Predrag "Saša" Danilović (Serbian Cyrillic: Предраг "Саша" Даниловић, pronounced [prêdraːɡ saːʃa danǐːloʋitɕ]; born February 26, 1970), usually referred to in English as Sasha Danilović, is a Serbian former professional basketball player, considered one of the best European shooting guards during the 1990s. Danilović was the EuroLeague Final Four MVP in 1992, was voted Mister Europa Player of the Year in 1998, and was Italian League MVP the same year.
Danilović with Virtus Bologna in 1995.
|Born||February 26, 1970|
Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia
|Listed height||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)|
|Listed weight||210 lb (95 kg)|
|High school||Cookeville (Cookeville, Tennessee)|
|NBA draft||1992 / Round: 2 / Pick: 43rd overall|
|Selected by the Golden State Warriors|
|Position||Shooting guard / Small forward|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Beginning in 2007, Danilović served as the president of Partizan, the club with which he spent six years as a player, during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 2015, he resigned from the position. On 15 December 2016, Danilović became the president of the Basketball Federation of Serbia (KSS).
Early life and careerEdit
Born in Sarajevo to a family of Herzegovinian Serbs (father Milan from the Orašje Zubci village near Trebinje and mother Vuka from the Kukričje village near Bileća), Danilović grew up in the Alipašino polje neighbourhood near the RTV Sarajevo main building. During adolescence, his summers and winters were mostly spent in his parents' respective villages and the town of Trebinje where he had aunts and uncles.
A tall and lanky kid, Danilović excelled in various sports, including soccer, speed skating, and street basketball. Already well versed in streetball, he started playing organized basketball in KK Bosna's youth setup under youth coach Mladen Ostojić. The player's talent was evident immediately and it didn't take long before he started receiving attention from bigger Yugoslav clubs such as KK Partizan whose assistant coach Duško Vujošević got alerted about the youngster's talents by the team's point guard Željko Obradović who spotted Danilović during summer 1985 at an inter-republic youth basketball tournament on Mount Zlatibor. Young Danilović played for a select team of players from SR Bosnia-Herzegovina at the tournament.
By late 1985, Vujošević started courting the fifteen-year-old. Getting Danilović and his parents to agree to a move to Belgrade proved to be the easy part; the real challenge was getting his club KK Bosna to sign off on the transfer. Danilović wasn't under a professional contract with the club, but according to Yugoslav Basketball Federation (KSJ) rules, being a youth system prospect he needed his club's permission to complete the move. In Danilović's own words: "The Bosna people weren't too keen on me at all while I was there; they even planned on loaning me out to other Sarajevo-area clubs, which I didn't want at all. But then Vujošević started sniffing around, and they suddenly wanted to keep me. Also, Bosna's club president Mirza Delibašić and Partizan's vice-president Dragan Kićanović were good friends from their playing days so that created additional awkwardness and the whole thing dragged out for a while".
Since Bosna didn't seem willing to let him go, by summer 1986, Danilović and Partizan decided to act unilaterally as the player moved to Belgrade knowing full well he'd have to sit out a year before taking part in official competitions. The move marked the beginning of a long friendship and professional association between Danilović and Vujošević with the twenty-eight-year-old coach initially acting as mentor to the sixteen-year-old player. By now Vujošević also moved up in the Partizan club hierarchy, becoming head coach in place of Vladislav Lučić while young Danilović trained with the first team as well as individually. Due to the unfortunate administrative situation, Danilović could only practice with Partizan players, which he did vigorously and devotedly up to 7 or 8 hours per day. He later said that it wasn't until his arrival at Partizan that he started training seriously. His living arrangements were provided for by the club; they put him up in a room at the JNA Stadium that he shared with youngster teammates Oliver Popović and Popović's brother. Furthermore, in accordance with his parent's wishes, the club ensured he also pursued his full-time secondary education by getting enrolled in the streamlined Petar Drapšin Technical High School. However, unable to make the classes due to long and frequent practices, he soon switched to part-time education at the streamlined touristic high school. Discussing his first days in Belgrade and arrival to a new club, Danilović later said:
Certain people at Partizan liked me very much, but there were also those within the club who thought I was a 'neanderthal from Sarajevo' because I was a very brazen kid and I practiced like an animal. At that moment, for me, Vujošević was both a coach and a father. He molded me into a basketball player and into a man. It was from him that I learned to devote attention to individual work. I realized that talent without work means absolutely nothing. Even with hard work, sometimes it's still not enough because you don't have good fortune. Luckily I had it.
