Želimir "Željko" Obradović (Serbian Cyrillic: Желимир "Жељко" Обрадовић; born 9 March 1960) is a Serbian professional basketball coach and former player. He currently serves as a head coach for Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Super League and the EuroLeague.
Generally considered as the best European head coach, and regarded by many as the greatest European head coach of all time, Obradović has won 41 club titles in his coaching career, including nine EuroLeague titles with five different clubs, and has also made 18 EuroLeague Final Four appearances, during his coaching career. His list of professional titles won is unmatched by any other European head coach. In addition to his success at the club level, he has also won major trophies as the head coach of the senior FR Yugoslavian national team, most notably winning the gold medals at the 1997 EuroBasket and the 1998 FIBA World Championship.
Among his individual coaching awards, he has won three EuroLeague Coach of the Year and four Greek Basket League Best Coach awards. In 2008, he was named one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors, as a head coach.
Obradović was born March 9, 1960, in Čačak, PR Serbia, FPR Yugoslavia.
Borac Čačak (1978–1984)
Obradović started his club career as a basketball player with Borac Čačak, in their youth system.
During the 1977–78 season, then eighteen-year-old Obradović, got his first taste of senior men's team basketball at Borac, as he appeared in 6 Yugoslav First Federal League games during the season, and contributed a total of 3 points. After eventually establishing himself as the team's starting point guard, he stayed with the club until 1984.
Partizan Belgrade (1984–1991)
Over the summer of 1984, the at the time twenty-four-year-old Obradović, joined Partizan Belgrade. He was brought in by Partizan's incoming head coach at that time Moka Slavnić, and the club's vice president at the time Dragan Kićanović, both of which were recent retirees from their playing careers, and who had previously starred on the senior Yugoslav national team, throughout the 1970s, as a legendary point guard and shooting guard duo.
In Obradović's third season with the team, Partizan won the 1986–87 season title of the Yugoslav League. In the following season, they reached the 1987–88 season edition of the European Champions Cup's Final Four. Finally, they won the 1989 Yugoslavian Cup and the Korać Cup's championship of the 1988–89 season. During his time at Partizan, Obradović established himself as one of the best and most reliable point guards in Yugoslavia's top level league.
National team career
Obradović was a member of the junior national teams of Yugoslavia. With Yugoslavia's under-19 national team, he played at the 1979 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. He was also a member of the senior Yugoslavian national team. With Yugoslavia's senior national team, he won a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics, and a gold medal at the 1990 FIBA World Championship.
End of playing career
Obradović's playing career came to a halt, when he was sentenced to two years in prison, due to causing the death of a pedestrian, in a car accident. After serving his prison sentence, Obradović returned to the court as a player, and already in his latter days as a player, he began coaching Partizan Belgrade's youth team. He retired from playing basketball in 1991, and he then immediately signed on as the head coach of the senior team of the club.
Obradović's greatness as a professional club basketball coach, is fully confirmed by the great collection of titles he has acquired in his twenty-eight-year career as a head coach, including: a record 9 European-wide premiere level EuroLeague championships (won with five different teams), a record 14 EuroLeague Finals appearances, a record 18 EuroLeague Final Four appearances, two European-wide secondary level Saporta Cup championships, and numerous national domestic league championships and national cups.
Partizan Belgrade (1991–1993)
Obradović's coaching career began quite suddenly in the summer of 1991 while he was still an active thirty-one-year-old Partizan Belgrade player getting ready for EuroBasket 1991 with the Yugoslav national team. Selected and coached by Dušan Ivković, the 1991 national squad was to be captained by Obradović — the oldest player among the assembled group. However, after finishing the training camp in Poreč and coming back to Belgrade to sleep over before leaving in the morning for a preparation friendly tournament in Germany, Obradović got called in for a meeting with the Partizan management — club president Radojica Nikčević, vice-president Dragan Kićanović, as well as board members Đorđe "Siske" Čolović, Milorad "Miketa" Đurić, and Dragan Todorić — who convinced him to take over the Partizan head coaching job, which entailed retiring from playing effective immediately thus giving up a chance to captain the national team at the upcoming EuroBasket.
