Vlade Divac nominated for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
One of the best European centers to play the game. A flopper. A fan favorite. An arch-enemy.
But there's one thing that will remain indisputable -- Divac's well-deserved nomination to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's class of 2012. Finalists won't be announced until All-Star weekend in February (if there ever is one), but Divac's nomination alone reflects the global impact he's had as an elite center and as an ambassador through various goodwill efforts.
His contributions affected the Lakers in various ways.
Divac, who was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2010, spent eight seasons with the Lakers, where he quickly became a fan favorite for both his performances and frequent commercial, sitcom and late-night show appearances. He averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, playing a key role in helping the team reach the 1991 NBA Finals. He posted some of his best numbers during the 1994-95 season, averaging 16 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.
He'll also be remembered for playing a large role in the Lakers securing both Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. As the team closed in on signing O'Neal as a free agent in July 1996, the Lakers traded Divac to Charlotte for Bryant, who had been drafted by the Hornets a month earlier. That resulted in the Kobe-Shaq duo combining for three championships before the team dissolved partly because of their conflict.
And with Divac signing with Sacramento in 1999, Laker fans also view him as a rival of sorts. During the Lakers-Kings playoff appearances, Shaq and Laker fans alike jeered Divac for flopping. They took offense when Divac contended during the 2001-02 season the Kings couldn't lose a series to the Lakers if they had home-court advantage. Robert Horry rolled his eyes when Divac suggested his last-second game-winner in Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals simply was a "lucky shot."
With Divac becoming one of six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots in his career, his legacy is far from lucky. In a few months, it's likely it'll be considered Hall of Fame worthy.
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Photo: Former Lakers center Vlade Divac is one of six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots in his career. Credit: Los Angeles Times