Simultaneously KK Partizan tried to obtain permission to officially register their new player while Bosna for their part launched a process against the player with KSJ, which ruled in their favour, and young Danilović had another year added to his ban from playing competitive basketball for any age group within Partizan's system.
Faced with new developments over the length of his ban, in the summer of 1987, seventeen-year-old Danilović moved to Cookeville, Tennessee, enrolling at Cookeville High School where he was a basketball, track, and water polo star coming in second place to Daren Matthews at the school meet. However, only seven months later, in February 1988, he went back to Belgrade. Coming back to SFR Yugoslavia from the United States, Danilović resumed practicing with Partizan, though still unable to play in official games with them. His living arrangements also changed; the club moved him to Hotel Putnik in New Belgrade for a short time before eventually putting him up in an apartment in Blok 45 that he also shared with Popović. In summer 1988, Danilović got included in the Yugoslavia under-18 national team that competed at the European Championship for Juniors on home soil in Titov Vrbas and Srbobran. Coached by his mentor Vujošević and playing alongside promising Yugoslav juniors Arijan Komazec, Žan Tabak, Rastko Cvetković, etc., Danilović led the team to the gold medal.
In the summer of 1988, Danilović's two-year ban finally expired and the player was free to suit up for Partizan. Already familiar with the players he had been practicing with for more than a year, the eighteen-year-old joined a roster laden with talent at all positions — twenty-one-year-old point guard Saša Đorđević, twenty-two-year-old forward Žarko Paspalj who could play both the three and four positions, twenty-two-year-old small forward Ivo Nakić, twenty-year-old versatile center Vlade Divac, and his twenty-one-year-old backup Miroslav Pecarski as well as a pair of experienced twenty-eight-year-olds: backup point guard Željko Obradović and backup center Milenko Savović. Starting small forward Goran Grbović (who often also played the shooting guard position) left the club for Oximesa that summer, opening up space for incoming Danilović. Coming off the season in which they made the EuroLeague Final Four (eliminated by Maccabi in the semifinal) and lost to emerging Jugoplastika in the Yugoslav League playoff final series, the young Partizan team was looking to reclaim the domestic league title.
Young Danilović immediately got big minutes at shooting guard, putting in a promising debut campaign, especially excelling in defensive tasks while contributing modest 5.6 points per game offensively (123 points over 21 league appearances). Partizan finished the regular season in first place with a 16-6 record, same as Jugoplastika, but with better basket difference, meaning the Belgrade club would have the home court advantage in the playoffs.
Winning both cup competitions that season — the FIBA Korać Cup and the Yugoslav Cup — came as a great confidence boost for the young squad. The two trophies came in quick succession during mid March 1989 — on Thursday, 16 March, Partizan went to Cantù for the first leg of the Korać Cup final away versus Wiwa Vismara losing by 13 points with Danilović getting a starting assignment and recording 10 points, followed by travelling straight to Maribor to play Jugoplastika in the Yugoslav Cup final on Sunday, 19 March, and winning 87-74, before returning home for the return leg of the Korać Cup final on home court in Hala sportova on Wednesday, 22 March, and winning by 19 to overturn their first leg deficit and take the trophy. Danilović, this time coming off the bench, again contributed with 10 points in the return leg, getting his name on the second major trophy within three days.
Back on the domestic league front, in the playoff semifinal, Partizan easily eliminated crosstown rivals Crvena Zvezda, setting up the final rematch with Jugoplastika that had won that season's EuroLeague in the meantime. The best-of-three final series started in Belgrade, but right away Partizan lost the home court advantage by dropping the opening game 73-74. The series shifted to Split where Jugoplastika won 75-70, beating Partizan to the league championship for the second straight season.
