|Born||2 March 1973|
Klek, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
|Listed height||2.05 m (6 ft 9 in)|
|Listed weight||110 kg (243 lb)|
|NBA draft||1995 / Round: 2 / Pick: 51st overall|
|Selected by the Sacramento Kings|
|Number||4, 10, 15|
|Career highlights and awards|
Dejan Bodiroga (Serbian Cyrillic: ; born 2 March 1973) is a Serbian basketball executive and former professional player. He mainly played at the small forward position, but he could also play point forward, and both guard positions. A EuroLeague icon of the early part of the 2000s, Bodiroga was named to the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors and the EuroLeague 2000-10 All-Decade Team.
At club level, Bodiroga proved himself to be a symbol of basketball excellence, by lifting consecutive EuroLeague trophies, with Panathinaikos and FC Barcelona, as he earned the EuroLeague Final Four MVP award both times.
Bodiroga led the senior FR Yugoslavian national team to two FIBA World Cup titles, in 1998 and 2002, earning MVP honors in the former. In addition, he won three EuroBasket gold medals (1995, 1997, 2001), and a bronze (1999), as well as an Olympic silver medal in 1996.
Bodiroga first started playing structured basketball at the age of 13. He enrolled in Zrenjanin's Ma?inac (Servo Mihalj) basketball section, under supervision of local basketball enthusiast Rade Prvulov. At the age of fifteen, he sprung up to 2.05m, and was quickly incorporated into the first team squad, coached by Miodrag Nikoli?, a former OKK Belgrade and SFR Yugoslav national team player in the 1960s.
His domestic career took off when, at 17, he was noticed by Kre?imir ?osi? at a friendly youth tournament that featured Ma?inac and Zadar among others, where Bodiroga scored 32 points in a game that pitted two teams. ?osi? then brought Bodiroga for a week-long basketball camp in Zadar and eventually persuaded Bodiroga's family to allow their son to move away to Zadar. In the meantime Bodiroga signed a pre-contract with Vojvodina so that when he finally went to Zadar in autumn 1989 he wasn't right away eligible for the first team, meaning that he first worked with coach Josip Grdovi? in the club's youth sections while simultaneously attending high school. After a year he was allowed to be moved into the full squad, then under head coach Slavko Trnini?.After just one season in the first team, Bodiroga's stay in Zadar came to a premature end due to the impending war. ?osi?, his mentor, did everything in his power to help Bodiroga find a new club. 
Originally, trials were arranged with AEK and Olympiacos, with both clubs offering a contract solely on the condition that Bodiroga become a naturalised Greek citizen. He ultimately refused the conditions and ended up traveling to Italy instead, joining a Stefanel Trieste emerging team, coached by Bogdan Tanjevi? and financially backed by the Stefanel clothing empire. In Trieste, he first captured the attention of the wider basketball public. Shortly after his arrival in the summer of 1992, he made an impact, averaging 21.3 points per game over 30 league matches and leading his team to the playoffs. There, however, they were quickly disposed of in the second round by the more experienced Clear Cantù.
He had a stellar season for Trieste in 1993-94, this time leading his team deeper into the playoffs. In the semifinals game 3 against Scavolini Pesaro, Carlton Myers' buzzer beater clinched a 2-1 series victory for Pesaro. Trieste also reached the FIBA Kora? Cup final, where they surrendered to PAOK from Thessaloniki, who starred Zoran Savi?, Walter Berry and Bane Prelevi?. After that season, Stefanel changed its backing to Olimpia Milano, sparking an exodus of Trieste players and coaches to Lombardy (coach Tanjevi?, Bodiroga, Gregor Fu?ka, Alessandro De Pol, Davide Cantarello, and Ferdinando Gentile).
Bodiroga's leading role remained unchanged as he developed into an all-around player. In 1994-95, Olimpia reached the Kora? Cup final, with players that also reached it the previous year in Trieste. However, they lost to Alba Berlin, coached by Svetislav Pe?i?, who would later play a big role in Bodiroga's career. On the home front, the team made it to the playoff semi-finals but lost 3-2 to the eventual champions, Buckler Bologna, led by another Serbian superstar, Predrag Danilovi?. The two Serbs turned the series into a personal duel, with Danilovi?'s experience prevailing in the end.
