Today in WTHHT, we remember an international star from Croatia, not as famous as this guy or this guy, but definitely more famous than this guy.  You probably remember Dino Radja.

Dino was picked in the 2nd round by the Celtics in 1989 with the 40th overall selection (the C's first round pick that year was this clown, who couldn't shine Dino's shoes as a ball player).  As you could tell from the above references, the former Yugoslavia (which became Croatia and Serbia) was stockpiled with great basketball talent.  In addition to Drazen and Kukoc, Vlade Divac was also from there (amongst other ballers like Zan Tabak and Peja Drobnjak and Zarko Paspalj- those guys all are all real players if you don't remember them).  However Dino wouldn't come over until the 1993-94 season.

That Celtics team was brutal and Dino was one of the lone bright spots.  Reggie had just passed away and the Celts weren't granted any salary cap flexibility.  So we were forced to watch the likes of Jimmy Oliver, Todd Lichti, Chris Corchiani, Acie Earl and Matt Wenstrom all try to play with the Celtics jersey on.  It was rough to say the least.  But Dino was terrific.  A great shot from the foul line extended, and very solid post-up moves around the basket, he'd average 15 and 7 in 29 minutes a night, starting 47 of the 80 games he played.  If you watched the Celtics that season it was crystal clear he was their best player.

The next season, 1995, ML Carr would bring on Dominique and Pervis Ellison in hopes of making a splash.  And while Dominique was the leading scorer (at 17.8 ppg) and the Celtics made the playoffs as an 8th seed giving Shaq & the top seed Magic absolutely all they could handle in the first round, it was Dino right there helping lead the way.  He started in 48 of the 66 games he played, averaging 17.2 ppg and 8.7 rpg in 32 minutes a night and would play the only 4 games of his NBA playoff career.

In 1996, Dino would play just 52 games and averageda career high in points.  The following season, known as Tankapalooza for Tim Duncan, he appeared in just 25 games.  When the Evil Emperor took over that summer, he attempted to deal Dino for Clarence Weatherspoon and Michael Cage (which I really wish in hindsight the C's were able to do since they would've been FANTASTIC for WTHHT.  Alright, alright, I couldn't resist looking up Spoon and although I wasn't able to determine what the hell he's doing, I couldn't help but share this picture from 2008 of him.  And check out this website for Michael Cage, with sound!  LOL!  The music.  The jerry curl.  Ah how much fun would we have had with this).  However Dino failed his physical and our dreams for a WTHHT Clarence Weatherspoon were shattered.

Radja wound up getting waived by the Celtics and returned to Europe.  He spent two seasons with
Panathinaikos BC where he won 2 Greek Championships.  In 1999 he returned to Croatia to play for KK Zadar.  In 2000 he returned to Greece to play for Olympiacos BC, in an unsuccessful attempt to regain the Greek Championship.  After that, he returned, once again, to Croatia, (starting to sound like Mark Jackson going back and forth to the Pacers and Knicks) joining KK Cibona for the 2001-02 season. Radja finished his career in 2003 in Croatia with KK Split.

Bottom line: Radja could play.  He was on the god-awful 1994 team but remember had been drafted back in 89.  I wish he had come over in 1991- he likely wouldn't have gotten that much time on that stacked team (although he would've played over Joe Kleine) but I wish he had the chance to play alongside Bird and McHale.  Today he'd without question be a center (even though back then he played power forward).  If you never got to see him play, think of a superior version of Nenad Krstc.  A better shooter, rebounder, defender and more athletic.  I mean the better comparison to Radja in his prime would've likely been a poor man's Kevin McHale overall with more athleticism.  A less athletic Tom Chambers without the perimeter oriented game.  Alright, I give up- Dino was his own man!  Check this move out for good measure against the Dream Team of all opponents to make your own judgement:

Dino with the amazing t-shirt
Today Dino resides in Split, Crotia with his wife Victoria and is the President of KK Split, a team he used to play for in Croatia.  I'm not entirely sure if "President" is comparable to what Danny Ainge or Larry Bird do for the Celtics and Pacers (General Manager) or more of what Michael Jordan does with the Bobcats (majority owner).  However glad to see Dino busy, unlike someone else we've reflected on.

For a list of all the "What the Hell Happened To" Series please click here

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tb727 12/05/2010 12:01:00 AM Edit
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12 Responses so far.

  1. Bohemian says:

    Great piece, TB. Dino was a terrific player, a very talented forward. Nowadays it has become more and more difficult to find players who rely exclusively on their skills and class instead of just the physicality. Dino just lacked athleticism, but he was one of the best in the rest. He had the moves, the shooting and the will to win. Great player, glad he got to play for us

  2. Anonymous says:

    I'm born and live in his city, Split, my whole life (Kukoc is from there as well and Petrovic was from a place 20 miles away, so much for a 200k city:)
    Radja is reason why I ve been bleeding green all this years.
    He was doing good job in poor financial situation ( its not GM like DA or Jordan with Bobcats type, its like both of those combined).

    To answer the question from the title he is still alive and kicking, he is playing same amateur basketball league as I, while averaging bit over 40ppg:)
    Not bad for a dude in his mid 40ies banging up with bunch of basketball wannabes half his age.

  3. tb727 says:

    Haha thanks Anonymous, very insightful! I'm sure Dino's still a tough guy to play against at this point!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It's nice to see Dino is still remembered in the USA, even though you had numerous European players since.
    My name is Tony, and I'm also from Croatia as a previous Anonymous, but my favorite player was always Drazen Petrovic. Unfortunately, in his case, the answer to the question from the title is much much shorter... What a tragic that was!
    Thanks for this great article :)

  5. tb727 says:

    Hi Tony- thanks for visiting our site and for commenting! You're from Croatia and your name is "Tony" and not "Toni" haha?

    I loved Dino on the Celtics. I do apologize for not talking more of his European career in which I know he was spectacular. And Petrovic was a great player in his own right. That summer when both him and Reggie Lewis tragically passed away was unforgettable for me growing up.

  6. tb727 says:

    Oh and Tony maybe you could clarify what Stojko Vrankovic does today by translating the articles I've linked to!

    What the Hell Happened to Stojko Vrankovic

  7. Bohemian says:

    Looking for Dino's pics in green I found a list of foreign players that have played in the NBA (not passing through the NCAA):


    It's in Spanish, but it comes with pictures from all the players. I think Vrankovic is there with a Clippers uni lol

  8. Bohemian says:

    You can vote for the players too :P

    I already voted for the Spaniards, the Polish and of course for some vintage Celtics like Stojko, Dino or even Jiri Welsch ;)

  9. tb727 says:

    Cool site Bohemian. Well I'm gonna vote for Dirk to get him higher than Gasol and Divac, which he def should be.

    Do they even have Flaker trolls overseas, skewing the voting towards the favor of Flaker players lol?

  10. tb727 says:

    And Petrovic is WAY too low on that list...

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is First anom from Split (boy a lot of Croats are C's fans:). About your Vranković questions you were kinda right. It is about him not renewing his mandate as board member of olympic commite cause his request that every olympic medal winner should have some sort of funding from the country till the rest of thir lives was denied by the same comitee.

    There is not a lot of updates on him since, but he is freq seen on bigger basketball games around the country.

  12. tb727 says:

    Wow thanks last Anonymous!

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