The idea was to have Obradović, a debutante head coach, work under the guidance of experienced elder statesman of Yugoslav basketball sixty-seven-year-old professor Aca Nikolić whose coaching advisory services were soon secured by Kićanović and the management team. Also joining the club's front office in the technical director capacity was another fresh retiree from playing, thirty-one-year-old Milenko Savović, Obradović's longtime teammate at Partizan, who had spent the previous 1990–91 season playing for Vojvodina.
In the 1991–92 season, Partizan had a 20–2 record in the regular season of 1991–92 YUBA League. In the Playoffs of final series, it won with 3–0 against Crvena zvezda. It also won the Yugoslav Basketball Cup in 1992, after 105–70 win over Bosna in the final game. In European competition, Obradović led the youngest team to become the champions of 1991–92 FIBA European League, on the spur of breakup of Yugoslavia. Partizan played its international matches in Fuenlabrada, Spain, due to international sanctions imposed on FR Yugoslavia.
In 1992–93 season, Partizan was runner-up to Crvena zvezda with 3–2 record in the final series. In 1993 Yugoslav Basketball Cup, it lost with 104–91 in the final game to OKK Beograd.
In 1993, Obradović signed a contract with the Spanish team Joventut, based in Badalona, where Partizan played its international matches in 1991–92 season. With Joventut, he won the 1993–94 FIBA European League. In Liga ACB, Joventut finished in 3rd place with 24–14 record. In 1994 Copa del Rey de Baloncesto, Joventut was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Real Madrid (1994–1997)
After the end of season, Obradović signed a contract with Real Madrid. In his first season with the club, Real Madrid failed to defend the Liga ACB title, finishing in 3rd place with 27–19 record. In 1995 Copa del Rey de Baloncesto, Real Madrid finished in 4th place. However, he won the 1994–95 FIBA European League.
In 1995–96 season, Real Madrid didn't manage to take any title. In Liga ACB, Real Madrid finished in 5th place with 28–12 record. In 1996 Copa del Rey de Baloncesto, Real Madrid finished in 3rd place. On the European scene, Obradović made his third consecutive Final Four appearance and second with Real Madrid, but ended losing in 3rd place game. In 1996–97 season, Real Madrid finished as the runner-up in theLiga ACB and was also eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 1997 Copa del Rey de Baloncesto. In European competitions, Real Madrid participated in second-tier FIBA Saporta Cup and eventually won it with 78–64 in the final game over Verona. At the end of the season, Obradović parted ways with the team.
Benetton Treviso (1997–1999)
In the summer of 1997, Obradović signed a contract with the Italian team Benneton Treviso. In 1997–98 season, Treviso was eliminated in the quarterfinal series of the Serie A1 Playoffs with 3–2 record by Reggio Emilia. In 1997–98 FIBA EuroLeague, Treviso finished in 3rd place after 96–89 win over Partizan Belgrade in the Final Four.
In 1998–99 season, Treviso finished as the runner-up in the Serie A1 Playoffs, after 3–0 record in the final series against Varese. Also, Treviso won the FIBA Saporta Cup, following 64–60 win in the final game over Valencia.
In the summer of 1999, Obradović became the head coach of Panathinaikos. In his first season with the club, he won the 1999–2000 Greek Basket League with 3–0 record in the final series against P.A.O.K. Thessaloniki. In 2000 Greek Basketball Cup final, it lost with 59–57 by AEK Athens. Also, Panathinaikos won the 1999–2000 FIBA EuroLeague, after 73–67 win in the final game over Maccabi Tel Aviv. It was club's second EuroLeague championship in history.
Obradović stayed with Panathinaikos until 2012, leading the team to become the top club in European club basketball during that time, while simultaneously maintaining the club at the top position in the Greek national championship. In total, Obradović won with Panathinaikos eleven Greek League championships, seven Greek Cups and five EuroLeague titles (2000, 2002, 2007, 2009, and 2011).
In 2007, he achieved winning the highly coveted Triple Crown championship, for the second time as a head coach (the first was in 1992 with Partizan), and won the EuroLeague Coach of the Year award. Also in 2009, in Berlin, he completed this achievement as head coach for the third time. In 2011, he won his 8th EuroLeague trophy overall, and 5th with Panathinaikos.
Despite winning the Greek Cup in the 2011–12 season, Panathinaikos finished 4th in the 2011–12 season of the EuroLeague, while Olympiacos was crowned the EuroLeague champion. Following this disappointment, Panathinaikos lost to Olympiacos, 3 games to 2, in a best-of-five Greek League Finals series. After that, in June 2012, Obradović announced that he was stepping down as the head coach of Panathinaikos, after 13 consecutive seasons.
