Mirko Novosel, the celebrated and legendary Croatian basketball player, coach, and member of the Hall of Fame, died at 86
The most decorated Croatian basketball coach won everything that could be won. He was born in Zagreb and took charge of basketball like few other coaches in this area. From 1952, he was an active basketball player for about fifteen years. After finishing his career, he decided to stay in basketball and became the coach of Lokomotive, which later became Cibona, with a unique sense for the club’s organization. His thorough and dedicated work soon began to bear fruit. Lokomotiva, later Cibona, became one of the most important European clubs.
He led the Croatian national team to the European bronze medal in 1993 and is one of the most deserving people who enabled Croatia to play at the Olympic Games held in Barcelona 1992. Then Croatia played the final against the Dream Team and took the sensational silver. He led the Yugoslav national team to as many as five medals, including two European golds (1973, 1975), world silver, and Olympic silver and bronze. As the coach of Yugoslavia, he achieved some of the sensational ratios in basketball. Here it is necessary to mention how he drove the Russians crazy, that is, the then Soviet Union, against which the Yugoslav national team had a ratio of 11-0.
He left a vast and indelible mark in Cibona, with whom he won the European Champions Cup, was the champion of Yugoslavia three times, and won the Cup seven times. At the same time, twice he led it to the European Cup Winners’ Cup trophy. Mirko was also responsible for bringing Dražen Petrović to Cibon in 1984. He created the foundations for some of the most famous pages in the history of Zagreb and Croatian club sports. He managed players such as Ćosić, Kićanović, Žižić, Knego, Delibašić, Slavnić and many others.
The Universiade in Zagreb, which took place in 1987, had Mirko’s signature. In those days, the capital of Croatia became one of the most important European metropolises, and Novosel was the first operator of that competition.
For many, he was a favorite interlocutor on basketball topics, a chronicler of all events, and a man who fondly remembered the golden times when Croatian basketball was on the right track on the European and world map. He entered the Basketball hall of Fame in 2007, and three years later, FIBA included him in the company of immortals.
Mirko Novosel was a tremendous and unquestionable basketball authority and a great connoisseur. He is one of those who will leave an irreparable void in Croatian sport. Will someone succeed in surpassing Mirko Novosel? We highly doubt it.