In 1959, in the small town of Springfield, Massachusetts, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was built. It got its name after University professor and Canadian-American sports innovator James Naismith (1861 – 1939), who invented basketball in 1891. There are several Croatian athletes in the Hall of Fame. Among them are American born Kevin McHale, Starčević on his mother’s side, John Havlicek, Turkalj on his mother’s side, and George Mikan, while Krešimir Čosić, Dražen Petrović, and Mirko Novosel make up the list of Croatian born athletes.


James Naismith (1861 – 1939)



Springfield, Naismith Memorial, basketball Hall of Fame

George Mikan (1924 – 2005) was born in the town of Joliet, Illinois, and his parents were from the vicinity of Karlovac. He began his career in 1944. He was the first player over two meters tall in the NBA league. He was the reason several rules for the game were changed, including the 24 second ball possession rule. He played for the Chicago American Gears and Minneapolis Lakers. He was declared the greatest player of the first half of the 20th century, as he was both an exceptional professional and a superstar.



George Mikan (1924 – 2005)[1]


Krešimir Ćosić (1948 – 1995) was a legendary basketball player from Zadar, where he had won his first trophy, who went on to win every possible trophy in amateur basketball. He continued his career as a professional player in the Brigham Young University club in the state of Utah. He was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.


Kreso 1           Kreso 2

Krešimir Ćosić (1948 – 1995)[2]

Dražen Petrović (1964 – 1993) began his career with a pair of silver Olympic medals. From 1989, he played for the Portland Trailblazers and the New Jersey Nets in the NBA league. His career ended when he was killed in a traffic accident. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Drazen 1                   Drazen i Frane Matosic

Dražen Petrović (1964 – 1993), on the right with Frane Matošić, a player from Hajduk.[3]


Mirko Novosel, a basketball player and coach, was born in Zagreb, in 1938. He is the most decorated basketball coach, has numerous national and European trophies to his name, and was declared the top coach in Europe, in 1985. He held three Olympic medals, one of which was gold. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.


Novosel 1                      Novosel 2

Mirko Novosel[4]


[1] Photo from Public Domain

[2] Photos courtesty of the Sports Museum in Split.

[3] Photos courtesy of the Sports Museum in Split

[4] See 16.