Zarko Paspalj Rumors
Serbia was banned from participating in the Olympic Games of Barcelona due to the ongoing war and that put an obstacle to the national team in more ways than one according to Paspalj. “Surely we weren’t, but that’s not the question,” Paspalj said when asked if Serbia could beat the Dream Team, in an interview with Sputnik. “We lost three or four years of continuity, we lost one generation, a generation which was the best in Europe. Our players started playing in the NBA back in 1989, and probably after a few years, we could be an equal opponent (to the Dream Team). It is sad when you know they took something from you, something you earned it. I think we suffered a great injustice, but later we compensated that and we became the heroes of the nation.”
Paspalj talks about the gold medal that Serbia won in the 1995 EuroBasket Final after beating Arvydas Sabonis’ Lithuania in the Final. “You do not feel comfortable while it’s happening. That’s how it was before. We definitely did something great. We thought it was something completely natural and normal and we deserve to happen to us.”
Not longer than two months ago, Paspalj faced some health issues when suffering a stroke while in the USA. He recovered with the help of his good friend Gregg Popovich and now he says he feels significantly better. “I’m fine now. I couldn’t say the same a month ago. It was an unpleasant experience but I am a lot better now. I was lucky. I got many people near me worried.”
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.