A testament to his brilliant debut season, in summer 1989 Danilović got called up for the Yugoslav national team training camp by head coach Dušan Ivković ahead of EuroBasket 1989, eventually making the final 12-man squad where he played alongside club teammates Divac and Paspalj. Coming back to Partizan later that summer, the roster went through major changes as both Divac and Paspalj left after signing NBA contracts, with Lakers and Spurs, respectively, point guard Đorđević went to serve his mandatory Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) stint thus missing most of the season, while head coach Vujošević left for Spanish club Oximesa from Granada, taking veteran center Savović with him. Reba Ćorković, who previously coached the club during two separate stints in the mid-1970s and early 1980s (winning two domestic league titles, in 1975–76 and 1980–81 seasons), returned as head coach.
Playing with a depleted roster, the season turned out to be a write-off as it quickly became clear this Partizan squad was no match for tougher Yugoslav clubs. Their deficiencies were especially evident at center as Pecarski who in the absence of Divac got forced into playing long minutes was often outplayed by the opposition's center line. Partizan finished the season in 8th place with a 9-13 record, missing the playoffs — the club's worst league finish in nineteen years. They didn't fare much better in the Yugoslav Cup or FIBA European Cup Winners' Cup, finishing both competitions at the quarterfinal stage. It wasn't much better for Danilović individually, either: after starting the season off strongly with continually improving performances, he suffered an injury (broken leg) that ended his season after appearing in only 11 games, posting 14.3ppg. The injury also kept him out of consideration for the Yugoslavia national team roster at the 1990 World Championship.
Utilizing his by now well-known penchant for hard work, twenty-year-old Danilović focused on rehabilitating his broken leg in order to regain game fitness for the start of the 1990–91 season. Meanwhile, the team went through significant changes with head coach Ćorković let go and eventually replaced with Danilović's mentor Vujošević who thus returned to the club after a largely unsuccessful episode in Spain. Another returnee with a sub-par season behind him was old favourite Paspalj, back after only a season with the Spurs. With Partizan's main title contender, reigning European and Yugoslav champions KK Split, going through a coaching change with their head coach Boža Maljković taking Barça's lucrative offer, in addition to their center Dino Rađa making a big money move to Italy, the reinforced Partizan roster seemed poised to finally overcome its biggest rival of the last few years.
With fully recovered shooting guard Danilović confidently holding Partizan's backcourt alongside point guard Saša Đorđević, the team finished the regular season in the second spot with an 18-4 record behind KK Split's 19-3. Now an integral part of the team, Danilović contributed with 13.9 points per game in the league.
In late June 1992, Danilović entered the NBA draft where he was taken in the second round by Golden State Warriors as the 43rd overall pick. He eventually decided to stay in Europe, signing with sports agent Mira Poljo, an established agent with good connections in Italy through Interperformances sports agency, who soon referred him to her partner Luciano Capicchioni. Danilović eventually signed a lucrative contract with Knorr Bologna paying him approximately $900,000 per season.
Arriving in the Italian city of Bologna and the club Virtus with an aura of the EuroLeague champion and EuroLeague Final Four MVP, big things were expected of 22-year-old Danilović. Earlier that summer, the club went through an ownership change with businessman Alfredo Cazzola acquiring it.
Coached by Ettore Messina and playing alongside point guard Roberto Brunamonti and center line of Bill Wennington and Augusto Binelli, Danilović led the team to the top of the standings in the regular season with a 24–6 record, ahead of former teammate Saša Đorđević's Philips Milano and reigning league champions Benetton Treviso led by Toni Kukoč, before sweeping through the playoffs without a single loss, overcoming Olimpia Pistoia, Clear Cantù, and finally Kukoč's Treviso in the playoff final series to dominantly win the Italian League title. Dueling with his old nemesis from the Yugoslav League, Danilović got the better of Kukoč this time. Establishing himself as Virtus's undisputed leader, Danilović averaged a combined 23.7 points per game over the course of regular season and playoffs.
