The Coach: Zeljko Obradovic, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

May 05, 2019 by Print
The Coach: Zeljko Obradovic, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

Any way you look at it, Zeljko Obradovic is one of the great minds in the sport of basketball and a king among head coaches. He is widely respected by players, fellow coaches, fans and opponents. His is also well known everywhere after working as a head coach in five different countries, and thus serves as an ambassador for the game wherever he visits.

In addition to all those reasons why the basketball community respects Obradovic, there is one more thing about him that people revere: his status as the most successful coach in EuroLeague history – and by a significant margin. Obradovic owns nine EuroLeague titles and will lead Fenerbahce to a fifth straight Final Four appearance in just his sixth season with the club. He has guided Fenerbahce to the championship game in each of the past three seasons, and they lifted the trophy together in 2017 – a first for any Turkish team.

All Obradovic has done is win since the day he prematurely hung up his playing uniform at the age of 31 to take over as Partizan Belgrade's head coach and work with many of the same players he had played alongside during seven seasons as the team's point guard. Despite the difficult conditions caused by the war in the former Yugoslavia, Obradovic guided Partizan to its only EuroLeague title in his first season on the sidelines, in 1992. He repeated that feat two years later with DKV Joventut Badalona in Spain, and again in 1995 with Real Madrid.

Obradovic spent the longest stint of his career in the Greek capital, serving as the head coach of Panathinaikos Athens for 13 seasons starting in 1999. There, he captured five more EuroLeague rings, 11 Greek League championships and seven Geek Cups. In total, besides his nine EuroLeague titles, Obradovic boasts 16 domestic league, 10 domestic cup and a pair of FIBA Saporta Cup titles. He also possesses a string of accolades, including FIBA World Cup and FIBA EuroBasket gold medals, from his years as Yugoslavia's head coach.

The first Final Four in Vitoria-Gasteiz presents Obradovic a second opportunity to capture his 10th EuroLeague title. He will surely have his team ready for the challenge, as always.