Vlade Divac is arguably one of the best European players to ever play the game. His accomplishments are many and helped spearhead a new wave of European players in the League. Looking at the whole of his career, the Sacramento Kings Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager has an argument to join the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
As many Kings fans remember, the Serbian center had a unique set of abilities. One of the best passing big men of all time, he could get the ball to every corner of the court. He had a soft and feathery touch around the hoop.
Despite playing a good amount of his career in Europe, Divac’s NBA stats are still impressive. He is top 50 in League history, in terms of total rebounds. Along this same line, he is the 32nd best in total offensive rebounds and top 50 in total defensive rebounds in NBA history.
Vlade is also top 30 in career blocks. He helped anchor several defensive units throughout his playing career, including the Kings teams of the early 2000s. He ended his career with a respectable 1.4 blocks per game average.
No. 21 was the first player born and trained outside of the United States to play at least 1000 NBA games. He helped establish a confidence among front offices in foreign-born players to handle the rigors of the best basketball League in the world. He made the NBA All-Rookie First Team and later he made an NBA All-Star game. He is one of four basketball players born and trained in Europe to have his number retired by a team.
Divac is also part of a very exclusive group - he is one of seven players in NBA history to record at least 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots. The other players on that list include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol and Hakeem Olajuwon. Except for Divac, all the retired players that have accomplished the feat are in the Hall of Fame or surefire inductees when they are eligible.
Springfield is unique because it recognizes the accomplishments outside of the League more so than its Hall of Fame counterparts in other sports. In addition to his stellar NBA career, Divac’s international career pushes his case over the top.
He was awarded the Mister Europa Player of the Year in 1989, celebrating him as the best European player in the world, across all the professional leagues. He was named among FIBA’s 50 Greatest Players, as well as 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors.
He helped earn a silver medal in the 1988 Olympiad with the Yugoslavian national team. In 1996, Divac’s Serbian national team earned him another silver Olympic medal. He has won multiple gold medals with his national teams in FIBA EuroBasket—1989, 1991, and 1995. His team won bronze 1987 and 1999. In the FIBA World Cup, he helped lead his teams to gold in 1990 and 2002. They also earned bronze in 1986. Not only were his accomplishments among the top of the international game, they were consistent over a period of a decade and a half.
With the entirety of his career considered, Divac deserves a long look to be enshrined in Springfield.