Stephen Samuel "Steve" Stipanovich (born November 17, 1960) is an American retired professional basketball player. A 6-ft 11-inch (211 cm) center from the University of Missouri, Stipanovich was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the second pick of the 1983 NBA draft. Knee problems limited his career to five seasons, and he retired in 1988 with career totals of 5,323 points and 3,131 rebounds. At Missouri, between November 1979 and March 1983, he and Jon Sundvold helped their coach Norm Stewart to four consecutive winning seasons and NCAA tournament appearances.
Stephen Samuel "Stipo" Stipanovich, son of Sam and Elaine (née Ortmann) Stipanovich, was born and raised in the St. Louis area, where his father ran a funeral home. After attending his freshman year of high school at Chaminade College Prep he transferred to De Smet Jesuit High School in suburban Creve Coeur.
While a member of the Spartans basketball team he led them to back-to-back Missouri Class 4A State Championships and a sixty-game winning streak.
Stipanovich was named Big Eight Newcomer of the Year as a freshman at the University of Missouri. As a senior in college, Stipanovich averaged over 18 points and almost 9 rebounds per game, and dominated the Big Eight Conference. In a nationally televised game, Stipanovich and teammate Greg Cavener combined to stop future NBA number one pick Ralph Sampson and upset top ranked Virginia. He was both an academic All American and a first team All American selection his senior year. His college team won over 100 games in four years.
On the evening of December 27, 1980, Stipanovich accidentally discharged a loaded firearm, hitting himself in the shoulder. He initially told police that a masked intruder, wearing cowboy boots and a flannel shirt broke into his apartment on Sunrise Drive in Columbia, Missouri, and shot him while screaming obscenities about basketball players. The next day, Stipanovich recanted the story and admitted that he shot himself by accident.
Stipanovich was taken by the Indiana Pacers with the second overall pick of the 1983 NBA draft. After a slow start to the season, Stipanovich had a productive rookie year, averaging 12.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game en route to earning NBA All-Rookie Team honors. "Stipo" remained a fixture in the Pacers' starting lineup for the next five seasons in Indianapolis, and was a model of consistency. From 1984–88, Stipanovich averaged 13 points per game and 6 rebounds per game each season while starting 292 of his 322 games.
After last-place finishes in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986, the Pacers made the 1987 NBA Playoffs – the franchise's second trip to the postseason since merging into the NBA in 1976. Stipanovich scored a team-high 22 points with 13 rebounds in a Game 1 loss in Atlanta, and continued his consistent play with playoff averages of 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The Pacers won their first ever NBA playoff game by defeating the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3, but were ultimately defeated in four games.
Stipanovich played only one more season after the playoff trip in 1987. He missed the entire 1988–89 campaign due to a degenerative knee condition which ultimately ended his career. At the time, then Pacers General Manager Donnie Walsh called him the "fifth or sixth-best center in the league" and praised him for "holding his own against the best". Stipanovich. was forced to retire in 1989, at age 28.
Following his retirement from the NBA Stipanovich tried a variety of careers including real estate sales in Oregon. He eventually returned to the St. Louis area where he is the owner/operator of a coal mine.