Krešimir "Krešo" Ćosić (Croatian pronunciation: [krěʃimir t͡ɕɔ̌ːsit͡ɕ]; 26 November 1948 – 25 May 1995) was a Croatian-Yugoslavian professional basketball player and coach. He was a collegiate All-American at Brigham Young University. He revolutionized basketball in Yugoslavia and was the first basketball player in the world to play all five positions.

Krešimir Ćosić
Ćosić with the Yugoslavian basketball team in 1970
Personal information
Born(1948-11-26)26 November 1948
Zagreb, PR Croatia, FPR Yugoslavia
Died25 May 1995(1995-05-25) (aged 46)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight212 lb (96 kg)
Career information
CollegeBYU (1970–1973)
NBA draft1973: 5th round, 84th overall pick
Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers
Playing career1964–1983
Coaching career1976–1991
Career history
As player:
1976–1978AŠK Olimpija
1978–1980Sinudyne Bologna
As coach:
1976–1978AŠK Olimpija
1987–1988Virtus Bologna
1988–1991AEK Athens
Career highlights and awards
As player:
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
FIBA Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006
Men's basketball
Representing  Yugoslavia
Summer Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1980 Moscow Team
Silver medal – second place 1968 Mexico City Team
Silver medal – second place 1976 Montreal Team
FIBA World Cup
Gold medal – first place 1970 Yugoslavia Team
Gold medal – first place 1978 Philippines Team
Silver medal – second place 1967 Uruguay Team
Silver medal – second place 1974 Puerto Rico Team
FIBA Eurobasket
Gold medal – first place 1973 Spain Team
Gold medal – first place 1975 Yugoslavia Team
Gold medal – first place 1977 Belgium Team
Silver medal – second place 1969 Italy Team
Silver medal – second place 1971 West Germany Team
Silver medal – second place 1981 Czechoslovakia Team
Bronze medal – third place 1979 Italy Team
Mediterranean Games
Gold medal – first place 1967 Tunis Team
Gold medal – first place 1971 Izmir Team
European U-18 Championship
Silver medal – second place 1966 Italy Under-18
Ćosić statue at Višnjik Sports Centre in Zadar

In 1996, Ćosić became only the third international player ever elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (the second male player). He is one of 62 people in the world that received the FIBA Order of Merit. In 2006, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2007, he was also an inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame. The Croatian Basketball Cup, and KK Zadar's home arena, are named after him. Ćosić was voted best Croatian athlete of the 20th century twice; by Croatian Sports News and by Croatian National Television.

Ćosić was a notable church leader and missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as the deputy ambassador of Croatia to the U.S., in Washington, D.C.[1] [2]

Early club career edit

Ćosić was born in Zagreb (PR Croatia, FPR Yugoslavia), on 26 November 1948, to Ante and Darinka Ćosić. He was raised in Zadar, and in 1965, he started his club basketball playing career, by playing with KK Zadar. While with Zadar, he won three Yugoslav League titles: in 1965, 1967, and 1968.[3]

College career and NBA draft edit

In the summer of 1968, Ćosić was in a European team with Finnish player Veikko Vainio. Vainio, a student at Brigham Young University (BYU), told him about life in college, and invited him to play for the BYU Cougars. Ćosić accepted this invitation, and moved to the United States, in 1969.[3] In his freshman year, he played in 12 games for the freshman team, averaging 17.4 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. In his sophomore year, he averaged 15.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, leading BYU to the 1971 WAC Championship.

In his junior year, he again led his team to the WAC Championship, averaging 22.3 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, and being awarded All-American Honors by the United Press International, making him the first non-American player to achieve that. In the 1972 NBA draft, he was picked by the Portland Trail Blazers, in the 10th round (144th overall), but he opted to stay with BYU.

As a senior, he averaged 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, and again was given All-American Honors, by the United Press International.[4] His career college basketball averages were 18.9 points, and 11.8 rebounds per game.

The Marriott Center, at BYU, was built during Ćosić's career at BYU, as the Smith Field House could not accommodate the growing number of fans, so there is a saying about the Marriott Center – Stan Watts built it, Marriott paid for it, and Krešo filled it.[5]

Late club career edit

At the 1973 NBA draft, Ćosić was picked by the Los Angeles Lakers, in the 5th round (84th overall).[6] He rejected several professional offers from the NBA and ABA, and returned home to Croatia, where he again played with KK Zadar, from 1973 to 1976. He was responsible for bringing the first American to play for a Yugoslav club team. He brought Doug Richards to Zadar.[7]

After that, he played with AŠK Olimpija (1976–1978), with Virtus Bologna (1978–1980), and with Cibona Zagreb (1980–1983). Ćosić helped lead Cibona to their first European Cup.

