February 21, 2011
NBA fans have seen many Europeans come to the league over the last decade without making a Nowitzkian or Gasolesque impact: Sarunas Jasikevicius, Sergei Monia, Jiri Welsch, Maciej Lampe, and Aleksandr Radojevic are just five of many. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise -- there are few true stars in the league, and foreign countries should be capable of producing uninspiring fringe prospects just like America can.
Every so often, though, one of these players finds a way to distinguish himself in the league even as his career peters out. For Predrag Drobnjak, a native of Montenegro who spent four seasons as a big man with the Sonics, Clippers and Hawks from 2001 to 2005, that fame came in the form of what is undoubtedly the greatest individual player website of all time. It's called Drobnjak's Manjaks, and it features ramshackle Flash animation worthy of a Michel Gondry project.
Drobnjak retired last week after 19 years in professional basketball. While he may not have lit the NBA on fire, he had a great career, winning two gold medals at the World Championships with Yugoslavia. Despite those accomplishments, Drobnjak will be best remembered for his website, not his play.
That's perfectly fine. Because when you venture over to Drobnjak's Manjaks, it's impossible not to smile. You can listen to Peja's Robert De Niro impression, or his advice to kids ("Stay in school ... it's free!"). There are also regular appearances by his cat Jinkies. It's hard to explain any single part of Drobnjak's Manjaks, but it all comes together to show that Predrag was one of the more lovable athletes in the league during his time with Seattle.There are few better ways to honor a retired player than by saying he brought every fan joy. With this website, Predrag Drobnjak did exactly that. May he spend the rest of his life on his couch with Jinkies and a pile of Robert De Niro DVDs.