In contrast to the domestic league, EuroLeague success proved elusive. The campaign started in early October, but it was the opening group stage game on 29 October 1992 that brought Danilović an uncomfortable away trip to play against Cibona in Zagreb. He thus became the very first Serb to play a competitive game in the newly independent Croatia after the breakup of Yugoslavia while the Yugoslav Wars were in full swing. Rattled by playing in an extremely hostile atmosphere, Danilović had a poor shooting night making 5 of 15 field goals, good for only 12 points as Virtus lost by 16. Talking about the Zagreb experience, later in 1996, Danilović said: "Traveling to the game I assumed there would be issues, but I certainly didn't expect that much hate. Eight thousand people showed up just to insult a Serb. Getting through that game was not easy at all for me and you can tell from my stats. Even their player Franjo Arapović as well as their head coach Aco Petrović were hostile before the game even started wanting to hurl abuse at me, but I managed to put them in their place once we got out on the court. Also I think the two of them realized they had a rematch to play in Bologna in a few months so they didn't want to antagonize me too much". In the rematch on home court in January 1993, inspired Danilović led the way with 9 of 12 field goal shooting and 23 points as Virtus jumped out to an early lead, recording a 40-point win by the end. Barely making it out of the group stage in the last qualifying spot with a 6-6 record meant that in their quarterfinal best-of-three series Virtus would face the top-placed team from the other group — formidable Real Madrid squad led by Arvydas Sabonis. Virtus got blown out by Real, losing the first game on home court at PalaDozza by 20 points with Danilović scoring 4 points while five days later in Madrid, Real finished the job with another convincing victory, this time by 21 points.
In summer 1993, coach Messina left the club to take the head coaching position at the Italian national team with returning coach Alberto Bucci coming in as his replacement at Bologna. The club got a new naming-rights sponsor, non-alcoholic Buckler Beer, as it waited to move into its new arena that was still being built. The roster largely remained the same; the only notable player personnel changes were Wennington's return to the NBA to play for the Chicago Bulls, and the arrival of former NBA player Cliff Levingston from PAOK. With Danilović's contributions to the success of Virtus, he, together with his agent Luciano Capicchioni, also began looking at the NBA as an option again, but in the end decided to stay put in Bologna for the time being.
The new season, 1993–94, mostly mirrored the previous one as it quickly became clear that no club was a match for Virtus in the Italian League. Jumping to the top of the standings with five straight wins to open the league season, they never relinquished first place until the end, finishing the regular season with the identical 24–6 record from the previous campaign. Well settled in Italy with monikers like lo Zar (the Tzar) and Zar Freddo (the Cold Tzar) given to him by the Italian sports media due to his prowess and calm-under-pressure demeanor on the court as well as inaccessible nature off it, Danilović continued to lead the team. In December 1993, approximately midway through the season, Virtus moved into its newly built 8,650-seat arena PalaMalaguti (which now seats 11,000), located outside of the city core in Casalecchio di Reno.
Despite being selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 43rd pick overall in the 1992 NBA draft, Danilović continued playing in Europe for three more seasons before debuting in the National Basketball Association (NBA). In the meantime, during November 1994, his rights had been traded to the Miami Heat as part of a deal that sent 25-year-old Billy Owens to the Heat while the Warriors got 29-year-old center Rony Seikaly. In mid-June 1995, Danilović signed a four-year contract with Miami worth just over US$8 million. In order to accommodate signing Danilović, the Heat decided to trade Harold Miner to Cleveland for an exchange of second-round draft picks and future considerations thus freeing up space under NBA's salary cap.
Several months later, one day before the scheduled start of the regular season, Miami pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Charlotte Hornets, sending the Heat's franchise player Glen Rice along with starting center Matt Geiger and point guard Khalid Reeves to the Hornets in exchange for their star player Alonzo Mourning with reserves Pete Myers and LeRon Ellis also thrown in.
Danilović debuted for the Heat on Saturday, 4 November 1995, the opening day of the season, as a starter at the shooting guard position alongside Bimbo Coles, Billy Owens, Kevin Willis, and Alonzo Mourning. He contributed team-high 16 points, helping his team beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 85-71 before getting ejected towards the end of the game due to an altercation with Cleveland's Chris Mills. The incident that saw both players thrown out of the game occurred late in fourth quarter, starting with Mills hitting Danilović with a flying elbow to the chin as Danilović was cutting across the baseline, to which Danilović responded by allowing Mills to catch up before elbowing him back in the side of his head, to which Mills then reacted immediately by punching Danilović with a right hook to the jaw, leaving him with a cut lip that required nine stitches outside his mouth and three more inside. After the game, Danilović said he was just getting back at Mills after being hit, while Mills claimed Danilović had been playing dirty all game long. Both players were subsequently fined and suspended by the league — Mills received a one-game suspension and US$10,000 fine while Danilović also got suspended for one game for retaliation in addition to getting fined US$3,500.
