KK Crvena Zvezda
Košarkaški klub Crvena zvezda (Serbian Cyrillic: Кошаркашки клуб Црвена звезда) is a professional basketball club based in Belgrade, Serbia. Its name Crvena zvezda means Red Star and it's part of the Red Star Belgrade sports society (polideportivo).
KK Crvena Zvezda participates domestically in the Sinalco Superleague which determines which Serbian teams will compete in the Euroleague and which will compete in the Eurocup. Red Star also domestically competes in Serbia's domestic cup tournament, the Radivoj Korać Cup, which is named after a legendary player. KK Crvena zvezda is a part of the Adriatic Basketball Association and competes in the NLB League.
KK Crvena zvezda plays all home matches in the Pionir Hall, built in 1973, with a capacity of 7,000 seats. Zvezda's main rival, KK Partizan is this arena's other tenant.
Crvena zvezda's fans are known as Delije.
When the subject of great teams in the cradle of European basketball arises, the name of Red Star Belgrade is always a part of the discussion. As one of the most-crowned teams in the former Yugoslavia, Red Star has always commanded attention wherever it plays.
Early years and ten consecutive championship titles (40s and 50s)
By winning the first of ten consecutive championship titles after the Second World War, the golden age of Red Star began. No domestic national selection could be imagined without seven or eight Red Star basketball players and the first quintet featured Nebojša Popović, Tulio Roklicer, Aleksandar Gec, Ladislav Demšar and[Srđa Kalember. Their style was unique, they made basketball popular in Serbia and achieved first international results for former Yugoslavia, playing in an open-air court at Kalemegdan fortress Upper Town. The greatness of this team cannot be disputed. They were pioneers of Yugoslavian basketball who achieved amazing results, entertaining the audience with their game style, just as with their squad harmony both on and off the court. After a decade filled with nothing but success, game scores started to decline, generation shift arrived and it took Red Star fourteen long years to win another trophy.
A giant reborn (late 60s and 70s)
That long awaited eleventh title was won in the 1968/69 season, when Red Star won all six games against Jugoplastika, Zadar and Partizan, therefore proving to be better than all three fierce rivals. Led by Vladimir Cvetković, the title was won by Dragan Kapičić, Zoran Lazarević, Ivan Sarjanović, Duci Simonović, Srđan Skulić, Moka Slavnić, Tihomir Pavlović, Nemanja Đurić, Miroslav Todosijević, Dragisa Vučinić and Dubravko Kapetanović. At that time, they were the youngest championship winning team in Yugoslavian basketball.
The twelfth title was won in the 1971/72 season, after which Zvezda's league success deteriorated gradually. In the 70s the club won the national cup three times, and most of the work in those years was done by Slavnić, Simonović, Kapičić, Vučinić and Živković. This generation of players definitely failed to certify their talent by winning only two national championships and three national cups, although they were widely considered capable of achieving much more.
Continental competitions (70s and 80s)
Red Star also had significant international success, having played in five continental cup finals so far.
Zvezda lost the first Cup Winners' Cup finals to Italian Olimpia Simental in 1972 by a score of 70:74. Then, in 1974, they defeated Zbrojevka from Czechoslovakia by a score of 86:75. This team's third finals in the Cup Winners' Cup were lost to Spartak Leningrad by a score of 62:63 in 1975. In the club's first Korać Cup finals, in Paris in 1984, French Élan won by a 73:97 score. In the Korać Cup second finals in 1998 Zvezda played two matches with Mash Verona from Italy. They triumphed in the away match with 73:97 score, but lost the home match by 64:73. With the total score being 138:141, the precious trophy wasn't won.
Another comeback (90s)
The thirteenth championship title was won after no less than 21 years, in 1993. In the fifth match of the playoff finals Zvezda beat fierce rivals and co-tenants Partizan. The players who won that championship title are: Saša Obradović, Nebojša Ilić, Zoran Jovanović, Mile Marinković, Nikola Jovanović, Mileta Lisica, Dejan Tomašević, Ljuba Vidačič, Aleksandar Trifunović, Rastko Cvetković, Slobodan Kaličanin, Peja Stojaković (then only a youngster) and Srđan Jovanović. In the next season Red Star won its fourteenth national championship title literally without any problems. In the playoff finals Partizan was beaten by 4:1 overall.
Zvezda won the championship for the fifteenth time in 1998. In those playoff finals Red Star beat FMP Železnik by an overall score of 3:1. The main star of that team was without any doubt Yugoslavian national team power forward Milenko Topić.
Last ten years (2000s)
In the early part of 2002, the club got a complete new management. Individuals from the political and business milieu close to ruling Democratic Party, such as Živorad Anđelković (nicknamed Žika Pauk), Goran Vesić, and Igor Žeželj, took over key positions in the club. From summer 2002 onwards, the project called evropska Zvezda (European Red Star) was thought up in order to slowly and methodically return the club on the path of its former glory. To that end, the club hired Slovenian coach Zmago Sagadin who became the organizational centerpiece at the club. In his first season Sagadin did not actually coach the team (that role was given to Aleksandar Trifunović), but he did make all the important personnel decisions in the role of a sport director. Under Sagadin's guidance Red Star entered Adriatic League at the beginning od 2002/03 season. In August 2003, ahead of the 2003/04 season, Sagadin took over the coaching duties formally as well. Despite all the efforts, the club did not manage to win any major trophies in this period, and in November 2004 Sagadin got fired.
Due to its management's constant reminders that they're building for the next season - in this period, the club earned a derisive nickname KK Sledeća sezona (Next Season Basketball Club) amongst rival KK Partizan fans.
In the last couple of years the club is struggling to get back on a winning streak, and managed to win the 2003 and 2006 national cup (Radivoj Korać Cup) finals. The first of them was held in Novi Sad, where Zvezda beat the national champion Partizan, then the host Vojvodina and, finally, Refleks from Železnik. All three matches were won in overtime, which is something to remember, especially when it is known that those matches were played without some of the best players, including the team captain Igor Rakočević who missed the final match. Besides Rakočević, the cup was won by Jeretin, Radivojević, Dozet, Mirković, Richardson, Bjelica, Đurić, Dragojlović, Bogdanović, Vitkovac and Nešović. The 2006 cup was won in Belgrade when Zvezda won superiorly against Hemofarm by 80:65. The team was coached by Dragan Šakota and featured the likes of Jeretin, Gurović, Henderson, Raičević, O'Bannon, Milošević, Subotić, Mišanović, Dragojlović, Vitkovac, Radivojević and Pero Antić.