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Croatian basketball legend and Hall of Famer Mirko Novosel passes away

Croatian basketball legend and Hall of Famer Mirko Novosel passes away

Mirko Novosel (Photo: sconosciuto/vedi sotto/public domain)

Mirko Novosel, the legendary Croatian basketball player and coach, and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, has passed away aged 85, daily Jutarnji list confirmed today.

The most decorated basketball coach in Croatia, who achieved almost everything that could be achieved in the sport, was born on June 30, 1938, in Zagreb. After a 15-year-long playing career with Lokomotiva (later Cibona), he contributed to basketball in this region as few others could as a coach.

In 1993, Novosel led Croatia to European bronze in Germany, and he played a crucial role in enabling the Croatian national team to compete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, where they reached the sensational final against the Dream Team and secured a historic silver medal.

Under his guidance, with Yugoslavia he won an impressive five medals, including two European golds (1973, 1975), a world silver, and Olympic silver and bronze. His impact was also immense at Cibona, a club he transformed into a European powerhouse.

He clinched the European Champions Cup in 1985 and 1986, won the Yugoslav League championship three times, and claimed the Cup seven times. Twice, he led the team to victory in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

It was Novosel who brought Dražen Petrović to Zagreb from Šibenka in 1984. At that time, Petrović already had several options for his career, but he decided to sign with Cibona just a day before the transfer deadline. This move laid the foundation for some of the most glorious pages in the history of Zagreb and Croatian club sports.

He was also behind the organization of the 1987 University Games (Univerzijada) in Zagreb. During those days, the Croatian capital became one of the most important European metropolises, and Novosel played a leading role in managing the event.

Novosel was a beloved figure in basketball circles, entered the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, and three years later, FIBA also included him among the immortals. He was a true giant in the sport, an unquestionable authority and connoisseur of basketball, one of those who will leave an enormous and irreplaceable void in Croatian sports.

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