Despite receiving criticism over what some considered overly aggressive play, the Heat opened the season with an 11-3 record utilizing the starting five of Coles, Danilović, Owens, Willis, and Mourning. Just as Danilović began hitting his shooting stride in December 1995, averaging 20 points per game in the four contests between 6–12 December 1995, including season-high 30 points away at Phoenix, his season was disrupted by injury. On 14 December 1995, two days after appearing in the away loss at Golden State during which he scored 15 points before falling down on the floor and aggravating a previous injury sustained during his time in Italy, Danilović got placed on the team's injured list with right wrist issues that looked to be minor initially. Being an injury he had carried for three years already, Danilović was confident it would calm down again with customary therapy. However, when the swelling didn't dissipate within weeks as the attempts to rehabilitate his wrist through therapy failed, it became apparent that the injury was more serious this time, requiring attention of a specialist. Danilović's frustration of being on the sidelines with an injury that showed no signs of improving was evident on 23 December 1995. During halftime of an away game at Charlotte that he watched in street clothes from the bench, he was signing autographs near the tunnel leading to the locker rooms when an unruly fan began verbally abusing him; Danilović reacted by confronting the fan physically and had to be restrained by the Heat executive Randy Pfund. On 2 January 1996, Danilović went in for surgery performed by hand specialist Dr. Ann Ouelette at South Miami Hospital to repair a non-union of the scaphoid bone on his right hand. The surgery was successful, but with his hand in a cast and the recovery process expected to last 3–4 months, there were doubts about whether Danilović's season was over. In early February 1996, with his recovery schedule plan to be back in action for the final month of the regular season, Danilović was allowed to leave the team and go back to visit his family in Italy and FR Yugoslavia. During Danilović's layoff, the Heat completely overhauled their roster including their early season starting lineup. On 23 February 1996, the team made three trades in the same day, bringing in Tim Hardaway and Chris Gatling from Golden State for Bimbo Coles and Kevin Willis, then getting Walt Williams and Tyrone Corbin from Sacramento for Billy Owens and Kevin Gamble, and finally acquiring Tony Smith from Phoenix for Terrence Rencher.
The projections of Danilović coming back from injury at the beginning of April 1996 proved overly optimistic as his return took place on 21 April 1996 at home versus Atlanta, the Heat's last game of the regular season. Very rusty after four months on the sidelines during which he missed 62 games, Danilović, who had in the meantime also lost his spot in Miami's starting five to Rex Chapman, put up modest 8 points during 25 minutes of action off the bench on 3 for 9 shooting from the field that included airballing his first shot back after the injury layoff and coming up well short on his first 3-point shot as Miami lost 92-104. The Heat ended the season with 42-40 record, qualifying for the playoffs as the eight-placed team in the Eastern Conference where they would face the juggernaut Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls team that had lost only 10 games the entire season.
Making his NBA playoffs debut only five days after coming back from months-long injury layoff, Danilović began on the bench as coach Riley continued with Chapman as the starter at shooting guard. The Serb had another poor post-injury outing, scoring only 3 points in 22 minutes on 1 for 3 from the field as Miami got blown out 102-85 by the Bulls. Two days later, game two of the series brought a much improved performance by Danilović who scored team-high 15 points off the bench in 23 minutes; however, the Heat still suffered an even worse blowout, this time by 31 points. The series then shifted to Miami, and the rampant Bulls converted on their first opportunity to end the series, beating the Heat easily for the third time in a row, 112-91, as Danilović, playing on reduced minutes, scored 7 points.
Return to VirtusEdit
In early June 1997, after getting offered a US$6 million net income three-year contract from his old club Virtus, Danilović decided to end his time in the NBA, two years short of completing his 4-year contract, thus forfeiting $4.9 million in NBA salary. On 23 April 1998, Danilović won its second EuroLeague, defeating AEK in Barcelona. While on 31 May, Virtus conquered its 14th national title, defeating in Game 5 of the final, Teamsystem Bologna. At twenty seconds from the end of the game, with Fortitudo leading by 4, Danilović scored a three-points shot and at the same time suffered a foul by Dominique Wilkins, completing the so-called “four-point shot”. Than Virtus would won the match in the over time. The 1998 final between Virtus and Fortiudo is widely considered as the greatest one in the history of Italian basketball, with two teams from the same city, which were among the best ones in the continent.
