The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame uploaded several induction speaches to its YouTube page today. One that was uploaded was the induction of the late Kresimir Cosic, one of BYU's all-time greats and one of the most influential figures in the history of basketball in Europe. Cosic was enshirned to the Hall of Fame as part of the class of 1996.
His wife Ljerka accepted the nomination and induction and gives a touching account of his life. The video is eight minutes long.
For those that prefer to read instead of watching, here are some highlights. Ljerka discussed Kresimir's great basketball career and his greatness as a man. She mentioned how he was a a caring husband and father and talked about his courage to live as a man of God and a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the communist era in eastern Europe.
"Kreso wasn't just a great basketball player and coach. He was also a man of God, a believer and a patriot. A wonderful husband and a kind father."
"In the communist era he had the courage to be a believer. A Mormon, a time when worship of God was dangerous for an ordinary person, let alone for a public figure of his stature."
"Kreso's imagination set him apart. It was as if he was of another day and age, a true visionary."
Cosic was a visionary player and has been called the "first great international player to play college basketabll in the United States (Billy Packer)." He was an All-American (the first non-American to earn the distinction), All-WAC and led BYU to two WAC titles and two NCAA Regional Tournament appearances. He turned down multiple offers to play in the NBA to serve as an ambassador for the game in Europe. As a player he won three Olympic medals as a member of the Yugoslavian National Team — two silver and one gold. He then served as the coach of the Yugoslavian National Team for many years and guided the team to a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
Following coaching he served as a Croatian diplomant at the embassy in Washington, D.C. He died in 1995 of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Ljerka shared a great quote from Kresimir during the inducation that sums up the way Cosic played and the way he felt about the game of basketball:
"The thrill of the game is in pure competition, not in the competition that money buys."
Cosic is also a member of the Cougar Club Hall of Fame.
Cosic's jersey was retired by BYU on March 4, 2006.
Kyle Chilton is the director of media relations for BYU men's basketball. He can be reached at 801-422-4909, [email protected] or on Twitter @kylechilton.