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Predrag_Stojaković

Predrag Stojaković

Predrag "Peja" Stojaković (Serbian Cyrillic: Предраг Стојаковић - Пеђа) (born June 9, 1977) is a Serbian basketball player for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets. He was one of the league's top small forwards, but trades and injuries have seen a reduction in his productivity. Stojaković is one of the most successful basketball players ever to come out of the former Yugoslavia.

Professional career

Early years

Stojakovic was born to Serbian parents in Slavonska Požega, SR Croatia, Yugoslavia but his family fled to Belgrade during the Yugoslav wars. Stojaković also holds Serbian-Greek dual citizenship. In his Greek passport his family name is Kinis.

Peja, as he was called during his time in PAOK BC, scored a memorable last-second three-pointer against Olympiacos in Piraeus in the Greek play-off semi finals series, virtually winning the match 58-55 for PAOK. That victory, which ended the five year reign of Olympiacos as Greek Champions, allowed PAOK to face Panathinaikos in the finals series, although the club had a disadvantage in home games and ultimately lost the series (and the league) 3-2. Stojakovic was closely guarded throughout the series by his current coach in New Orleans, Byron Scott, who was wrapping his basketball career as the top player for Panathinaikos, and did not play at his normal level.

In his final season with PAOK, Stojakovic was named league Most Valuable Player, averaging 23.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals.

Sacramento Kings

The 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) Stojaković was selected by the Kings in the first round (14th overall pick) of the 1996 NBA Draft while playing in Greece. He continued to play there until the Kings signed him prior to the 1998-99 NBA lockout season. After two seasons on the bench with Sacramento, he had a breakthrough season in 2000-01, averaging 20.4 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting .400 from three-point range in his first season as a starter. He finished second in voting for the 2001 Most Improved Player Award.

In 2001-02, he played in the NBA All-Star Game for the first time. His scoring average went up to 21.2 ppg, and he reached career highs in shooting percentage (.484) and three-point percentage (.416). His scoring average dropped slightly to 19.2 ppg in 2002-03, but he played again in the All-Star Game. In both seasons, he won the three-point shooting contest conducted during All-Star Weekend.

In 2003-04, Stojaković was again selected as an All-Star, and finished second in the league in scoring with a career-high 24.2 ppg. He finished fourth in MVP voting and was voted on to the All-NBA 2nd Team. He also led the NBA in free-throw percentage (.927) and three-pointers made for the season (240). In 2004-05, he missed 16 games to injury, and was somewhat hampered in several games, but still averaged 20.1 ppg.

Indiana Pacers

On January 25, 2006, Stojaković was traded to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for forward Ron Artest, ending his eight-year tenure with the Kings. However, he missed four games of their first round playoff series with the New Jersey Nets, all losses.

New Orleans Hornets

During the 2006 offseason, he re-signed with the Pacers, only to be traded to the Hornets for the draft rights to Andrew Betts. On November 14, 2006, Stojakovic scored a career-high 42 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, and became the first player in NBA history to open the game with 20 straight points for his team. He was soon sidelined for several months by injuries, including back surgery, as a result missing most of the 2006-07 season.

International career

As a member of the Yugoslavian national team, he earned gold medals at the 2001 European Championships (Eurobasket), held in Turkey, and the 2002 FIBA World Championships, held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Stojaković was the MVP of Eurobasket 2001, and was a member of the all-tournament team in Indianapolis in 2002, along with fellow NBA stars Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, and Yao Ming, as well as New Zealand's Pero Cameron. Stojaković has also participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Serbian salute controversy

During his tenure with the Sacramento Kings, both Stojaković and teammate Vlade Divac gained attention in the local section of newsreview.com for their use of a Serbian three-fingered salute as a way to celebrate on-court success. The sign is associated with the Serbian Orthodox Christian Church. Divac defended its use by the pair, saying "it means three points," and "Europeans count with different fingers than Americans."