In the following season, Virtus won its 7th Italian Cup but lost in the EuroLeague final against Žalgiris of Tyus Edney and was eliminated in the semi-finals for the national championship. Under Cazzola's presidency and thanks to the leaderships of Danilović and coach Messina, the 1990s were considered the "Golden Age" of Virtus, which collected four national titles, two Italian Cups, a Cup Winners' Cup and a EuroLeague, becoming one the most notable and successful team in Europe. In October 2000, at the end of the following season, Danilović surprisingly announced his retirement from professional sport.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||PIR||Performance Index Rating|
Note: The EuroLeague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season. He also played in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.
|†||Denotes seasons in which Danilović won the EuroLeague|
|Led the league|
National team careerEdit
With the senior Yugoslav national basketball team, Danilović won four EuroBaskets, in 1989, 1991, 1995, and 1997. He was also a member of the silver medal winning Yugoslav team at the 1996 Summer Olympics, in Atlanta.
- EuroLeague: 2 (with Partizan: 1991–92 and Virtus Bologna: 1997–98)
- Korać Cup: 1 (with Partizan: 1988–89)
- Yugoslav Cup: 1 (with Partizan: 1988–89)
- Yugoslav League: 1 (with Partizan: 1991–92)
- Yugoslav Cup: 1 (with Partizan: 1991–92)
- Italian League: 4 (with Virtus Bologna: 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1997–98)
- Italian Cup: 1 (with Virtus Bologna: 1998–99)
- Italian Supercup: 1 (with Virtus Bologna: 1997)
Partizan vice-president (2000–2004)Edit
In October 2000, shortly after retiring from playing professionally, Danilović became co-vice president of his old club KK Partizan alongside Žarko Paspalj, Dražen Dalipagić, and Ivica Divac, working under the also newly named club president Vlade Divac. The appointment came about on initiative by the club's about to be deposed president Ivica Dačić during the time of political upheaval in Serbia in the wake of the Slobodan Milošević overthrow. Seeing that various state-owned companies and community property were being taken over in a dubious manner during the power vacuum that resulted from régime change, Dačić (the club's outgoing president and, more importantly, a suddenly marginalized politician who, due to his association with Milošević, was forced to leave his post at the club) saw it prudent to bring the club's two former greats as a safeguard against the same happening to KK Partizan.
Since club president Divac was at the time still an active player in the NBA with Sacramento Kings, while nominal co-vice presidents Paspalj, Dalipagić, and Ivica Divac exhibited little interest in being involved in the club's day-to-day business, Danilović essentially became the main decision-maker at KK Partizan.
Inheriting a head coach Darko Russo, Danilović let him finish out the season before hiring old mentor and friend Duško Vujošević during summer 2001. Vujošević immediately started producing results, winning the league title in 2001–02, ending KK Budućnost's three-year league championship run. It was the first of nine consecutive league trophies under his command. Though continually cash-strapped, under the command of Danilović, Divac, and sporting director Dragan Todorić, the club instituted a model of bringing up domestic young players from its own youth setup or smaller clubs in Serbia and Montenegro rather than relying on foreign imports. It proved a winner both on the court and business-wise as Partizan sold its best player in regular intervals (usually every summer) and then re-invested that money into the youth system or acquiring talented youngsters from smaller clubs while making sure that squad can function with other players stepping up. Under this model, in summer 2003 Miloš Vujanić was sold to Fortitudo Bologna while the following summer 2004 Nenad Krstić got sold to New Jersey Nets. The club managed to win the domestic league FR Yugoslavia/Serbia-Montenegro league year after year, ensuring a EuroLeague spot, which was essential for its bottom line.
Simultaneously, Danilović was very much against his club joining the regional Adriatic League. However, by 2004, Partizan was essentially forced into the regional competition because its Euroleague spot now depended on competing regionally rather than domestically. This also brought about change in the club's business model as in the summer of 2004 they brought in already established national team players 27-year-old Dejan Milojević from KK Budućnost and 29-year-old Milan Gurović from KK Vojvodina to bolster the squad ahead of the start of competition in Adriatic League. It would prove to be one of Danilović's last orders of business at the club as he soon left KK Partizan.
