SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff and Christian Stone
June 05, 1995
Just Build It, Baby
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June 05, 1995


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A Rough Ride

The CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders, 4-14 last season and chronically in the red, recently found the going less than smooth in yet another area. With its fourth-round pick in April's CFL draft, Ottawa chose former Mississippi State defensive end Derrell Robertson, who had been killed in a car accident last December.

The Rough Riders aren't entirely to blame for the blunder, as Robertson's name appeared on a list of prospective draftees distributed to all CFL teams. "The league didn't know [of Robertson's death] until we told them," says Rough Rider coach Jim Gilstrap. "And we didn't know until we couldn't find him."

A Dalmatian Sensation

It's fitting that Kresimir Cosic, the former Yugoslav basketball player and coach who died of lymphoma last week at the age of 46, spent the last two years of his life promoting the cause of a young democracy as Croatia's deputy ambassador to the U.S. On the court and off, Cosic always represented something new. At Brigham Young, where he led the Cougars to three WAC titles and two NCAA tournament berths between 1971 and '73, it's said of the school's 22,700-seat Marriott Center that "[former coach Stan] Watts built it, Marriott paid for it, and Cosic filled it." Cosic wasn't merely the first Yugoslav to have an impact on basketball Stateside; he was also the first 6'11" collegian who could pass behind his back, shoot hook shots that began around his ankles, lead a fast break and cuss out referees in Serbo-Croatian. Says former teammate Steve Kelly, "He was Magic before Magic."

Upon returning to Yugoslavia in 1973, Cosic introduced transition basketball to the Balkans and led his country to three European titles and the '80 Olympic gold medal. He would defy the establishment by going on to found the Mormon church in communist Yugoslavia and, as the newly appointed national coach in '84, dismissing every holdover from the '84 bronze medal-winning Olympic team, except another Croatian star who would die young, Drazen Petrovic. In their place he added a flock of raw adolescents he thought would someday be "NBA quality." Three of those teenagers—Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc and Dino Radja—were most recently seen in the NBA playoffs. "Young players arc like young democracies," he would say. "Every once in a while you have to change a diaper."

The Basketball Hall of Fame has at long last acquired the habit of inducting at least one non-American each year. Cosic should be enshrined next spring, in recognition of the difference he made, in the game and the world beyond.

Uncle John's Banned

Even though this week's Grateful Dead-lift in Santa Rosa, Calif., will feature live outdoor music, organizers of the AAU-sanctioned powerlifting competition don't foresee many Deadheads entering. "You must be drug free for at least 36 months," says Nancy Ford, whose husband, John, both directs the event and serves as the AAU's national drug-testing chairman. "And the winners will undergo urinalysis and/or polygraph testing."

Now that's one way to weed tainted competitors out of the field.

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