Vlade Divac is known for a lot of things. Being a versatile center, having a high basketball IQ, being a humanitarian and one of the best “floppers” of all-time are just a few ways to describe Divac.
His sixteen year career in the NBA seemed to come full circle by starting and then retiring as a Laker. His post-NBA career seems to be following the same track as well.
In 1989 the Los Angeles Lakers chose a unique center from Serbia as the 26th pick in the first round. Divac was the first draft pick to hail from Serbia for the Lakers. He had been playing profession basketball for European teams since 1983.
Prior to his playing for the Lakers, Divac already had two major victories under his belt. He won a Bronze medal with his Yugoslavian national team in the 1986 Spain FIBA World Championships, and he won a Silver medal with Yugoslavia in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Joining the Lakers and the NBA in 1989, Divac was one of the first European players to transfer to the NBA, and was also one of the first European players to have a lasting impact on the league. Due to his impressive performance with European teams, especially with the Yugoslavian national team, Divac was named as one of the Euroleague’s 50 greatest contributors.
Divac studied under Laker and NBA legends, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson during his early days as a Laker. The retirement of Abdul-Jabbar left a gaping hole at the center position. However, Divac’s personality, despite barely knowing the English language, and mental drive for performing at a high, consistent level quickly won over the Lakers’ organization and fans.
With his quick adaptation to the American-style of basketball (primarily taught by Magic and Kareem), Divac saw his averages increase during the first six of the seven years that he played for LA. He ended his career averaging 11.8 points per game, while grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game.*