Tribute to the Champs: Zeljko Obradovic
Zeljko Obradovic’s legend as the most-crowned person ever at the most elite level of European club basketball was made even bigger by Fenerbahce Istanbul’s historic victory at the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four.
By winning his ninth continental title, all as a head coach, Obradovic wrote a new, brilliant page in a EuroLeague history book that already included many chapters about him. This time, he made history again by giving Turkey its first EuroLeague champion ever. Obradovic’s nine titles are more than any other player or coach has won since European competitions started back in 1958. He has now led five different teams from four different countries – Partizan Belgrade, Joventut Badalona, Real Madrid, Panathinaikos Athens and Fenerbahce – to EuroLeague glory. And the fact that he won his first EuroLeague title with Partizan 25 years ago, also in Istanbul, takes Obradovic’s career full circle. One of the best coaches in basketball history, Obradovic is a role model for coaches everywhere due to his work ethic, tactical innovations, roster management and the privileged way in which he reads games and changes strategies on the fly. The good news for Fenerbahce fans is that Obradovic is under contract for three more years. That guarantees that Fenerbahce will be fully competitive in the long run and that Obradovic will have a good chance to fight for a 10th EuroLeague crown.