His website calls him “The Perfect 10 Model” (and even provides a recipe). He’s built like a power forward, shoots and passes like a guard, and can get off the floor when the mood strikes him. And he’s got that Miami Vice flair:
He was kicked off the Serbian national team for peeling and eating a banana while his coach yelled at him; he spent the second half in the crowd, posing for pictures and signing autographs. The new coach offered a TV or laptop to whoever could provide his phone number. He wears braids without a hint of self-consciousness, lies about his snowboarding habits to his employer, and boasts over $15 million in career earnings, with another $18 million or so on the way. He is Vladimir Radmanovic, a singular figure in the NBA.
Though I lament his departure from Seattle (for non-basketball reasons; as a GM, I would never sign him), his decision to join the Lakers has been a boon to Vladiphiles everywhere. Now he’s just a channel flip away, wearing grandpa-on-vacation knee-high black socks and poised to add a championship ring to his garish get-up. (Beware the ring as litmus test.) But most importantly, in his crusty coach, Phil Jackson, Vladi’s found his first worthy NBA foil.
Nate McMillan, a more mild-mannered member of the Scott Skiles/Avery Johnson young tough-guy school, was too no-nonsense for Vladi. Mike Dunleavy was just a quick stop on the contract-year gravy train. But Phil Jackson is as hopelessly adolescent as his new forward, if possessed of a better attention span. His Zenmaster schtick consists mainly of third-hand mystical pablum and a willingness to insult his players in the press. What better situation, then, for Vladi and the Vladiphiles?
Where once we scoured awkward translations of Serbian message boards to find the latest nugget of our dude’s apathy, it’s now front page on ESPN. Phil calls Vladi a space cadet; Vladi separates his shoulder snowboarding. Phil says Vladi should see the team psychologist; Vladi says Phil is like Jack Nicholson in Anger Management. Phil says Vladi is not playing up to his potential; Vladi says they’ll talk about it in the exit interview. And on and on it goes, Mean Girls in men’s clothes playing a child’s game.
Grab a banana, Vladi. Let’s hope that exit interview doesn’t come for a long time.