Kalemegdan playing courts had immediately overcome their size. The sports events in Kalemegdan, especially the new game under the hoops, gathered all prominent people from various fields. With the rhythms of jazz, swing and twist, produced by the famous Bubisa Simic band, and the whole-day thud of the ball, Mali Kalemegdan (Small Kalemegdan) swayed in the rhythms of perfect music and pure emotions. Practically entire Belgrade social life was in those post-war years within the Kalemegdan fortress ramparts. Students and youth accepted basketball with great enthusiasm. Through this game, they saw the possibility for recognition. Basketball was for them more that throwing the ball through the net. It was the beauty, power and skill policy, the game which they liked and though which they wanted to be liked. A wave of positive energy spread over Belgrade and the whole country, creating condition for more serious forms of sports organisations, that is, establishing of sports societies, i.e. sport clubs.
Basketball club “Metalac” made its debut in the national basketball championship in 1946, and was ranked sixth, which was a rather good entering position. In the period up to 1950, the biggest success was in 1949, when it was fifth.
In 1950, on proposal of the then famous Belgrade journalist Vladimir Dedijer, the entire sports society changed its name into BSK (Beogradski Sportski Klub – Belgrade Sports Club). More or less successful, basketball club BSK participated in the first Federal league until 1955 when it was out of the competition and transferred into a lower rank, that is, Serbian league. However, BSK team did not lose its faith and sports spirit, and despite difficult conditions, working hard returned to the Federal league already one year later. It took third position announcing the period in which the name of club and its stars would be written in golden letters, in the domestic and international scene.
THORNY ROAD TO STARDOM...
Three years were particularly important for the formation of the championship team and the generation that would bring glory to the club from Celareva Street: 1953, 1954 and 1956.
The year 1956, although disastrous in terms of competition, brought key changes for the development of the club and the formation of the championship generation. Namely, in 1956, the club built its own court in 12, Celareva Street, setting in that way the infrastructural basis for qualitative and quantitative training process, that is, ending the process of the then BSK players’ “moving around” on other clubs’ courts.
Upon its comeback from the Serbian League to the Yugoslav Championship, and securing the third place in the final teams’ placement, in 1958, the club changed its name into OKK Beograd, keeping it until now.
In 1958, playing in the Yugoslav Championship, OKK Beograd was superior to all great clubs of the time from the former SFRY. Korac and friends defeated Olimpija (105-67), Red Star (67-65), Partizan (104-89), Zadar (111-84)… This winning streak in the domestic competition was finalized in the most beautiful way: the club earned its first state champion’s trophy… All participants in the domestic competition in 1958 understood that the Yugoslav basketball received a new superb club, which should be counted with in the future… istorijat6 OKK Beograd’s international performance in the season 1958/59 was also remarkable. On the way to semi-finals in the European Champions Cup, OKK Beograd eliminated AEK from Athens and the French champions Charleville from Mezieres, only to be defeated in the semi-finals by Akademik from Sofia, with a weaker point difference on the opponent’s court (Belgrade: 79-69; Sofia: 94-77).
In the period 1959-1962, ОКК Beograd recorded major successes. Following a low ranking in the domestic championship in 1959, in the season of 1960, OKK returned to the throne, defeating its opponents more powerfully and compellingly than in the first championship season, winning the state champions title for the second time. In this period, in international competitions, many clubs and national teams, “surrendered” to Zucko and his teammates, at home or on the road:
1960 – national team of Morocco, Lech (Warsaw, Polish champion)
1961 – Simenthal (Milan), Virtus (Bologna), Racing (Paris), Antwerpse (Belgium champion)
In 1962, OKK Beograd underwent changes on the coaching position. Due to obligations in the international basketball organisation, Bora Stankovic handed in the team coach position to Professor Aca Nikolic. Headed by Nikolic, OKK Beograd finished the season as second, losing to Olimpija from Ljubljana in the finals. However, despite this, in 1962, the Belgrade club won a new trophy after defeating Partizan 103-82 – that of the Yugoslav Cup champion.
The years 1963 and 1964 would remain remembered as the most successful in OKK Beograd’s history.
In 1963, Коrac, Erkic, Gordic, М. Nikolic, Т. Rajkovic, Pavelic, Tosic, Lj. Stankovic, Pazmanj, Kosovic, Ivackovic and Gajin “strolled” through the First League defeating all their opponents with an average 25-point- difference, scoring 15 wins and only 3 losses. In the final match, OKK defeated Partizan as well, earning another state champion’s title.
In 1964, Bora Stankovic returned as OKK Beograd’s coach, aiming at defending the championship title from the previous season. In the new season, similarly to the previous one, Korac and his friends were successful playing on their own court as well as on the opponents’ courts all over Yugoslavia. In the matches with OKK Beograd, Red Star, Partizan, Zadar, Slovan, Split, Olimpija, Lokomotiva, Radnicki were all defeated. The end result was the same: 15 wins and three losses, and another Yugoslav champion’s title for the team from Celareva Street.
Following OKK Beograd’s “golden years” (period 1957-1965) the championship team separates. Korac and Gordic leave to Belgium, Nikolic to Turkey, etc. The period without trophies lasted until 1993, when headed by Rajko Zizic, the club from Celareva Str. won the National Cup for the second time in its history.
NOW AND THEN...
Nowadays, ОКК Beograd represents a modern basketball club, where the high-quality trainings of both the first and younger teams take place. This sports environment gathers large number of young basketball players, national team players, who, playing for the OKK Beograd, gain experiences in the First League and develop into aspirant senior players.
Establishing its position in the First League, ОКК Beograd’s first team trains and plays in the Pionir Hall. Building of the sports centre “Radivoj Korac” in Celareva Street is currently in its final phase, and it is expected to be the infrastructural basis of the training process in “Zucko’s home”, a nest where some new Korac, Nikolic, Gordic and others are to be raised; new basketball forces which would strive to bring the old glory back to OKK Beograd.