the piece that made all of this talent as a team laugh.
In autumn 1988, Jugoplastika was back in the EuroLeague, but nobody gave such a young team a chance. However, it was one of those times when talent, ambition and hard work defeated the money to create a sports miracle. The fact that Jugoplastika reached the Final Four in Munich was already a surprise and was certainly an outsider. In the semi-finals, FC Barcelona with Juan Antonio “Epi” San Epifanio, Nacho Solozabal, Audie Norris, Ferran Martinez and Company were the victims. The score was 87-77 thanks to 24 points from Kukoc and 20 from Dusko. Maccabi Tel Aviv waited in the title game and was also the big favorite, but Jugoplastika prevailed again with 75-69. Radja shone with 20 points this time, Kukoc added 18 and Ivanovic had 12. What Dusko Ivanovic meant for this team can be explained from the fact that he was only the second captain of the team there in his second year.
The same thing happened the following year. Jugoplastika won first the national cup, then the EuroLeague in Zaragoza and finally the Yugoslav league for a triple crown. In the national league, Ivanovic was “only” the team’s third-best scorer, behind Kukoc and Radja, two diamonds that had grown strongly on Dusko Ivanovic’s side. In the Zaragoza Final Four, Jugoplastika defeated Limoges in the semifinals 101-83 behind 24 points from Perasovic and 20 from Ivanovic, while the victim in the title game was Barcelona again. A score of 72-67 gave Jugoplastika another title when Kukoc scored 20 points and three players each contributed 12 points: Ivanovic, Radja and Perasovic.
After 10 seasons in the first division – a total of 226 games and 4,551 points (23.3 ppg.) – Dusko Ivanovic was the tenth best scorer of all time in the Yugoslav league. With two EuroLeague crowns, his last chance of playing elsewhere was approaching. Dusko was already 32 years old, an age that represents the end or beginning of the end of many careers. But for him it was just the beginning of the third phase of his career: playing abroad.
Since his career as a lawyer had ended, he decided to continue doing what he did best: scoring points. Ivanovic didn’t have many offers. The best was from Valvi Girona, a humble team in Spain. On the other hand, the Spanish league was one of the best in Europe and an attractive country to live in. His former coach and close friend Maljkovic also trained in Barcelona. Her life would cross again, something that would happen many more times in the future.
It didn’t take much time when it turned out that the Girona team had signed an excellent shooter. If Oscar Schmidt was the Holy Hand for his Brazilian compatriots, Dusko Ivanovic was the same for Montenegro, a country where many great players were born: Zarko Paspalj, Nikola Pekovic, Nikola Vucevic and Nikola Mirotic among many others. He scored with good numbers from everywhere, ran the breaks and was a professional who set an example in every respect. On November 11, 1990, Girona won 67-87 in Manresa when Ivanovic scored 43 points! He made 20 out of 25 two-pointers and 3 out of 3 free throws. His performance index was 44. He finished this season with an average of 27.0 points and only Walter Berry was ahead of him.
Oddly enough, he didn’t shoot many threes for such a great shooter in Ivanovic’s first season in Spain and he wasn’t very accurate, 2 out of 22. The following season his numbers “dropped” to 19.7 points per game, but his shot percentage was behind the arc rose to 45% (34 out of 76).
Back injury and surgery threatened to end his career, and Valvi did not renew his contract. At the beginning of the 1992/93 season, Ivanovic remained without a team. He was about to turn 35 when an old friend called him. Boza Maljkovic, already in Limoges, offered him a chance. Yes, it was a temporary contract for injured Jure Zdovc, but Ivanovic took his chance. In six games of the French league he scored an average of 16.4 points with good shooting rates. Valvi decided to call Dusko back, and his numbers were more than decent at 16.5 points. But Dusko himself admits that he was not the same player as before the operation.
The last station
For the 1994/95 season, Ivanovic was offered a contract in Freiburg, where he played a great season at 37. He then returned to Girona to become Quim Costa assistant at Valvi. However, it was not renewed at the end of the season, so he returned to Switzerland. He became a player / trainer in Freiburg and scored an average of 18.8 points. The Holy Hand was still in good shape. Of course Freiburg won the league and did so again in the following two seasons, but with Ivanovic as the only head coach. From 1997 to 2000 he was also the coach of the Swiss national team.
In the summer of 1999, Ivanovic made another important decision in his life: he accepted an offer from Limoges to become head coach there. It was not an easy decision. His wife, a doctor, had a job in Freiburg, the children went to school there and had formed a circle of friends. But he knew that if he wanted to be a good head coach, he had to go. Ivanovic spent only one year in Limoges and won the French Cup, the Korac Cup and the French championship. At that time he received the call from Baskonia in Vitoria, a team with a strong project. The rest of the story is known. Two-time EuroLeague finalists, two Spanish championship titles, four Spanish royal cups. Oddly enough, Maljkovic later coached Vitoria’s team when Ivanovic was the coach at FC Barcelona. Both spent time on the bench in Panathinaikos when the Greens won their first continental crown with Boza and Ivanovic stopped there for Barcelona.
Since both of them, as well as Perasovic, Zan Tabak, Luka Pavicevic and Zoran Sretenovic were also trainers, the large jugoplastics of the late 1980s and early 1990s spread their knowledge of how to win across Europe.
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