Krešimir Ćosić

Krešimir "Krešo" Ćosić (Croatian pronunciation: [krěʃimir t͡ɕɔ̌ːsit͡ɕ]; 26 November 1948 – 25 May 1995) was a Croatian[1][2][3] professional basketball player and coach. He was a collegiate All-American at Brigham Young University.

Krešimir Ćosić
Krešimir Ćosić 1970.jpg
Ćosić with Yugoslavia 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.
NationalityCroatian
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight212 lb (96 kg)
Career information
CollegeBYU (1970–1973)
NBA draft1973 / Round: 5 / Pick: 84th overall
Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers
Playing career1964–1983
PositionCenter
Coaching career1976–1991
Career history
As player:
1964–1969Zadar
1973–1976Zadar
1976–1978AŠK Olimpija
1978–1980Sinudyne Bologna
1980–1983Cibona
As coach:
1976–1978AŠK Olimpija
1984–1985Jugoplastika
1985–1987Yugoslavia
1987–1988Virtus Bologna
1988–1991AEK Athens
Career highlights and awards
As player:
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
FIBA Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006
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). In 2006, he was inducted inton 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 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.[4][5]

Early club careerEdit

Ćosić was born in Zagreb, SR Croatia, 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.[6]

College career and NBA draftEdit

 
Class of 1996 - Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

In the summer of 1968, Ćosić was in a European team with Finnish player Veikko Vainio. Vainio, a student at Brigham Young University, 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.[6] 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.[7] 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, the Smith Field House could not hold in all fans so there is a saying about the Marriott Center – Stan Watts built it, Marriott for it, and Krešo filled it.[8]

Late club careerEdit

At the 1973 NBA draft, Ćosić was picked by the Los Angeles Lakers, in the 5th round (84th overall).[9] 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.

After that, he played with AŠK Olimpija (1976–1978), with Virtus Bologna (1978–1980), and with Cibona Zagreb (1980–1983). Cibona's winning streak in the 80's was largely because thanks to Ćosić they won their first European Cup.

National team careerEdit

Ćosić made his national team debut for 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.

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.[10][11] 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.[12]

Coaching careerEdit

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 to 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, Toni Kukoč.

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

DiplomacyEdit

Cosic turned down coaching offers so that he could help Croatia during war-time in the early 90's. 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.[13]

Church lifeEdit

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 LDS presiding priesthood holder, in post-communist Croatia. He was baptized by Hugh Nibley, one of the LDS church's most celebrated scholars. Ćosić also introduced the LDS Church to the former 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."[14]

WriterEdit

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 theatre and arts. In the 80's 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.

DeathEdit

In the years following his career in basketball, Ćosić worked in the United States, as a Croatian diplomat, at the 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's lymphoma.[11] 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.[15]

HonorsEdit

[16]

LandmarksEdit

  • 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 Pasman that bears his name.
  • There is a memorial basket in Zadar where he started his basketball career as a child.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Croatian Basketball Hall of Fame". www.eurobasket.com.
  2. ^ "The Krešimir Ćosić Hall". www.dalekovod.hr.
  3. ^ "Famous people born in Zadar / Krešimir Ćosić". www.tzzadar.hr.
  4. ^ "A Dalmatian Sensation". www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com. 5 June 1995.
  5. ^ "National Hero". Church News.
  6. ^ a b Stankovic, Vladimir. "Kresimir Cosic, a player ahead of his time". EuroLeague.
  7. ^ "KRESIMIR COSIC". Brigham Young University.
  8. ^ "Top 10 BYU athletes of all time". www.ksl.com. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  9. ^ Lakersweb Draft.
  10. ^ "The day when basketball of Zadar got the shiniest pearl". aba-liga.com. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  11. ^ a b Krešimir Ćosić. sports-reference.com
  12. ^ Fiba profile archive. fiba.com
  13. ^ Congressional record 1995
  14. ^ Nibley, Eloquent Witness (2008, ISBN 9781606410035), page 261.
  15. ^ Harmon, Dick (8 June 2015). "Kresimir Cosic honored in Croatia, teammate on hand for celebration". Deseret News.
  16. ^ List of all awards

External linksEdit