Partizan president (2007–2015)Edit
In 2007 Danilović returned to KK Partizan, this time as president.
In late May 2007, following a Serbian Basketball League game from the SuperLeague phase, between KK Hemofarm and Partizan at Vršac's Millennium Centar, Danilović assaulted the referee Marko Juras. Dissatisfied over Juras' calls in the game that Partizan lost, thirty-seven-year-old KK Partizan president reportedly followed the twenty-nine-year-old referee into the referees' dressing room and proceeded to knock him to the floor, landing several punches. Juras filed a criminal complaint against Danilović as did the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs. In July 2007, Danilović got suspended by the Serbian Basketball Federation (KSS) from all basketball-related activity for two years, but two months later the punishment was reduced to a probationary period.
On August 24, 2015, he resigned from the president's position, after few years of financial troubles the club was going through.
He was also involved with Group Seven, a charity organization founded by seven Serbian basketball players.
On 11 February 2009, Danilović filed a lawsuit against Worldwide Associates (a limited-liability company based in Carmel, Indiana and represented by Rick Suder and George Grkinich) alleging investment fraud connected to $4 million he gave the company to manage. Previously, Grkinich had also been involved with Group Seven.
May 2013 stabbing incidentEdit
In the early morning hours of Saturday, 18 May 2013, forty-three-year-old Danilović was stabbed during a bar brawl in Belgrade, sustaining injuries to his head, arms, and abdomen, for which he underwent surgery at Belgrade's Urgentni centar.
From the press reports, KK Partizan club president Danilović had been drinking and eating at the Kafanica bar, a kafana-type establishment in the Košutnjak neighbourhood, together with a party of friends including the bar's owner — Danilović's close friend, Branko "Fido" Filipović — before a fight broke out around 2:20am between Filipović and Danilović. Filipović reportedly struck Danilović in the head with an ashtray prompting someone from the bar to call an ambulance, which Danilović refused upon their arrival, sending them away. The fight between the two continued with Filipović now stabbing Danilović in the abdomen, and injured Danilović driving by himself to the hospital. Due to the nature of his injuries, considered "life-threatening", Danilović underwent emergency surgery and afterward got placed in intensive care in stable condition. During the day Danilović was visited at the hospital by the Serbian prime minister Ivica Dačić (incidentally Danilović's personal friend and predecessor at the post of KK Partizan president), Serbian deputy prime minister Aleksandar Vučić and sports minister Alisa Marić. Talking to the press afterwards, prime minister Dačić jokingly described the circumstances of Danilović's stabbing as "traditional Serbian quarrel between friends".
On 20 May 2013, Serbian police issued an arrest warrant for Branko Filipović after unsuccessfully trying to summon him for questioning. Danilović got out of the hospital on 26 May 2013 and was seen in public at the Belgrade Airport awaiting the arrival of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, who were acquitted at the Hague Tribunal. After being on the run for more than two weeks, Filipović was arrested in Belgrade on 2 June 2013. After initially being charged with "causing severe bodily harm with life-threatening injuries", his charge was in the meantime upgraded to "attempted murder" by the Serbian public prosecutor office.
During the trial, the role of Filipović's fiancée Sanja Ševović (who was also at the bar the night of the stabbing) came under scrutiny, particularly the exact time she claimed to have left the bar. In February 2014, Filipović got sentenced in the Belgrade Higher Court to four-and-a-half years in prison for the attempted murder of Danilović. After spending nine months in prison detention, Filipović was let out of jail on the same occasion until the sentence becomes legally-binding with the completion of the appeals process.
The case was appealed and in May 2015 the Court of Appeals annulled the lower court sentence, ordering a re-trial. Initially set for late August 2015, the re-trial began in mid-October 2015. Following court dates throughout 2016, 2017, and 2018, in early May 2018 Filipović and the Serbian public prosecutor office reportedly reached an admission of guilt agreement awaiting the Higher Court confirmation. Several weeks later, in late May 2018, the Higher Court confirmed the agreement, sentencing Filipović to one and a half years in prison in addition to a four-year conditional sentence.
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