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Goran Dragić bids farewell to professional basketball

Slovenian basketball star Goran Dragić announced in December that he is retiring from the sport. In a post on Instagram, he officially said goodbye to the court, thanked everyone who had made a mark on his career and expressed his wish to continue working in basketball. In August 2024, Dragić will organise a farewell game in Ljubljana to celebrate the end of his career.

Goran Dragić, who led the Slovenian national basketball team to the gold medal at the 2017 European Championship in Istanbul and was named MVP of the championship, played his last game in the NBA at the end of April 2023. At the time, he was a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Dragić moved across the pond in 2008 and also played for the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.

In a post on Instagram, he officially said goodbye to the court. “All good things come to an end but this dream of basketball will always be with me. Thank you to all the fans who have cheered me on in the NBA, Europe and my beloved Slovenian national team. Thank you everyone and Happy New Year to all,” Dragić wrote at the end of a long Instagram message to his followers and the public.

“I am officially announcing my retirement from professional basketball. I have lived my greatest dream and I am extremely grateful for the countless people in my life who have enabled me to play and play this long,” wrote the captain of the gold medal-winning Slovenian team at the 2017 European Championship.

According to the Basketball Federation of Slovenia, Dragić is still the Slovenian national team's record holder in terms of appearances (90) and points scored in both official (1,095) and overall games (1,760).

In a longer post, he thanked his parents, his brother Zoran, his two children and their mother, and the rest of his family who made it possible for him to put basketball first. “I thank my earliest coaches, Branko Bavdaž, Spasoje Todorović, Zoran Martič, Aleš Pipan, Dalibor Damjanovič, Memi Bečirović and Aleksandar Đikić, who trained me and believed in my from my childhood,” Dragić emphasised.

He also thanked his teammates and especially his mentors. He highlighted star player Steve Nash, coach Igor Kokoškov and fellow Slovenian Radoslav Nesterović. “These are my friends for life,” he wrote, adding the names of the two agents who supported him in his most difficult times.

Dragić continued his thankyou post by expressing his wish to stay in basketball: “I am ready to pursue my next challenge. I’d love to stay involved in the game of basketball, which is and always will be my passion.”

Dončić, Jokić and Antetokounmpo at Goran Dragić's farewell game on 24 August

The farewell game of Slovenian basketball ace Goran Dragić will take place on 24 August in Stožice. The guest players include Luka Dončić, Nikola Jokić, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steve Nash and Jimmy Butler, Bogdan Bogdanović, Luis Scola, Jimmy Butler, Kevin McHale, Jeff Hornacek, Marc Gasol, and the entire Slovenian national team with whom Dragić became the 2017 European champions.

The primary focus of the two-day event marking the official end of Goran Dragić’s playing career will be on charity, with all proceeds from the gala dinner on 23 August and then the game at Stožice hall a day later going to humanitarian organisations.

Eighty percent of the proceeds will go to the Ljubljana Moste Polje Friends of Youth Association, while the remaining 20 percent will go to the Goran Dragić Foundation, which in 2024 will, among other things, renovate the basketball court in Ptuj and organise the 10th anniversary basketball camp for young people in Laško.

“First and foremost, I want us to raise as much money as possible for charities, and secondly, I want this two-day event to remain stamped in everyone’s memory. I want to present Ljubljana and Slovenia in the best possible light to the guests from the USA so that they will take home unforgettable memories,” said Goran Dragić.

The Slovenian national scoring record holder and member of the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks emphasised that he sees himself continuing to work in basketball or sport after his playing career is over. He would prefer to work with a club in Miami, where he will now live.

Author: Danila Golob

Date: 5. January 2024

Time to read: 2 min