Kresimir Cosic

The late Croatian basketball superstar Kresimir Cosic became only the third international player ever elected to the world's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball.

Cosic, who passed away on May 25, 1995, after a year-long battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, was born in 1948 in Zagreb, Croatia. He spent his early years in the city of Zadar on the Adriatic coast. The 6-foot-11 center began his illustrious athletic career in 1964, leading his local team to its first five championships within a year. From there, he led numerous Olympic Teams to win Silver (1967, 1968) and Gold (1980) Medals. Changing professional roles, he coached his team to another Silver Medal in 1988.

Kresimir Cosic

Photo from KK Zadar web page

In the United States, Cosic starred at Brigham Young University from 1970-73, leading his team to the NCAA Tournament Regionals two years in a row, setting school records for highest scorer and rebounder, being selected to the ALL-WAC First Team for three consecutive years, being named conference Most Valued Player (MVP), earning membership on the all-Decade WAC Team, and playing on three National all-Star teams. After turning down professional offers from the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and the Carolina Cougars, Kresimir returned to Croatia to play basketball. He continued to win Most Valued Player (MVP) honors in his homeland and on all-European teams.

After his glorious sports career, Cosic joined the Croatian diplomatic corps. During his service as one of Croatia's first diplomats in the United States, Kresimir brought his enthusiasm, drive and exuberant personal charm to representing his beloved Croatia in the U.S. capital. Through his charming personality and spirit he greatly contributed to the development of open and friendly relations between Croatia and America, and i93 received the prestigious Freedom Award for his contribution to advancing peace and reconciliation to all ethnic groups in Croatia. U.S. Senator Orrin G. Hatch submitted a moving tribute in the U.S. Congressional Record of May 26, 1995.

Written by Marijan Gubic
Croatian Embassy in Washington, D.C.