Euroleague Basketball is proud to announce that Dusan Ivkovic, as he ends a remarkable career that has seen him walk the sidelines in five different decades, will be honored on Wednesday, Sept. 20, in Greece as the first head coach to be chosen for the distinction of Euroleague Basketball Legend.
Coach Ivkovic, 73, is stepping down from an unprecedented 48-year career on the bench by coaching one last game in which an all-star team of his former players will face Olympiacos Piraeus, the club that he led to two Turkish Airlines EuroLeague titles. He joins players Dimitris Diamantidis, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Juan Carlos Navarro, Theo Papaloukas, Ramunas Siskauskas and Mirsad Turkcan as recipients of the award.
"It gives us great pleasure to know that Dusan Ivkovic is the first coach to become a Euroleague Basketball Legend," said Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, Jordi Bertomeu, who will present the award to Coach Ivkovic on Wednesday in Piraeus. "It's impossible to overstate Dusan's status in the world of coaching, both as a mentor to an endless list of great players and as a shining example to others in his profession. His contributions to Euroleague Basketball – which go beyond his being the only coach to win the title in both of our competitions – are immense."
Among the players who Coach Ivkovic helped make famous who will play for him in his last game on the bench are point guards Thomas Heurtel, Stefan Markovic, Milos Teodosic and Nikos Zisis; shooting guards Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kostas Sloukas; small forwards Cedi Osman, Nikola Kalinic and Furkan Korkmaz; power forwards Pero Antic, Dario Saric and Viktor Khryapa; and centers Kyle Hines and Boban Marjanovic.
Coach Ivkovic owns an unprecedented list of accomplishments. At the club level, he is the only head coach to have won every major trophy in Europe over the years: EuroLeague (1997, 2012), EuroCup (2006), Korac Cup (1979) and Saporta Cup (2000). With his national teams, he lifted FIBA World Cup (1990) and EuroBasket (1989, 1991, 1995) titles, while also taking a silver medal at the 1998 Olympic Games. In domestic competitions, he won an additional 15 league and cup titles in the four countries where he has coached. Not surprisingly, Coach Ivkovic was named by EuroLeague Basketball in 2008 as one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors in the first half-century of continental club competitions.
After finishing a short playing career in his native Belgrade, Coach Ivkovic learned coaching as an assistant to his older brother, Slobodan, who led the pro club in their home neighborhood of Radnicki. He made the jump to head coach at Partizan Belgrade in 1978 and two years later made his first move abroad, to Greece, with Aris Thessaloniki. He returned to the former Yugoslavia to coach Radnicki, Sibenka and Vojvodina until 1990. At that time, he also took over the bench of the Yugoslav national team for a period that lasted from 1987 to 1995 and guided some of the greatest European teams of all time.
He returned to Greece in 1991 and within a decade led three different teams — PAOK, Olympiacos and AEK — to EuroLeague semifinals, ultimately taking Olympiacos to his and its first continental title in 1997. He broadened his influence to a new country, Russia, in 2002, bringing CSKA Moscow to three consecutive Final Fours and then leading Dynamo Moscow to the EuroCup title in 2006.
Having returned to the national team bench of Serbia in 2008, he also rejoined Olympiacos in 2010 for two seasons culminating in one of the greatest triumphs in basketball history, a 19-point comeback in 11 minutes to win the EuroLeague title of 2012 against his former team, CSKA. Coach Ivkovic would finish his illustrious career spending two seasons in a fourth country, Turkey, while coaching Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the EuroLeague.
All along Coach Ivkovic kept up keen interests outside of basketball. He is also a longtime champion of racing pigeons in Serbia and at the European level. And he is a proud descendant of the famed Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla.
As he retires, Coach Ivkovic is sure to go down in basketball history as one of the greatest ever to coach the game, a generation-bridging dean of the profession at a time when the sport gained immense popularity and he reached its greatest heights. In short, a true Euroleague Basketball Legend.