Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vlade Honoured - JR Got Payback

Divac never assisted on an autograph to a young punta.

Vlade Divac was recently honoured by being inducted into the Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

It is quiet obvious that Divac has been very active in helping out in many communities worldwide. Congrats to Vlade and all those other Serbian players that have helped those kids that are less fortunate than most.

When my Serbian friend passed on the article link (above) he reminded me how good a person Vlade is. This happened to open an old wound that had just healed from personal experience with Vlade Divac.

It was back in 1990 when I was on a "Pro Ball" tour of the States. You know the ones, where you play games against high schools, go to Disneyland and the highlight was going to an NBA game.

Well, we finally made it to the NBA game in Los Angles. Now this skinny kid from Toowoomba was dead set pumped to see the Lakers and the Sonics at the Forum.

Our touring party found our "nose bleed" seats right before tipoff. I'm thinking to myself, "this may be on of those once in a life time opportunities." So I start perusing the Forum for a better seat. Bang, I found one in the third row.

I work those stairs like a Jane Fonda workout to get there before some Hollywood celeb decides to join the game at halftime. Any amount of time spent in that seat gave me a chance to see "Big Game" James Worthy finish the fast break like only he could.

Low and behold the punt worked out out for the entire game. Third row for the majority of an NBA game at the Forum, I'll take it. I just had to settle for sitting behind "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler instead of Jack Nicholson.

Wow, my night had reached all my expectations but I thought I would try and hunt down some autographs after the game. Bushing my tour group, I high-tailed it to the back entrance to where the players would exit for home.

It seemed like an eternity before any movement came from the exit. First, the Sonics team bus left. The "Glove" (Gary Payton) seemed to be looking me straight in the eyes as they left for their hotel. I could only dream of him and me one day talking trash on the same court.

The first Laker to come out of the tunnel was my man Vlade Divac. I had my Hoop magazine open to his page ready for him to sign. Once he was in ear shot I said, "excuse me Sir, would you mind signing this please?"

"Not today", he murmured in his European accent as he began to dart up (light a cigarette).

Well, talk about shattering a young punta's dreams.

Fast forward to Belgrade, Yugoslavia 2002. The Boomers are playing the host nation from Yugoslavia.

The Serbs are loaded. All their NBA players (Divac, Stojakovic, Pavlovic, Jaric, Radmanovic and the great Euro player Bodiroga) were on deck in preparation for the World Championships later that month. (side note - They won the Gold at the 2002 World Champs.)

Everyone around the world that had an interest in this game could not have predicted what was going to happen next.

We boat raced the home team out of their own gym in front off 15 000 silent and dumb founded fans.

(Just as well you asked, JR could not be contained. The Serbs had no answer to the step back threes I was raining on them. I finished with a game high 23, I believe.)

The final buzzer went off and both teams went along and did the traditional shake of the hands after the game.

I was shaking all kinds of hands as I was rather excited about beating a team full of NBA and European stars.

But the moment had come. It was Vlade who was next in line and all my mind could do was go back to that night in Los Angles. My mind was working overtime. What should I do? This is the guy that dogged me for an autograph twelve years ago.

I just walked straight by him like he was never there. The puzzled look on his face showed he had no idea as to what just happened. But deep down I had just executed the best possible payback.

Maybe a little childish on my behalf, but I learnt a lesson that night while I was standing in that Los Angles winter night breeze.

Never brush a fan who is seeking an autograph.

Hoops News:
Bogut's tells us how to fix the NBL. Public awareness is a good start.
Perth sign Weigh.
James Harvey cut over being cut.
Lindsay Tait to lead Kiwi's. Somehow I don't think CJ and Mills are losing sleep.
Former Hawks import Doug Overton is named NBA assistant coach.
Andersen to play on Europe tour.
Bogut believes a medal in not out of the question.
Jawai Draft talk. more and more
Miami Heat looking to trade the #2 pick?
Shaq has badge revoked after rap on Kobe.
Blazers make a trade.
A great read on Len Bias.

Who is Len Bias? Watch and learn.

North Carolina vs Maryland 1984 - Bias, Jordan, Adrian Branch and more


DJ Rod said...

LOVED that story!!!

I got brushed by Shareef Abdul Raheem in Melb before the Aus v USA game in 2000.

I ended up giving him a little spray...

Dirty Serb said...

Vlade dadi he likes to party!

John Rillie said...

DJ Rod:

I was at that game as well. I have another ripper story from that trip. Maybe next week it can come out.

John Rillie said...

Dirty Serb:

Vlade likes to party as long as there are darts and coffee present.

DJ Rod said...

that was the most eventfull game EVER - the whole crowd were in awe of the yanks - almost to the stage that they were going for them instead of their own country - UNTIL they decied to pick a fight with OUR GAZEY!!!

Then Billy dislocated his elbow.

I got kicked out of the foyer of their hotel for loitering - so I hung out near their bus until I got all but one signature - guess who???

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Vlade is still crying over the incident...and wiping his eyes with a handful of his millions of dollars he still has left even after donating enough to charity to become a humanitarian.