The summer of 1995 was an important milestone for Bodiroga. He became part of the great FR Yugoslavia squad that was making its comeback after years of international exile. The team was loaded with stars like Aleksandar ?or?evi?, Vlade Divac, ?arko Paspalj, Danilovi? and Savi?. Together, they won the gold in one of the most spectacular finals in EuroBasket history against a Lithuania that featured the likes of Arvydas Sabonis, ?ar?nas Mar?iulionis, Rimas Kurtinaitis, and Art?ras Karni?ovas.
That same summer, Bodiroga was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the 1995 NBA draft (second round, #51 overall). One year later, the Kings selected his younger countryman Peja Stojakovi?. However, unlike Stojakovi?, Bodiroga declined the offer to play in the NBA, choosing instead to remain in Europe. In 1995-96, Bodiroga won his first trophy in Milan, but the Kora? Cup was again lost, this time to Efes Pilsen.
In the league, Bodiroga led the way with 23.3 points per game in 32 regular season matches. During the playoffs, they beat Virtus 3-1 in the semi-finals (Danilovic left for the Miami Heat in the summer), and Teamsystem Bologna led by Myers, ?or?evi? and Alessandro Frosini. He took his place in the FR Yugoslav national team for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and he brought home a silver medal, with Dream Team III winning the gold.
For the 1996-97 season, Bodiroga joined Real Madrid after an offer of $1 million per season, and teaming up with coach ?eljko Obradovi?, whom he knew well from his national team stints. The squad also featured veteran Joe Arlauckas as well as established internationals Alberto Herreros and Mikhail Mikhaylov. In the Spanish ACB League finals, they faced an FC Barcelona team that boasted Aleksandar ?or?evi?, Jerrod Mustaf, and Art?ras Karni?ovas. FC Barcelona prevailed 3-2, winning the deciding 5th game 82-69 away, as Madrid settled with the European Cup trophy.
On the national basketball front, Yugoslavia rolled over the competition with considerable ease en route to another EuroBasket gold in 1997, with Bodiroga again playing an integral role. In the group stages, the Serbs faced Croatia, in the first meeting in basketball between the two nations since the breakup of the old Yugoslavia. The game carried much political tension and was low-scoring, with ?or?evi? winning it for FR Yugoslavia (by then comprising only Serbia and Montenegro) with a dramatic 3-pointer at the end.
In Bodiroga's next and final season with Real Madrid, (and without Obradovic, who had moved to Benetton Treviso) there were no improvements, as the team was ousted in the league's semifinals by TDK Manresa. He did achieve league MVP honours for the 1997-98 season. That summer's national team duty was happier, as it brought another World Championship title for FR Yugoslavia, the first for Bodiroga. Now 25, Bodiroga was, together with ?or?evi? (who suffered knee problems and played few minutes) and ?eljko Rebra?a, one of the team leaders.
The same summer of 1998 also saw Bodiroga move to the Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, where club chairman Pavlos Giannakopoulos began assembling a team to conquer Europe. As such, Bodiroga was the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle that already included Dino Ra?a, Fragiskos Alvertis, Michael Koch, "Nando" Gentile, Pat Burke and coach Slobodan Suboti?.
The Greens won the Greek League, but the EuroLeague ended in a disappointing note, leading to the departures of Radja and Suboti?, with the latter's replacement being old acquaintance ?eljko Obradovi?, who brought along ?eljko Rebra?a from Benetton Treviso, Johnny Rogers from Olympiacos and Oded Kattash from Maccabi Tel Aviv. After such an investment, Panathinaikos captured both the 1999-00 Greek League and the EuroLeague trophies, the latter coming in a final versus Maccabi Tel Aviv. In 2001, Panathinaikos again won the Greek Championship and also reached the SuproLeague final in Paris. A year later, Bodiroga was named the EuroLeague Final Four MVP, as the Greeks beat hosts Kinder Bologna, and their star player Manu Ginóbili 89-83.
In the international front, Bodiroga, as the team's undisputed leader, helped FR Yugoslavia win the EuroBasket 2001 in Turkey and the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis. In this competition, the national side defeated Team USA in the quarterfinals and the Argentine national team in the final, in overtime.
In the summer of 2002, Bodiroga returned to the Spanish league's FC Barcelona, which was managed by Svetislav Pe?i? and had players like ?ar?nas Jasikevi?ius, Gregor Fu?ka and Juan Carlos Navarro. He won the EuroLeague with Barça (the first time the team achieved this), and also added two domestic league titles with them.
