The Sacramento Kings recently hired Vlade Divac into a front-office role, after he spent some of his post-playing years doing humanitarian work back home in Serbia and serving as president of the country’s Olympic Committee.
Divac, a beloved member of the great Kings teams from the turn of the century, is thrilled to be back in the NBA.
The big fella was a notorious flopper during the latter stages of his career, but even Vlade thinks today’s NBAers take it too far.
Per USA Today: :
Q: There aren’t as many quality big men in the league today as there were when you played. Why do you think that is? A: “Well, the league is changing every year. It changed when I came. It changed before me. First of all, we have to be thankful for all those guys in the ’60s and ’70s. They made this league one of the best sports leagues in the world. It’s good for basketball to grow. You have now more physical, more guys that — you know, guys who can play point guard, two-guard, small forward, even center in some points. Basically, anybody can play any position. […] I think the big guys, we lost that back-to-the-basket player. But it starts all from fundamentals, from early age when you really practice on those kinds of things. How to play when you have a back to the basket. (The Memphis Grizzlies’) Marc Gasol is, for me, who I really enjoy watching. He makes everybody better on the floor. And (Kings center) DeMarcus (Cousins) this year is kind of playing the same way. He’s playing his game, but he’s trying to make everybody else better on the floor. That’s something I learned from Magic (Johnson), and later on helped me when I played with Sacramento. I have a lot of respect for those guys where it’s not about me, it’s about the team.”
Q: So Vlade, I have to admit: Every time I get an e-mail from the NBA saying that somebody has been fined for flopping, I think of you. It comes with a video attachment, where we can see the crime in progress, and it has become this culture where it’s clearly not as acceptable as it was when you were perfecting the art. […] A: “Well you know what, obviously my flopping came because of Shaq (O’Neal). There’s no secret about it. That’s the only way I could try to draw attention to referees what’s going on (when his Kings played the Lakers). But after me, I think guys tried to overdo it. It takes fun from the game, so I’m glad they changed the rules. I support it.”
Q: Another time when you tend to pop into my consciousness is whenever I deal with Kobe Bryant. I sat down with him recently to talk about his new documentary, and it made me wonder: have you guys ever talked about that infamous trade in ’96. (Divac was traded from the Lakers to the Charlotte Hornets in the deal that gave the Lakers Bryant’s rights and set the stage for his storied career in Los Angeles.) […] A: “Maybe very briefly. My last year in the NBA, he was my teammate (in 2004-05). Or I would say, I was his teammate. It was fun. You know when you start something, and you make a big circle and you come to the end. It was a lovely story that I finished my career with Kobe, with somebody who I was traded for. I have a lot of respect for the guy. I think he’s definitely, by far, the best talent that I ever, ever played with. (It’s) obviously very close with Magic (Johnson) and Chris Webber, Glen Rice and Peja Stojakovic — it’s unbelievable experience for me to have a teammate like that next to me.”