As we move away from the golden age of NBA basketball, which we all truly miss, it’s more and more evident that a certain phenomenon of global basketball stays the same – the influx of the NBA players from former Yugoslavia.
During the last NBA season, team rosters featured a total of 16 NBA players from former Yugoslavia (which had a total population of 21 million) and 48 from the rest of Europe (with a total population of 700 million).
More than a quarter of a century after the tragic war, the six countries covering the territory of former Yugoslavia are, together, producing NBA players at a rate which is 11 times more efficient than the rest of Europe.
Today, the understanding of basketball in former Yugoslavia is literally the basic prerequisite for understanding how basketball (NBA and FIBA) functions today all over the world, and what the relations and ongoing trends are.
Movies and books on this global basketball phenomenon began to pop up ever since the release of the documentary ‘Once Brothers’ (2010), which tells the story of the broken friendship between Yugoslavian NT teammates Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac.
The most recent media works which explore the reasons behind the success of basketball in former Yugoslavia is the documentary ‘Something in the Water’ produced by CBS Sports creative director Pete Radovich. It premiered on Saturday, August 11th at the Sarajevo Film Festival with great success.
RELATED VIDEO LINK: “Something in the Water” (complete documentary movie)
‘Something in the Water’ is based on the story of two of the most recent NBA draftees hailing from former Yugoslavia – Slovenian Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) and Bosnian Dzanan Musa (Brooklyn Nets), which draws just as good a parallel as it can in a brave effort in explaining the complexity of reasons which stood and still stand behind the remarkable NBA success story of the players from the region covered by former Yugoslavia to the US public.
Besides ‘Something in the Water’, the documentary ‘250 Stairs’ (original Serbo-Croatian title ‘250 stepenika’) was also released, and it tells the story of the triumphant Yugoslavian generation from the 1987 World Junior Championships as well as the book ‘Bridging the Generations’ (original Serbo-Croatian title ‘Most Generacija’) which explores the uncharted events and unsung heroes on the historical timeline of basketball in former Yugoslavian, with special emphasis on the development of basketball relations between the United States and former Yugoslavia.
One thing is certain – NBA basketball, as we have known it for the last three decades, certainly wouldn’t be the same without players from former Yugoslavia.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is BN contributor and the author of the book ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ which can be found here.