In early July 2013, Obradović signed a two-year contract with the Turkish club Fenerbahçe, that was reportedly worth €3 million in net income salary, over the contract period. After inheriting a roster with point guard Bo McCalebb and versatile shooting guards / small forwards Bojan Bogdanović and Emir Preldžić, the famous head coach added a pair of marquee forwards, in Linas Kleiza and Nemanja Bjelica. He additionally signed Luka Žorić and Melih Mahmutoğlu, as well as talented youngsters Ömer Yurtseven and Kenan Sipahi.
In his first season with the club, Obradović won the Turkish League championship, following a 4–3 record in the league's finals series against Galatasaray. In the 2014 Turkish Cup, Fenerbahçe were eliminated in the semifinals by Pınar Karşıyaka. In the 2013–14 Euroleague season, they reached the Top 16 stage.
In the 2014–15 season, Fenerbahçe finished the regular season of the Turkish League in first place, with a 23–7 record. In the Turkish League Playoffs, they were eliminated in the semifinals series by Karşıyaka Basket, with a 3–1 record. They were also runners-up in the 2015 Turkish Cup. In the 2014–15 Euroleague season, Fenerbahçe reached the 2015 Euroleague Final Four, where they were eliminated in the semifinals, and later lost in the 3rd place game. The appearance in the EuroLeague Final Four was the first in the club's long history. On May 25, 2015, after the end of season, he signed a two-year extension with Fenerbahçe.
In the 2015–16 season, Fenerbahçe finished in second place in the Turkish Super League regular season, with a 24–6 record. In the Turkish Super League Playoffs, Fenerbahçe went on to win the league championship, with a 4–2 record in the finals series against Anadolu Efes. The club also won the 2016 Turkish Cup. In the 2015–16 Euroleague season, they finished as runners-up, after losing against CSKA Moscow in the final game of the 2016 Final Four.
On November 18, 2016, Ozan Balaban, a board member of Fenerbahçe SK, declared at the QNB Finansbank sponsorship ceremony of the club, that Obradović would sign a new three-year deal with the club. On December 3, 2016, Obradović officially extended his contract with the club, until the end of the 2019–20 season.
In the 2016–17 season, Fenerbahçe finished with a 28–2 record in the Turkish Super League regular season, and eventually won the league championship. after a 4–0 record in the finals series over rivals Beşiktaş. On May 21, 2017, Fenerbahçe won the EuroLeague championship finals game against Olympiacos, which was the first EuroLeague championship in the club's history, and also the first for any Turkish team. In the summer of 2017, two of the team's core players, Bogdan Bogdanović and Ekpe Udoh, left the team and moved to the NBA.
In the 2017–18 season, Fenerbahçe once again finished the Turkish Super League regular season in first place, with a dominant 27–3 record. In the 2018 Turkish Cup, Fenerbahçe were eliminated early in the quarterfinals, by the eventual cup winners, Anadolu Efes. In the 2017–18 EuroLeague season, Fenerbahçe made it to the 2018 EuroLeague Final Four, their fourth consecutive Final Four appearance. Eventually, they lost to Real Madrid, by a score of 80–85, in the final game. At the end of the season, Fenerbahçe won its third consecutive Turkish Super League title, after winning the league's finals series 4–1 against Tofaş.
In the 2018–19 season, Fenerbahçe lost to Efes in the Turkish Presidential Cup Final, and later beat Efes in the 2019 Turkish Cup Final. They also lost to Efes in the Turkish Super League playoff's finals series, 4–3. In the 2018–19 EuroLeague season, the club made its fifth straight EuroLeague Final Four appearance, as they qualified to the 2019 EuroLeague Final Four, where they finished in fourth place.
National team coaching career
Obradović worked as the head coach of the senior FR Yugoslavian national basketball team, from 1996 to 2000. With FR Yugoslavia, he won a silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, a gold medal at the EuroBasket 1997, a gold medal at the 1998 FIBA World Championship, and a bronze medal at the EuroBasket 1999. He was also the Serbia and Montenegro national team head coach, from 2004 to 2005.
