Vladimir Radmanovic, our favorite space cadet, has reportedly retired from basketball

Eric Freeman
October 8, 2013

Although it has become less popular in recent seasons, there exists a fairly popular stereotype about European basketball players. By this view, all Euros are fairly tall, affectless shooters who willfully avoid contact and generally prefer skill to the dirty work that wins games. They're selfish, a little aloof, and not entirely focused on the needs of the team. Maybe they even smoke cigarettes, call Americans "pig-dogs," and read nihilist philosophy.

Like many stereotypes, this one is not accurate. European players have continually proven themselves willing to mix it up in the paint, set hard picks, hit big shots in crunch time, and generally play basketball with the variety of skills that we've seen from players from many regions and nations over several decades. European athletes are people, not types, and so they come in many forms.

Yet, if the stereotype persists, it's in part because of players like Serbian forward Vladimir Radmanovic. Over 12 NBA seasons with seven NBA teams, Radmanovic cultivated an image as a disinterested party who played professional basketball largely because someone once told him he was good at it. Who knew what motivated him, or what a team could depend on from him in any particular game? It was as if those in favor of the Euro stereotype created him to justify their prejudices.

This is all relevant now because reports from Serbia suggest that Radmanovic has retired from the game of basketball. From inSerbia.info (via PBT):

Former Serbian national team player Vladimir Radmanovic decided to end his active career, basketball portals reported. [...]

Radmanovic played 737 matches in NBA and had an average of 21.9 minutes per match, 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in the league part of the season.

He refused to play for Serbian national team several times, but then joined it in 2002 and with the team won gold in Indianapolis at the World Cup. It was in this competition where his conflict with coach Svetislav Pesic began after which Radmanovic had to leave the team.

Radmanovic was not a particularly easy player to like, to put it lightly. In addition to his tiff with his national team coach, Vlad Rad — whom Phil Jackson once accurately called a "space cadet" — made a habit of angering his employers. In 2007, he famously separated his shoulder during the All-Star Break, lied to the Lakers about the cause because he was snowboarding, and was subsequently fined $500,000 by the team. Yet that story is really just emblematic of Radmanovic's tendencies. Watching him on a nightly basis was a very frustrating experience, because he could alternate incredible shooting performances (he was 6-10 with range, after all) with deplorable displays of ineptitude. It was somehow both fitting and nuts, then, when Vladimir Radmanovic admonished his Golden State Warriors teammates for their lackluster effort in 2010. The lack of self-awareness made eminent sense.

The announcement of his retirement should not be incredibly surprising. In 2012-13, Radmanovic managed just 25 games and 144 total minutes as a member of the Chicago Bulls. He's proven everything he every will in the sport and earned more than $43 million for his troubles. It's tough to say anyone will miss him especially much, but it's also true that he had a full career.

Radmanovic was a hard player to love. However, simply because he managed to so clearly embody a particular image of a European basketball player, Radmanovic will probably be remembered by more people than his on-court accomplishments would suggest. He was a character, and the sports leagues need as many of them as they can get.