In the 2005-06 season, Bodiroga came back to the Italian League, this time with Lottomatica Roma, re-joining coach Pe?i?, as the team played in the ULEB Cup (now called EuroCup). After getting eliminated from European contention in the round of 16 and losing the Italian Cup final (83-85) to Carpisa Napoli, Virtus finished the season in 6th place with a 22-12 record in the national league. Bodiroga finished the year with a 15.7 points-per-game regular season scoring average.
The playoff first round pitted Roma against favorites Montepaschi Siena. After dropping the first game, Bodiroga dominated the series in a 3-1 victory. During the 2006-07 season's playoffs, however, both teams played again, with the exact opposite outcome. After the fourth and final game, Bodiroga announced his retirement from professional basketball in June 2007.
Bodiroga was a member of the SFR Yugoslav junior national teams. He played at the 1990 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. He also played at the FIBA Under-19 World Cup, where he was named the MVP of the tournament.
Bodiroga made his debut for the senior SFR Yugoslav national team in 1991, at the first round of the 1991 Mediterranean Games in Athens. He was also a regular member of the senior FR Yugoslavia national team, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s (decade), participating in a total of three Summer Olympics (1996 Summer Olympic Games, 2000 Summer Olympic Games, 2004 Summer Olympic Games,) two FIBA World Cups (1998 FIBA World Championship and 2002 FIBA World Championship) and five EuroBaskets (EuroBasket 1995, EuroBasket 1997, EuroBasket 1999, EuroBasket 2001, and EuroBasket 2005).
Bodiroga retired from the national team after the EuroBasket 2005 fiasco, in which his team, one of the tournament's favorites, was eliminated as early as the first elimination round, by the French national team, on their own home court, in a tournament that ended with a verbal tirade by head coach ?eljko Obradovi?, at the team's final press conference. At which, the coach revealed there had been numerous fights between many of the team's players.
He won the following medals: EuroBasket 1995 (gold), 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games (silver), EuroBasket 1997 (gold), 1998 FIBA World Championship (gold), EuroBasket 1999 (bronze), EuroBasket 2001 (gold), 2002 FIBA World Championship (gold). He was selected to the EuroBasket All-Tournament Teams in 1997 and 1999. He was also selected the FIBA World Cup MVP in 1998.
|+||Denotes seasons in which Bodiroga's team won the EuroLeague|
After retiring from playing professional basketball in June 2007, Bodiroga became the general manager of Virtus Roma, thus continuing at the club where he finished his playing career. He ended his general manager term in June 2009.
In April 2010, Bodiroga along with fellow former player ?eljko Rebra?a sued the Carmel, Indiana-based company Worldwide Associates LLC for investment fraud. They allege in their suit they each gave the company more than $4 million to manage, which the company used as venture capital in speculative startup companies instead of investing it in traditional securities.
From 2011 to 2015, he served as the Vice President of the Basketball Federation of Serbia (KSS). In June 2014, he was appointed as the President of Competition Commission in FIBA Europe. In February 2015, he left the Basketball Federation of Serbia to focus on his job with FIBA Europe.
The son of Vaso and Milka Bodiroga, Dejan is a devout Orthodox Christian. His father hails from the village of Bodiroge near Trebinje and was among the wave of migrants from Herzegovina that moved northwards following the devastations of World War II. On 13 July 2003 Bodiroga married his long-time fiancée Ivana Medi?; the couple's first child was born in 2004.
He is a relative of Croatian basketball player Dra?en Petrovi?. Bodiroga's paternal grandmother and Petrovi?'s paternal grandfather are brother and sister, making Bodiroga and Petrovi? second cousins. Although he never played for the club, Bodiroga is a declared fan of Partizan and is often seen at their games. Bodiroga is one of the founding members of the Group Seven Children's Foundation.
He is one of few players who have won the EuroLeague with clubs from two different countries, and he is also one of the few players to win each of the top 3 European national domestic leagues, the Italian League, the Greek League, and the Spanish League. He has several nicknames - Bodi Bond, "White Magic", Mr. MVP, God.
Bodiroga is highly regarded by fans of Panathinaikos for his known passion in games with Greek arch-rival Olympiacos. In Serbia, he is admired for his unassuming and quiet way of going about matters off the court.