Zarko Paspalj Rumors
Larry Brown, the highly respected and peripatetic coach then in San Antonio, had familiar suspicions about international players. Also, the Spurs had just drafted a forward out of Arizona named Sean Elliott. Paspalj appeared in only 28 games and averaged a meager 2.6 points in the 1989-90 season, his only one with the Spurs, and then became a celebrated player in Greece’s pro league. “Zarko could have had a 47-inch vertical jump and been the best shooter in the world, and it wasn’t going to happen because Sean Elliott was the American who had been drafted,” Popovich said.
It also apparently did not help that Paspalj, a garrulous character, had seldom been asked to play defense in his career and adhered to a training regimen that included copious amounts of pizza and cigarettes. Popovich believed so strongly in Paspalj that he invited the forward to live with him. And he took Paspalj to a clinic in Boston, where a Russian doctor was supposed to be expert at curing smoking through hypnosis. Alas, the cure remained elusive. After Popovich picked up Paspalj from the doctor’s office in a taxi, he turned to give the driver directions. He then looked over to see Paspalj lighting up a cigarette.