Well known for his temperamental approach, Obradović often utilized a system heavy on pick-and-rolls, focusing on using the corners and back passes to open up the offense and make it more difficult for the defense to commit. With Panathinaikos, from 2004 onward, he made center Mike Batiste and point guard Dimitris Diamantidis the focal points of this pick-and-roll setup.
Revered San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has been a longtime admirer of Obradović's coaching style, frequently praising him and admitting to "stealing his plays". In turn, Obradović, ahead of his second season coaching Fenerbahce, talked about spending a significant portion of the summer 2014 off-season, dissecting the San Antonio game, particularly positioning and ball movement, with a view of implementing it into his team.
|G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win-loss %|
Note: The EuroLeague is not the only competition in which the team played during the season. He also coached in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.
|1991–92||21||15||6||.714||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|1993–94||20||15||5||.750||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|1994–95||18||13||5||.722||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|1995–96||19||11||8||.579||Lost in 3rd place game|
|Benetton||1997–98||23||17||6||.739||Won in 3rd place game|
|1999–00||23||19||4||.826||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|2000–01||24||18||6||.750||Lost in the final game|
|2001–02||22||19||3||.864||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|2002–03||20||14||6||.700||Eliminated in Top 16 stage|
|2003–04||20||9||11||.450||Eliminated in Top 16 stage|
|2004–05||25||15||10||.600||Won in 3rd place game|
|2005–06||23||16||7||.696||Lost in Quarterfinal Playoffs|
|2006–07||24||20||4||.833||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|2007–08||20||15||5||.750||Eliminated in Top 16 stage|
|2008–09||22||17||5||.773||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|2009–10||16||10||6||.625||Eliminated in Top 16 stage|
|2010–11||22||16||6||.727||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|2011–12||23||14||9||.609||Lost in 3rd place game|
|Fenerbahçe||2013–14||24||14||10||.583||Eliminated in Top 16 stage|
|2014–15||29||22||7||.759||Lost in 3rd place game|
|2015–16||29||23||6||.793||Lost in the final game|
|2016–17||35||23||12||.657||Won EuroLeague Championship|
|2017–18||36||25||11||.694||Lost in the final game|
|2018–19||32||25||7||.781||Lost in 3rd place game|
- FIBA Korać Cup champion: 1
- Yugoslav League champion: 1
- Yugoslav Cup winner: 1
- EuroLeague 3rd place
- Yugoslavia National Team:
- 1988 Summer Olympic Games: Silver
- 1990 FIBA World Championship: Gold
- European Cups (11×):
- EuroLeague champion: 9
- FIBA Saporta Cup winner: 2
- National Championships (16×):
- Greek League champion: 11
- Turkish League champion: 4 (with Fenerbahçe: 2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18)
- Yugoslav League: 1
- National Cups (11×):
- Greek Cup winner: 7
- Turkish Cup winner: 3
- Yugoslav Cup winner: 1
- National Super Cups (4×):
- Turkish Super Cup winner: 3
- Italian Super Cup winner: 1
- EuroLeague Final Four without winning (9×):
- 2nd place: 3 (
- 3rd place: 2
- 4th place: 4
Titles by club
- Partizan (1991–1993)
- EuroLeague Champion: (1992)
- Yugoslav League Champion: (1992)
- Yugoslav Cup Winner: (1992)
- Joventut Badalona (1993–1994)
- EuroLeague Champion: (1994)
- Real Madrid (1994–1997)
- EuroLeague Champion: (1995)
- Saporta Cup Champion: (1997)
- Benetton Treviso (1997–1999)
- Saporta Cup Champion: (1999)
- Italian Super Cup: Winner (1997)
- Panathinaikos (1999–2012)
- 5× EuroLeague Champion: (2000, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011)
- 11× Greek League Champion: (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11)
- 7× Greek Cup Winner: (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012)
- Fenerbahçe (2013–present)
- EuroLeague Champion: (2017)
- 4× Turkish League Champion: (2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18)
- 3× Turkish Cup Winner: (2016, 2019, 2020)
- 3× Turkish Super Cup Winner: (2013, 2016, 2017)
- FR Yugoslavia/Serbia and Montenegro National Team (1995–2000, 2004–2005)
- Assistant coach
- EuroBasket 1995: Gold
- Head coach
- 1996 Summer Olympics: Silver
- EuroBasket 1997: Gold
- 1998 FIBA World Championship: Gold
- EuroBasket 1999: Bronze