Monday, July 18, 2011

Q and A with Nedzad Kladusak, Bosnian basketball supporter and man behind the scenes!

Nedzad Kladusak is a passionate basketball fan, who not only follows basketball closely in Bosnia. He has dedicated his time and energy into improving the dreary conditions that have followed Bosnian basketball in the postwar era. Bosnian basketball had a great tradition while a part of Yugoslavia. It enjoyed a rich history of great coaches, players and victories including winning the modern equivalent of the Euroleague basketball title. Many great players were born and moved through the Bosnian schools and teams including Predrag Danilovic, Zoran Savic, Zoran Planinic, Aleksandar Radojovic, Vladmir Radmanovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mirza Delibasic and a host of other NBA draft pics and European stars. Bosnian basketball fell on hard times during the war and it has gotten worse since then. The highlight of the Bosnian international team was the inspired play by Nenad Markovic in wartime scoring over 60pts in a competition and taking the talented Croatian teams led by stars of Dino Radja and Toni Kukoc to the limit of thier ability.
Nedzad, just like myself sees the potential ability in the future of Bosnian basketball. Also the need for sports to transcend political life and strife in everyday Bosnia. If the Bosnian Football and Basketball teams are organized in such a way as to inspire all Bosnians regardless of were they live or their religion, then they can make a genuine positive impact on the future of the country. Unfortunately Bosnian basketball (and sports in general) are treated the same way the country is, to be used and abused and neglected because you either are for it or against in the 1990's, depending on which side of the argument you fall.
The reality is a few elites in Bosnian sports make quite a nice living off of running a corrupt system that enjoys support of the international community without protecting the future and supporting the youths that grow up wide eyed and innocent loving the game of basketball. The few that have both the talent and also the love of the game in Bosnia often find they must leave the country at a young age in order to pursue their dream. Such great examples include Stanko Barac, Bojan Bogdanovic, Nihad Dedovic, Mirza Begic, Emir Preldzic, Nedzad Sinanovic, Alen Omic, Djordje Micic, Sandro Gacic, Nedim Dedovic and so many others. The loss of these great young talents means little to the officials that run Bosnian basketball, unless they can squeeze some money out of the kids on the way out of the country. They also almost completely ignore the fact that because of the war in the 1990's over half of the worlds Bosnian population live outside of it's borders. Little attention was paid to these great young talents until Nedzad took the time to bring many of them to the attention of Bosnian officials. What would it cost to pick up a telephone, call a kid and tell him that you follow his career and look forward to his development? Or to send a few letters to kids like Goran Suton, Igor Hadziaomerovic and maybe a national team jersey with the kids name on the back and words of support from a great like Teletovic or Markovic? Practically nothing, Bosnian officials can't compete with a big time professional club from Spain. What they can do is recruit Bosnian kids in much the same way that a US college coach (from a clean program) recruits college players. That is what is needed to bring some of these youngsters back into the family. The two positions of center and point guard (also the two most important positions on the basketball court in many ways) are the weakest on the Bosnian international team. At the same time Bosnia has produced tremendous talent at both of these positions and they have all played abroad Damir Mulaomerovic, Aleksandar Capin, Vule Avdalovic, Zoran Planinic are all great examples of Bosnian point guards who have never put on the Bosnian National Team jersey.
Nedzad, like myself is passionate about Bosnian basketball and the potential the future holds. It is a bond for both of us that we can share with few others who feel the same. I have always been the type of person who roots for the underdog, there is no bigger underdog in all of Europe than Bosnia. This is not just pie in the sky dreamy hope, this is a seriously talented basketball sporting country that is passionate about their teams. If you don't believe it, wait till a team like KK BOSNA ASA is good again and go catch a game at Skenderija which is full to capacity and filled with rabid basketball fanatics.
Bosnia deserves better and so does it's players and fans. Nedzad is one man, with a passion for it, that is doing his best to make it happen, not only for himself, but all of Bosnia and her people.


