He was a 7'2 Center who entered the league during the dawn of the foreign player. Names like Marciulionis, Petrovic, Kukoc, Divac, Radja and Volkov all resonated more with teams and fans in the league. But Stojko Vrankovic was bigger than all of them (literally). Of course he didn't do much with the C's. But that didn't stop the aura surrounding Stojko.
Jack McCallum eloquently describes Stojko in his awesome book Unfinished Business:
He was big, muscular, quiet, laconic, evocative of a film noir star, someone who would be at home perched on a motorcycle, smoking cigarettes, and making ambivalent eye contact with blondes in leather skirts. Part of that was plain wrong- Vrankovic was a confirmed family man with a wife and young daughter- but some of the Celtics were certain that Stojko, like many European athletes, smoked cigarettes away from the team. They found that the only logical explanation for the endurance problems that surfaced during scrimmages when Stojko would suddenly puff his cheeks out like Dizzy Gillepsie in midnote and stop running, unable to keep up with the pace. Otherwise, he was a pure physical specimen, raw and tentative, but a specimen nonetheless.
***Addendum 1: 12/10: Well this was translated thanks to one of our Celtics fans from Croatia!
Vrankovic was on the Olympic Committee for Crotia. The article is "about him not renewing his mandate as board member of Olympic Committee because his request that every olympic medal winner should have some sort of funding from the country for the rest of their lives was denied by the same Committee." So it appears he stepped down from that role.
***Addendum Two 6/5/11: I had heard about the amazing blocked shot he had during international play but it wasn't until today, where I was able to witness it. This is truly incredible. People always talk about the Tayshaun Prince one on Reggie Miller back in the 2004 playoffs but this one is that much more amazing in my opinion since Stojko wasn't the quickest guy out there. 7 foot 2, busting his ass down the court to save the game for his country. Check it out!
It's absolutely an amazing play by Stojko. He came like a bat out of hell. If you watched the Prince one above you hear Doc Rivers' commentary. Considering Doc's strong allegiance to the Celtics, after seeing Stojko's, even he might tell you that one is more impressive.
Special thanks to Celtics fans Zadar and Jason, who has informed us that Stojko is back living in America and his son, Antonio Vrankovic, is attending high school in Florida at Pinecrest HS. He's a burgeoning star who is being recruited by Stanford, Duke and Notre Dame amongst others. You can follow Antonio on Twitter at @A11Vrankovic.
For a list of all the "What the Hell Happened To" Series please click here. tb727 10/31/2009 07:29:00 PM Tweet