Friday Facts: Goran Dragic

Goran Dragić sat down with HEAT.com after a recent practice to discuss his off-court interests and other things people may not know about him.

Growing up, who was your favorite basketball player? Was it someone from the US, or maybe an overseas player?

It’s a funny thing because, that player he used to play here for Miami HEAT. He’s from Serbia, Predrag [Sasha] Danilović he was one of my favorite players and of course Sasha [Aleksandar] Djordjević, but then when I got older and I started to follow the NBA, then of course Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and those guys.

What’s a moment in your life that’s shaped you into becoming the person you are?

It’s a lot of moments, but probably the first time that I went away from home, I was 17 years old. My first time alone in Spain playing basketball – that kind of made me tougher, especially for my character and my personality. It’s not easy when you’re alone. Some nights you have bad games or bad days and it’s not easy. I think that is the one thing that changed me, to make me a better person, a tougher guy. And, of course the birth of my son and my daughter.

What was your most memorable game growing up?

Probably the European Championship. We won the Gold medal under 21 years old. Then, of course winning the National League with Union Olimpija. Then, probably like, 2013 European Basketball at home, we were hosting that. It was an unbelievable experience because you’re representing your country in front of the full arena, 13,000 people and they’re cheering for you and you’re playing at home.

So, you go home, just finished up a game, what’s your favorite TV show or movie to put on?

I’m watching a lot of TV shows right now. It’s hard to choose which one, but I loved Entourage and Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air] back in the day. Now I love Black Sails and I’m really excited to watch Game of Thrones. It’s probably one of the best ones out there.

If you weren’t playing basketball, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be involved in sports still, maybe a soccer player. I started playing soccer first and then basketball. I had a leg injury when I was young and my mom said, ‘come on, try to choose a different sport.’ I still love soccer, I still watch it a lot though. I don’t know if I’d be a professional, but I would try though.

Name the top musicians you’re listening to right now.

Oh, it’s all domestic from my country…

Hit me.

Ceca, she’s from Serbia, then, Mia Borisavljević.

Would you say there’s a player you’ve modeled your game after, and if so, who would that player be?

Ah, you know, when I grew up, you want to of course be Michael Jordan or Allen Iverson but it’s kind of tough. I’m a lefty, so I really love Manu Ginobli’s games. Some players said we're similar a little bit. I did like Tony Parker, how he was driving to the hoop and I feel like I connected a little bit with him, so it’s really more players than one.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

My family, of course. Yeah, right now it’s pretty hard not to live without my phone, haha. I’m not really proud of that, I know that sometimes I’m on my cell phone too much but I’ll try to get better at that.

Favorite type of food?

Oh, that’s a good one. I love everything. I like to experience all different kinds of foods. I like seafood, I like Mexican food, it’s really hard to say...

Sounds like you’ve got a really wide-ranging palate.

Yeah, yeah. But I’m an open book about that. I like to try everything.

What’s your favorite workout or drill?

Probably some shooting games, when you shoot with your teammates and have fun but, with drills, in my profession I’m a point guard so I need to play a lot of pick and rolls and this usually involves ball handling, trying to create shots for others or for myself.

What was your favorite subject in school?

Geography and some History, learning about different places and countries.

What has been, up to this point, your most memorable experience as a professional basketball player?

Probably my rookie year when I got drafted. The first time you get on the court, the first time that I stepped and played some minutes I thought ‘oh man, I cannot believe it I made it.’ I said to myself, ‘I made it, I’m here.’ But at the same time I was scared, because I didn’t want to leave, you know what I mean? I want to stay in this league. So basically, it made me work harder to develop my game and stay in this league for a long time.

Have you thought about what you’d like to do after you’re done with basketball?

I’d like to be involved with basketball, but with young kids. Not like, professionally to be a coach. I’ve got my camp back home. I love to work with kids; I think that’s something I’m good at, and I’d try to give something back and hopefully show them the right path and teach them skills they can use anywhere.

What’s been your most unusual experience with a fan?

Well, back in Europe there was one game we played in Croatia. Ex-Yugoslavia was an unstable environment, with the whole war going on so basically Serbians and Croatians at that time they didn’t like each other very much. So, we had some Serbians on our team and we were playing Croatia. The sign for Serbia is ‘three fingers’ [extended thumb, index, and ring fingers]. If you do this, that means you’re Serbian. So the guy hits a three-pointer, and he lifts all three fingers, and of course the arena went crazy, and they started throwing coins and lighters and whole sections of fans came on to the floor. That was probably the only time I was really scared for my life. We ran back in the locker room, you don’t know if the police are going to defend you. That was probably one of the most frightening moments in my life.

What was your ‘welcome to the NBA’ moment?

When I came to the [Phoenix] Suns, I arrived at the airport and the limo was waiting there. Then, they took me to the arena and they had my face on the big screen and that was kind of cool, I never expected that.

Name three historical figures you’d like to have lunch with.

Oh that’s a good one. Probably Alexander the Great, he was such a unique figure who conquered a lot of territory. What fascinates me was that he had all this land, and all these enemies, but that he was able to keep them by his side and they didn’t fight against him. That’s pretty tough to do if you ask me. You invade their country and then work with him? I like a lot of history so… maybe I’d like to meet Cleopatra, Julius Caesar. I would go way, way back, just to see and experience that.

Favorite car you’ve owned?

Probably the car I have now, a Mercedes C63 AMG. It’s like a small sports car, it’s not that expensive, but it’s not too cheap.

Favorite outdoor activity?

Soccer, and I like to play tennis too.