Q) What made you interested in playing basketball and when and were did you get your start? 
A) When I was 9 years old I saw my first basketball match. I begged my parents to let me watch those games. Since we have been in BIH and we didn t finish our house at that time I watched these games together with my neighbour. I was so impressed by Drazen Petrovic and Muggsy Bogues. Since then I spent hours and hours on the court trying to imitate those crazy things I saw.   
Q) What clubs did you play for? I live in a small town and there have been only lower division teams I played for. It was pretty aware that I don t have the physical prerequisites to make it on a higher level so I focused on my academic career and not spending time on basketball camps etc.. However I played every day for hours on the freecourt and I played against many excellent players. 
Q) how did your playing career end?  
Well I still love to play and I am still to keen to work on details. However I am professionally so much involved that I am glad if I can play 5 hours a week. In the last three years I had two serious ankle injuries longer and longer to recover. 
Q) What drives your passion for Bosnian basketball? I still remember that moment. It s been during wartimes. My hometown has been shelled every day and I didn t hear about my relatives for months. One day our teacher asked us who wants to see a match of the EC 1993. The arenas have been empty and the schools had tickets for free. since I loved basketball I asked for a ticket. When we arrived in the arena I saw that BIH will play against Russia. I was so happy that I yelled. I was not prepared so I had no flag with me. I designed a Bosnian flag with lilies on my booklet. I animated the kids around me to cheer for BIH. It s been surrealistic to see a guy like very very young Gordan Firic, Sabahudin Bilalovic, Mario Primorac. Those guys fought so bravely against Bazarevich, Karassev, Bakov.... it s been such a wonderful event in my life that I still remember after almost 20 years. The second event were those legendary games against Croatia. it s been the post-war period and at that time Croatia was still not accepting BIH. My whole family has been in delirium after Markovic netted his legendary three-pointer. Its hard to describe but it s something you will never forget. 
Q) Who are your favorite players (both in BiH and internationally)?  
Ohh that is a very tough question. I saw Kukoc, Petrovic, Jordan.... There are many incredible players. But okay if I have to chose I say Hakeem Olajuwon. He is such a complete player combining technique, timing, athleticism, smartness and a very high ethic standard. I think there are some players who are virtually on the same level but I prefer big men. And Olajuwon was in my eyes the best and most complete big men. 
Mirza Delibasic is outstanding in the history of Bosnian basketball. Nenad Markovic, Mario Primorac and Gordan Firic also do have a 
Q) Who was your favorite player from the Yugoslavia international teams from the 1980's? 

I think Petrovic. Simply a genius who gave his team whatever it needed - scoring, assists, defense, leadership, ideas. 
Q) Who is the best Bosnian basketball coach today? 

Another difficult question but I think that Bosa Tanjevic (despite he is originally Montenegrinian) is the best Bosnian coach. On the second place I would list Svetislav Pesic. Ivan Velic is very promising and I think he should be much more involved in KSBIH activities. But actually there are far less coaching prospects than talented players. 
Q) Who is the best player you have ever played a game with (even a shooting practice)? 

I played against players who now play in the german PRO A (2. Bundesliga) like Dima Rastatter. I played mostly against Heiko Hartmann a talented player a now 21 year old PG. I practised with him every day of a week for about 4 hours over a period of 4 years, He made it to the the NBBL but after serious back and knee problems he quit playing basketball. I think if he would have stayed healthy he would have had chances to make it in the Bundesliga.
Q) What is your involvment with Bosnian basketball today?  
I support young Bosnian talents to get some exposure and I advise KSBIH related to the draft and scouting of young prospects living out of BIH. I promote Bosnian basketball since in Europe most people underestimate the relevance of BIH in basketball.
Q) Were do you see Bosnian basketball in 10 years?  
It depends. I think it largely depends on the political situation in the country. There are needed many organisational challenges and also clubs have to work much more professionally . If basketball is considered more as a common project not as a nice opportunity for some few to make some bucks no matter if it s legal or not I think we can play a good role in European basketball. 
Ideally BIH will have all basketball NT selections for both men and women, 3 strong leagues and every team will have only three players that are not eligible to play for BIH NT. The coaches will be highly educated producing regularly players for the NT. The basketball NT will play in Mostar and Banja Luka in front of 7000 spectators. 
Q) Do you think Bosnian basketball will ever get to the point were it isn't losing players to Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Australia, Austria, Spain and so many other countries? 
 A) Honestly not in the near future. I think when war criminals are no longer treated as heroes, when there are no ethnically clean school classes, when it becomes also normal in Siroki Brijeg to hire non-Croatian kids because they are good players. I think when we come to that point we will notice that we have something we can be proud to represent its values through playing basketball under its flags.


  1. Interesting interview!

  2. where can i buy a bosnain basketball jersey?

  3. Tough one, I saw a replice Mirza Delibasic on ebay from Hong Kong about a year ago...They are not easy to find even in Bosnia...Every once in a blue moon you see one offered on ebay or other auction sites...Someday in the next couple of years I think they will become more available. They used to offer national team Jersey's on the KSBiH website but since have quit...The easiest way is to go to a game or ask a friend in BiH to pick one up for you...