Žarko Varajić (Serbian Cyrillic: Жарко Варајић; 26 December 1951 – 23 June 2019) was a Serbian professional basketball player and executive. He represented the Yugoslavia national team internationally.
|Born||December 26, 1951|
Nikšić, PR Montenegro, FPR Yugoslavia
|Died||June 23, 2019 (aged 67)|
|Listed height||2.02 m (6 ft 7 1⁄2 in)|
|Listed weight||91 kg (201 lb)|
|NBA draft||1973 / Undrafted|
|1981–1982||Al Ain BC|
|Career highlights and awards|
Growing up in Nikšić, Varajić pursued football in the FK Sutjeska youth system before fully devoting to basketball by switching to the basketball club within the same sports society — KK Sutjeska — and playing for its youth teams.
In 1970, eighteen-year-old Varajić joined KK Bosna, a club competing in the second-tier level of Yugoslav basketball. With young players such as Ante Đogić, Rođeni Krvavac, and center Zdravko Čečur on its roster, the club sought a league promotion to the top-tier level Yugoslav First League, a feat that had been eluding them for decades.
During summer 1971, the club's head coaching post was taken over by the 24-year-old Bogdan Tanjević, who had just retired from playing. The young squad led by a young rookie head coach, and with the new acquisition of 22-year-old Svetislav Pešić from KK Partizan, the only player on the roster to have previously played top-tier level basketball -  managed to gain promotion to the top-tier level Yugoslav First League.
In 1979, Varajić scored 47 points – the record for the number of points scored in the finals of the FIBA European Champions' Cup (later called the EuroLeague), during the period in which he played with Bosna Sarajevo, against the Italian club Emerson Varese, in Bosna's triumph, by a score of 96-93, in Grenoble, France.
National team careerEdit
Varajić was a member of the senior Yugoslav national basketball team. He played with Yugoslavia in 126 games. With Yugoslavia, he won medals at the following tournaments: the gold medal at the 1974 Balkan Games, the gold medal at the 1975 Mediterranean Games, the gold medal at the 1976 Balkan Games, the silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympic Games, the gold medal at the 1977 EuroBasket, and the bronze medal at the 1979 EuroBasket.
- Manager for Marketing at the University Sports Association ``Bosnia``.
- Secretary General of the Federation of organizations for physical education of Sarajevo.
- Deputy Federal Minister of Sports.
- Sports Director of Men`s National Teams at the Basketball Federations of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Serbia.
- Member of the Olympic Committee of the Winter Olympic Games, in Sarajevo, in 1984.
- President of the Expert Council of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia, from 1987 to 1992 (golden years of Yugoslav basketball).
- President of the Programs` Commission of the Yugoslav Olympic Committee, from 1996 to 2000.
- Sports Director of the Yugoslav Olympic Team, at the Olympic Games in Sydney, in 2000.
- President of the Sports` Association, ``Sport for all`` of Serbia, from 2003 to 2006.
- Directly involved in the organization of the EuroBasket in Belgrade, in 2005.
- Director of the basketball tournament EYOF - European Youth Olympic Festival, in 2007.
- Directly involved in the organization of the 2005 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, and 2007 FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
- Director of the basketball tournament at the Summer Universiade, in Belgrade, in 2009.
- Actively worked on the realization of the project "National Awards".
Varajić came to Sarajevo in 1970 as a 17 years old teen to study and play. He lived there until break-out of Bosnian War in early 1992, and since then he has been living in Belgrade. He graduated from the University of Physical Education, Academy for Basketball Coaches - Basketball and Academy for Sports Managers Section.
Awards and honors as a playerEdit
- 3× Yugoslav League Champion: (1978, 1980, 1983)
- 2× Yugoslav Cup Winner: (1978, 1984)
- FIBA Korać Cup Runner-up: (1978)
- FIBA European Champions Cup (EuroLeague) Champion: (1979)
- FIBA Intercontinental Cup Runner-up: (1979)
- Super Oscar for the best European player in all European Cups: (1979)
- The highest national honor of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Honored May 25th, 1980)
- The highest national honor of the City of Sarajevo (Honored April 6th, 1979)
- Three golden pins of SOFKA of Yugoslavia
- Decoration of ``Nemanja``, the first order of FR Yugoslavia
- Decoration of the Yugoslav Flag, the first order