Igor Kokoskov Rumors
While Dragic’s confidence wavered, Nash, Grant Hill and assistant coaches kept him afloat as he doubted his decision to come to the U.S. “[Kokoskov] was my second father. When I came to the States, he speaks the same language as I do. He was there for me 24/7,” Dragic said. “I owe them a lot that I even succeed in the NBA because of him and Dan Majerle and those guys. “Igor was the main guy. He always talked to me. He always opened my eyes and my head. I always remember him saying, ‘Just put hard work in and be patient.’ He was always saying patience. At that time, I didn’t understand that well and now I really do, I really do. Even now I don’t see him as a coach. I see him as my friend.”
You have been part of the NBA for 17 years, you are the first European coach to achieve many milestones in your career in the States. However, this tournament with Slovenia can be called your biggest success? Igor Kokoskov: “I think so because it’s different when you are part of a team, part of the stuff and it’s different when you are coaching your own team. And that was one of the reasons that I took the job to coach in FIBA basketball. To have the opportunity to coach my own team, to make my own mistakes and to grow as a coach. In 2007 I got an invitation from Georgian basketball federation and they offered me a job. I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea, I didn’t know if I should do that or wait. I was also working as an assistant coach in the Serbian national team and Joe Dumars, the Pistons coach at the time, told me that if you want to grow as a coach, if you want to get better, you have to coach your own team. At that time I was also single, I didn’t have a family and using the summers to work was an available choice and a wise decision for me.
After this Eurobasket success, do you think that you will be the first European head coach in the NBA? Igor Kokoskov: “It’s hard to tell, it’s hard to predict. That’s something that you don’t control. You control your progression, you control your life. A lot of things have an impact on that decision. It’s the trust that the owner has to have in you in order to be a head coach. It’s really complicated and I think that there are many good international coaches who have the knowledge and the experience to work in the NBA. However, it’s a different market. I don’t think that an NBA owner will have the courage to hire someone that he doesn’t know. One that does not have an experience in that market. That’s the other reason why I keep myself close to the European market, in order to get more experience, but I also stay in the NBA and I wish, even if it’s something that I don’t control.
A serious car accident — a near-fatal head-on collision — changed all of that. Igor Kokoskov’s knee was mangled. His dreams of playing pro ball were shattered. His injuries took months to heal. As he lay in that hospital bed on many nights, he knew his playing days were finished. “I was still a teenager,” Kokoskov said. “It changed my life. I knew from that point on that I couldn’t play the game. But I was always in love with the game, so I told myself that I would stay in the game. I never had a doubt that I would stay in basketball, in some capacity.”