NBA career statistics

Regular season

|- | align="left" | 1998–99 | align="left" | Sacramento | 48 || 1 || 21.4 || .378 || .320 || .851 || 3.0 || 1.5 || .9 || .2 || 8.4 |- | align="left" | 1999–00 | align="left" | Sacramento | 74 || 11 || 23.6 || .448 || .375 || .882 || 3.7 || 1.4 || .7 || .1 || 11.9 |- | align="left" | 2000–01 | align="left" | Sacramento | 75 || 75 || 38.7 || .470 || .400 || .856 || 5.8 || 2.2 || 1.2 || .2 || 20.4 |- | align="left" | 2001–02 | align="left" | Sacramento | 71 || 71 || 37.3 || .484 || .416 || .876 || 5.3 || 2.5 || 1.1 || .2 || 21.2 |- | align="left" | 2002–03 | align="left" | Sacramento | 72 || 72 || 34.0 || .481 || .382 || .875 || 5.5 || 2.0 || 1.0 || .1 || 19.2 |- | align="left" | 2003–04 | align="left" | Sacramento | 81 || 81 || 40.3 || .480 || .433 || .927 || 6.3 || 2.1 || 1.3 || .2 || 24.2 |- | align="left" | 2004–05 | align="left" | Sacramento | 66 || 66 || 38.4 || .444 || .402 || .920 || 4.3 || 2.1 || 1.2 || .2 || 20.1 |- | align="left" | 2005–06 | align="left" | Sacramento | 31 || 31 || 37.0 || .403 || .397 || .933 || 5.3 || 2.2 || .6 || .1 || 16.5 |- | align="left" | 2005–06 | align="left" | Indiana | 40 || 40 || 36.4 || .461 || .404 || .903 || 6.3 || 1.7 || .6 || .2 || 19.5 |- | align="left" | 2006–07 | align="left" | New Orleans | 13 || 13 || 32.7 || .423 || .405 || .816 || 4.2 || .8 || .6 || .3 || 17.8 |- | align="left" | 2007–08 | align="left" | New Orleans | 77 || 77 || 35.2 || .440 || .441 || .929 || 4.3 || 1.2 || .7 || .1 || 16.4 |- | align="left" | Career | align="left" | | 648 || 538 || 34.4 || .458 || .405 || .894 || 5.0 || 1.9 || 1.0 || .1 || 18.2 |- | align="left" | All-Star | align="left" | | 3 || 0 || 14.3 || .364 || .385 || .000 || 2.0 || 1.0 || .3 || .0 || 7.0 |}

Playoffs

|- | align="left" | 1998–99 | align="left" | Sacramento | 5 || 0 || 21.6 || .346 || .214 || 1.000 || 3.8 || .4 || .6 || .0 || 4.8 |- | align="left" | 1999–00 | align="left" | Sacramento | 5 || 0 || 25.8 || .400 || .462 || .667 || 3.4 || .6 || .8 || .0 || 8.8 |- | align="left" | 2000–01 | align="left" | Sacramento | 8 || 8 || 38.4 || .406 || .346 || .968 || 6.4 || .4 || .6 || .4 || 21.6 |- | align="left" | 2001–02 | align="left" | Sacramento | 10 || 7 || 33.8 || .376 || .271 || .897 || 6.3 || 1.0 || .5 || .0 || 14.8 |- | align="left" | 2002–03 | align="left" | Sacramento | 12 || 12 || 40.5 || .480 || .457 || .850 || 6.9 || 2.5 || .8 || .4 || 23.1 |- | align="left" | 2003–04 | align="left" | Sacramento | 12 || 12 || 43.1 || .384 || .315 || .897 || 7.0 || 1.5 || 1.8 || .2 || 17.5 |- | align="left" | 2004–05 | align="left" | Sacramento | 5 || 5 || 40.6 || .470 || .367 || .955 || 5.2 || 1.4 || .8 || .2 || 22.0 |- | align="left" | 2005–06 | align="left" | Indiana | 2 || 2 || 25.5 || .444 || .000 || .857 || 4.5 || 2.0 || .5 || .5 || 11.0 |- | align="left" | 2007–08 | align="left" | New Orleans | 12 || 12 || 37.9 || .436 || .549 || .926 || 5.4 || .5 || .5 || .1 || 14.1 |- | align="left" | Career | align="left" | | 71 || 58 || 36.5 || .421 || .381 || .903 || 5.9 || 1.2 || .9 || .2 || 16.6 |}

Awards and achievements

*Second Team: 2004

  • 3-time NBA All-Star: 2002, 2003, 2004
  • NBA Three-point Shootout Champion: 2002, 2003
  • NBA All-Star 2Ball Champion: 2001 (with Ruthie Bolton-Holifield)
  • 4th in NBA history in free-throw percentage at .894
  • 6th in NBA playoff history in free-throw percentage at .903
  • 8th in NBA history in 3-pointers made with 1,426
  • 16th in NBA history in 3-pointers attempted with 3,520
  • 19th in NBA history in 3-point field goal percentage at .405
  • First player in NBA history to start a game off by scoring 20 consecutive points for his team.
  • He and Steve Nash of Phoenix were the only players to rank in the top 25 in both free-throw and 3-point percentage during the '04-'05 and '05-'06 seasons.
  • Won the 2001 Euroscar, given to the best European basketball player by Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.
  • Named "Mister Europa" in 2001 and 2002 by Italian weekly magazine SuperBasket.

See also

References

External links

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