SLOBODAN GORDIC - RICA

Slobodan Gordic – Rica was born on September 28, 1937 in Cacak. He made his first basketball steps on a newly-built court in Hadzi – Popovac. Same as Korac, Gordic moved from junior to the first team. An excellent all-round player, witty and a bit childish in his nature, Rica was always both his teammates and Belgrade fans’ favourite.

His rise was not swift, but constant and firm. Tall, with harmonious movements and great playing style, Gordic won the hearts of Belgrade basketball fans in the 60s. He was the backbone of the blue-white team, especially in offence. He had a very accurate yet sudden shot, occurring then when the defence player least expected it. Following Gordic’s actions, the opponents would remain still, surprised by the unexpected shot from an impossible position resulting in a point. Professor Aca Nikolic, Yugoslav national team head coach, did not fail to notice all these qualities, and consequently, in 1958, Rica put the national team jersey on and wore it for many years participating in the national team’s triumphs in Bologna, Rome and Belgrade.

His sense of humour and liveliness have always characterised Rica. It was not rare that during the team’s journeys for matches abroad, somebody from the team would call out, “Rica, c’mon!” and Gordic would start telling jokes for hours, without pausing or repetition, causing laughter and tears of all those present, until the team would not reach the destination.

Slobodan Gordic – Rica was known in friendly circles as an „eternal high school student”. The fact was that Rica could do everything save for one thing – spend time with a book. This was especially disliked by his father Zarko, who was a civil engineer, and who did not want his son only to rely on sport talent. Striving to somewhat guide his son in intellectual direction, Gordic’s father Zarko did not hesitate to interrupt the training of the first team.

“It was a hot summer day and the afternoon training was ongoing.” – the then president of the club Milorad Trgovcevic – Sema remembers. “We had preparations for some very important match. Bora (Stankovic) was a coach, when all of a sudden Rica’s father appeared on the court. He was very angry and started shouting at Rica. Bora tried to calm him down, but he turned his fury on Bora and the club, accusing them, in the heat of the moment, of distracting his son from school books. Bora was at the end of nerves that day, so he retorted. Seeing that the situation was getting out of control, I stepped in, apologised to Rica’s father Zarko and explained to him that the club had no such intentions, and that we (as a club) would pay for teachers who would help Rica master the school curriculum. That was what we did. Zarko found teachers and the club paid for the classes. To make sure that his son was really taking the classes, Gordic’s father and I went to visit these “additional lessons”. Everything looked in order there. An inspired teacher was explaining Rica high school phrases in his house, while this one attentively listened. Satisfied with a job well done, upon leaving the teacher’s house, Rica’s father and I separated. On my way home, I visited the training and on my extreme astonishment I found Rica on the court. He had a ready answer, “Sema, don’t you know that the house also has windows besides door!?”. We all had a good laugh.

When the championship team in 1967 separated, Rica, together with Korac, went to play in Belgium. In addition to recognition, he found there the love of his life. He has been living there since then. However, every year, on his way to his hometown Cacak and his summer house in Zlatibor, he visits his old friends in Belgrade, where the story telling about “blue heroes” lasts until late into the night mixing itself with the Skadarlija sounds.

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