National team career edit

Ćosić made his national team debut for Team Yugoslavia, at the age of 17, after being called up to the senior team by head coach Ranko Žeravica. He won a silver medal at the 1967 FIBA World Championship. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, he won another silver medal.[8]

Ćosić holds the record for playing the most games for a national team (303) and was part of three generations and holds the most basketball awards/medals in Croatia. In total, Ćosić played in four Summer Olympic Games: 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980 in Moscow, when he led his team as captain to the gold medal.[9] [10] He previously had led Yugoslavia to a pair of FIBA World Cup gold medals, at the 1970 FIBA World Championship, and at the 1978 FIBA World Championship.[11]

Coaching career edit

He first coached the Zadar team upon returning from BYU in 1973. However, he found it too exhausting being a coach, club director and player. In 1976 he coached the Ljubljana Brest team and was at the same time a player for Zadar (both teams played in the same league). Following his playing days, Ćosić returned to coaching, and he led the senior Yugoslav national team to a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and two bronze medals at the 1986 FIBA World Championship, and the 1987 EuroBasket. Even though no one agreed with him, Ćosić insisted on including young players in the national team and was the first to give them a chance, they included: Dino Rađa, Vlade Divac and Toni Kukoč.

He also recognized a young talent in Dejan Bodiroga, whom he helped set off his career.

Off the basketball court edit

Diplomacy edit

Ćosić turned down coaching offers so that he could help Croatia during war-time in the early 1990s. He was positioned in the embassy of Croatia to the USA, as the deputy ambassador in Washington D.C. He was the only person at the time able to help in fixing misconceptions about the war. His strong connections helped Croatia and he received the Freedom Award for contributing to advancing peace and reconciliation to all ethnic groups in Croatia.[12]

Church life edit

During his time at Brigham Young University, Ćosić converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he later served as the presiding priesthood holder in post-communist Croatia. He was baptized by Hugh Nibley, one of the Church's most celebrated scholars. Ćosić also introduced the Church to Yugoslavia. He translated the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants into Croatian. According to Nibley, Ćosić told him, "There are a hundred reasons why I should not join the Church, and only one reason why I should - because it is true."[13]

Writer edit

Ćosić was known to carry a suitcase full of books wherever he traveled. He was an atypical athlete, reading, analyzing and noting. He always had the latest gadget at hand and was obsessed with technology. He listened to classical music and loved the theater and arts. In the 1980s, he started writing his autobiography which was never completed. His daughter, Ana, published his writings in May 2019 in Croatian under the book name Play, Believe, Live. The book gives an inside view of Ćosić's sports career and his theories about sports in general.

Death edit


In the years following his career in basketball, Ćosić worked in the United States, as a diplomat, at the Croatian embassy in Washington, D.C., having helped secure the land where the embassy now stands. Ćosić died in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1995, of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[10] He was buried in the Mirogoj Cemetery, under the Arcades, in Zagreb, Croatia. People came from all over former Yugoslavia to his funeral, even though there was a war at the time. He was survived by his wife, Ljerka, his two daughters, and his son, Krešimir. [14]

Honors edit


Landmarks edit

  • The Croatian landmark formerly known as Califfi Castle now bears his name in his honor.
  • The Krešimir Ćosić Sports Arena in Zadar, the most versatile Sports Hall in Croatia.
  • There is a statue looking at the Krešimir Ćosić Sports Arena in Zadar.
  • There is a square in Zagreb, Croatia, that bears his name (Trg Krešimira Ćosića).
  • There is a street in Zadar that bears his name.
  • There is a street in Vukovar that bears his name.
  • There is a street in Dobropoljana, Island Pašman that bears his name.
  • There is a Memorial Basket in Zadar where he started his Basketball Career as a child.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Scorecard - 06.05.95 - SI Vault",, 2 December 2012, archived from the original on 2 December 2012, retrieved 2 December 2012
  2. ^ "National Hero". Church News. 21 January 2006. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  3. ^ a b Stankovic, Vladimir (30 May 2023). "Kresimir Cosic, a player ahead of his time". EuroLeague.
  4. ^ "KRESIMIR COSIC". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  5. ^ "Top 10 BYU athletes of all time". Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Los Angeles Lakers Draft Picks",, archived from the original on 27 January 2013, retrieved 27 January 2013
  7. ^ "#24 Doug Richards". Men's Basketball. BYU Athletics. Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  8. ^ Deseret News 1999-2000 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. 1998. p. 555. ISBN 1573454915.
  9. ^ "The day when basketball of Zadar got the shiniest pearl". Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  10. ^ a b Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Krešimir Ćosić". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
  11. ^ " Players". Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  12. ^ 1995 Congressional Record, Vol. 141, Page S8083
  13. ^ Nibley, Hugh (2008). Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News. p. 261. ISBN 9781606410035.
  14. ^ Harmon, Dick (8 June 2015). "Kresimir Cosic honored in Croatia, teammate on hand for celebration". Retrieved 6 September 2023.
  15. ^ "Awards and acknowledgements - Udruga dani Krešimira Ćosića". Retrieved 6 September 2023.

External links edit