NBA champion’s biggest score for Serbian Youth: Vlade Divac at TEDxViadellaConciliazione

NBA champion’s biggest score for Serbian Youth: Vlade Divac at TEDxViadellaConciliazione

Translator: Mirjana Čutura
Reviewer: Tijana Mihajlović Well, I had the most difficult time
in my career in 1996, when Los Angeles Lakers traded me
to Charlotte Hornets. I felt unwanted. I lost confidence. I felt very bad going to Charlotte
and starting playing for them, especially my first ten games. It felt like I’d never played
basketball before. Even though I was
one of the best centers in the league, I became one of the worst. I couldn’t score. I couldn’t rebound.
I lost balls all the time. So one day, I came home,
talked to my wife. Actually, she asked me
what was going on with me and I tried to explain
and find all those excuses. And my wife, knowing about sports only that her husband is a basketball player, mentioned something that really
helped me change the situation. She asked me, “Why do you feel that way?” I said, “My team, the Lakers,
didn’t want me, and they sent me here.” She said, “I understood
you’re playing for the NBA. You don’t have a single team;
you play for the whole NBA.” And it really meant something to me because my dream as a child
was to play for the NBA and, from that moment, I started playing
basketball the way I used to play. And I had fun, especially in those years
when I played for Sacramento Kings against those same Lakers. (Laughter) In 1989, I left my country,
and I was born in Yugoslavia. I was born and raised
in a communist system. But not the communism that probably most of you
think about as the Eastern Block. We were more flexible. We had a lot of freedom to go, to travel, to listen to foreign music,
to watch foreign movies. Except one thing, you know – they taught us not to believe in God because our religion was communism. And how they did so? It was one day when the teacher
came to school – we were kids in class – and asked us to pray to God to bring us
some chocolate and cookies. So, we prayed and nothing happened, and he asked us to pray
to our president of the country, Tito, to pray to him to bring
those chocolate and cookies. And somebody showed up at the door
and brought all those things. (Laughter) And they made proof, you know. So we grew up in the environment
where we are all friends, and we are all close –
no difference between us. Even though there were Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Albanians, Slovenians. Different religions: Muslims, Catholics,
Orthodox Christians, Jews. But actually, we didn’t care about that. We, like I said, had communism
as our religion. Our apartments were the same, you know. Our couches were
in the same spot, you know. Our pictures were
in the same spot on the walls. So basically, we lived life, we were
the same – no difference between us. So two years after I left,
my country had a big trauma. The civil war started
between all those same people – Serbs, Bosnians, and Croats, or as the media want to use it: Muslims,
Orthodox Christians, and Catholics. They use those kinds of things
as they want, to manipulate things. And the worst thing that happened to me
is that I heard the news that a friend of mine
who I grew up and went to school with – and I remember him as a kid
that was brave, helping everybody, and was a very good kid – joined the army, the Bosnian army. Even though he was from Serbia,
he was a Muslim. He went to Bosnia
to fight against the Serbs. So I couldn’t understand then. I thought maybe it was a mistake,
but my mom told me it was true because his mom came to my mom
to visit and talk about that. She was afraid something
is going to happen to him. Later on, I heard that he was
very brutal in that war. So, like I said, I couldn’t understand
why people can change and why they do things
like that just overnight. What happens at those moments when you really shift
from one side to another just in a second? So, like I said, my career was
in the United States playing basketball but, at the same time, watching
the news, what was going on back home. And I saw all those wars, and the Serbian people
got kicked out from Croatia. Just in two day, 300,000 people
lost everything and went to Serbia. Two years later, 200,000 people
got kicked out from Kosovo and went to Serbia,
that was under economic sanctions. So Serbia was the number one country
in Europe with refugees, and I decided to help those people not just to support
students and oppositions to overthrow the regime
in Serbia at that time, but to do even more
by creating a foundation and working with people to collect money and bring happiness to those kids
that had the trauma of the war. So a friend of my who was working
in a foundation asked me, “Which kids are we going to help?” And I asked, “What do you mean
‘which kids’? Our kids.” Well, he said, “Well, in Serbia,
we have a lot of different kids. We have Serbian kids,
we have Croatian kids, we have Bosnian kids.” And I was shocked,
but I didn’t have an answer. So I told him, you know, “Let me have some time
and I will get you the answer tomorrow.” So usually when it’s a difficult time,
I try to be alone and go into nature. At that time, I was walking by the river
thinking about what my answer would be. And I thought about the war,
the pictures of those people – Serbian people, Serbian mothers cry
losing kids in the war, and nobody talks about them. You really found little about the tragedy and the victims
of the Serbian people in that war. And I was close to making a decision: of course, I was going
to help Serbian kids because the Muslim world
helped the Muslims, the Catholics helped the Catholics. I’m an Orthodox Christian; of course
I am going to help Orthodox kids. But at that moment, I didn’t feel right. And thinking about the past,
I had an opportunity to talk to the late patriarch
of the Serbian church, Pavle, who told me once that when we are born, we don’t have a choice
to choose a family – be it Muslim, or Orthodox, or Catholic; what we have a choice
is to be a good person. And at that moment,
I received a sign from God that I had to do something big
and help all kids. Going back, I told my friend,
“We’re going to help all kids regardless of their religion,
nationality, or race.” At that moment, I actually understood
that friend of mine, Samir, who went to the war. He was brave. He tried to do good. The only mistake he made – he chose the side, he chose the team. So recently, we launched a campaign,
‘Be One in a Million’, and our idea is to bring
at least one million people to share the same values
and not to choose the team. Thank you. (Applause)

8 thoughts on “NBA champion’s biggest score for Serbian Youth: Vlade Divac at TEDxViadellaConciliazione

  1. Vlade is a good guy and great basketball player. The only thing he should have said here I WHY did the Serbs got "kicked out of Croatia"… Seems like he has "forgotten" that those Serbs have occupied an already independent country using terrorist methods and so on…. Vlade needs a history lesson.

  2. This is a reason why he lost his friendship with Dražen. A typical serbian style,the "job" they always do and what they know best. A LIE.

  3. Масон. Лепо он омогући "Косову" пријем у Међународни олимпијски одбор. Јел' овај канал финансира Сорош?

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