In a great interview for Spartando, the most successful European coach of all-time, Zeljko Obradovic talked about several things from his career and basketball in general but also mentioned the reason why he never joined an NBA team as a head coach. Obradovic made a pretty provocative statement saying the NBA behaves like “mafia” because it doesn’t allow European coaches to be the head coach of an NBA team. Obradovic is convinced many European coaches have enough quality and the know-how for that job.
“I hope one day the European coach will go to the NBA and work for them, demonstrating all his skills. There are a lot of European coaches ready to work in the NBA right now.”
Obradovic dismisses the fact, Mike D’Antoni, David Blatt, and Igor Kokoskov fall under the assumption that they are European simply because Blatt and D’Antoni are Americans, while Kokoskov spent the last 20 years in the NBA.
“Mike D’Antoni is American, born and raised in Europe. He coached here too. David Blatt is American and Igor Kokoskov, who has been in America for the past 20 years before coaching an NBA team. “
Despite having a tremendous coaching career in Europe for the past 20 years, Obradovic never showed interest in joining the NBA. There was some interest from the Detroit Pistons a few years ago for his services, but nothing came to a realization. Obradovic believes the NBA is a closed community when it comes to coaching positions where Europeans are still not welcomed.
“There are no European coaches, and you know why? Because the NBA is mafia, they don’t leave a coach to work. And nobody can’t say anything. I can right now because I don’t care. NBA is the best basketball league, but without any doubts, I can say that there a lot of European coaches that can work there.”
Even though over 25 percent of players in the NBA are from different parts of the world, American coaches are predominantly running the head coaching positions. That will probably not change for a certain period, but the NBA has always been a very progressive league, so an international head coach might become a reality sooner than we think.