Predrag Danilovic, more than an Athlete

By OliviaStill
Feb. 01, 2017

Making it to the top in any sport requires extreme dedication, passion, and a desire to get to the top and stay there. This kind of mentality is not something that you just grow out of once you are no longer actively participating in your favorite game. Some athletes move on to different challenges, become entrepreneurs, or something equally demanding, but others find new ways to elevate the sport they care about, to contribute to it without actually participating in the way they are used to. Predrag (Sasa) Danilovic is one of the latter, a man who has done so much for basketball in his country that no one would have faulted him if he moved on to different endeavors, but who still wants to contribute, and who has proven himself more than capable of doing so. This is his story.

Predrag Danilovic (in the US, his nickname is usually spelled ‘Sasha’) was born in 1970 in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He began displaying interest in basketball since the earliest age, joining a local team while he was still in primary school. His passion and already obvious talent attracted the attention of the current coach of one of the most popular Yugoslav teams at the time, Dusko Vujosevic. Even though there were logistical and financial difficulties, with joint efforts they managed to organize Predrag’s transfer to Belgrade and his new team, Partizan.

In 1988, at age 18 he joins the team, and starts building what is to be a stellar career in basketball. Despite the fact that he was far from his home, parents and friends, in a city he doesn’t know, Predrag dedicated all of his time and energy to practices, constantly justifying the trust that Vujosevic has placed in him. The very next year, 1989, he gets chosen to play for the representation of Yugoslavia, and helps his team win the gold in the European Basketball Championship.

His career was on an obvious upward trajectory, when he suffers an injury which forces him to the bench for the best part of the 1990/1991 season. Once he recovered, his performance amazed the coach of Virtus Bologna who insists they bring the talented player under their rooster. This transfer marks the begging of his international career, starting in Italy, and ending in US, where he played for Miami heat and Dallas Mavericks. Regardless of the team or country that Sasa Danilovic found himself in, his performance and passion kept contributing to his renown.

Upon his return from the US, he makes several more notable appearances for Serbia, and much to everyone’s surprise, decides to retire as a player in the year 2000. Danilovic was only 30 years old at this point, and many waited to see what will become of him. As it turns out, he was far from being fed up with basketball, as his next career step was becoming the deputy general manager of his team, Partizan, the very same year (2000). He held this position for four years, but returns as the team’s general manager in 2007, and stays at the helm until 2015.

The years he spent leading the team helped him build up an already impressive reputation, and eventually led to him becoming the president of the Basketball Federation of Serbia in 2016. Knowing how long he has been dedicated to one team, it is even more impressive that people were willing to entrust him with a position which would give him free reign over the sport in the country.

This is why Predrag Danilovic stands out from so many of his peers. Despite the fact that he had much more lucrative options open to him, and that he could have found a much less demanding and unenviable position, his dedication to the sport remained as adamant as ever, and the list of his contributions to it is only likely to keep getting longer.