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One would assume Zubac’s inspiration for becoming a pro basketball player would come from another European superstar like Dirk Nowitizki, but they’d assume incorrectly. The Croatian never thought he could become an NBA player until he saw another Croatian accomplish the task – his cousin, Zoran Planinić. “What really pushed me into chasing basketball even more was my cousin making the NBA too, in 2003,” Zubac said. “That’s when he got drafted.”
Drawing inspiration isn’t enough though, the work still needs to be done. It’s not exactly easy for anyone to make it in the NBA, let alone someone from a town of 5,000. “Sometimes it looked like it wasn’t possible, but I still went through everything,” Zubac said. “It paid off.” Zubac’s international road to the NBA involved moving away from home at a very young age to become dedicated towards his craft. “I had to move out when I was 14 and live by myself in the capital of Croatia,” Zubac said. “That’s when it got a little serious. From there, I played on the Croatian national team.”
What was it like playing the dream team? I heard the stories about how Scottie wanted you to himself, but what’s your side of the story? NBA: I didn’t expect that. The only way I knew about Michael and Scottie was because I was drafted. I was watching them the last three summers when I was with national team or getting ready for European or World championship. I would watch the Bulls live in the Finals, so once we got to Olympics and we had the United States in our group, I wasn’t expecting anything like that. I never met these guys. I didn’t know what was going on with them and management here in Chicago, I just got surprised by the intensity. I had some other things on my mind. My wife was about to deliver her first born. Our son, he was born two or three days later in the game against Germany. I’m not using it as an excuse, it did happen and I had a horrible game. I played much better in the Finals. When you get guarded by Michael or Scottie Pippen, I don’t think there are many players that would play good. At that time, the two best defenders in the world, maybe ever. – Toni
1 year ago via reddit