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Peja Stojakovic, Serbia
Wikipedia.com: Stojaković was born
in Slavonska Požega, Yugoslavia, but his family fled Croatia during the Yugoslav
wars to Belgrade, Serbia. In 1993, at age 16, he moved to Greece in order to be
able to play professional basketball, and settled in PAOK Thessaloniki where he
spent four seasons. Stojaković also acquired Greek citizenship in 1993.
The 6 ft 9 in (2.06 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 season.
After two seasons on the bench in Sacramento, he had a breakthrough season in 2000-01, averaging 20.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and shooting .400 from three-point range in his first season as a starter. He finished second in voting for the NBA 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 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.
Name: Predrag Stojakovic (PRAY-drog STOY-ak-O-vich)
Nickname: Peja (USA) Pedja (YUG) Tightjeans (USA)
Born: June 09, 1977
Origin: Belgrade, Serbia
Drafted: 1996, First Round, 14th pick by the Sacramento Kings
Languages: Serbian, English
Website: Peja Stojakovic Universe & InterBasket
Teams Serbia National Team (8), PAOK (8), Sacramento Kings (16), Indiana Pacers (16), IBN Dream Team (First Team)
Ibn Notes: A native of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Predrag "Peja" Stojakovic played professionally for three seasons in Greece before signing with the Sacramento Kings on June 15, 1998. The 6-9 forward was Sacramento's first-round draft choice at the age of 19 in 1996, the 14th overall selection, but he continued to play in Europe until joining the Kings for the 1998-99 season. His sweet stroke from the perimeter has helped establish the Kings as a Western Conference power and he was recognized prior to the 2002-03 season by the league's general managers as the third-best international player in the NBA. Pedja ecame a Greek citizen in 1993 because teams from his native Yugoslavia were not permitted to play in the European Cup. Co-hosted a Christmas Toy Drive with Vlade Divac which resulted in the shipping of 10,000 toys to Serbia. Filmed a commercial in his native Serbian an Greek languages for the NBA last season, speaking out against violence and warning children of the dangers of smoking. Son of Miodrag and Branka Stojakovic. Enjoys listening to music and watching movies. Stojakovic played three seasons with PAOK in the Greek Professional League, averaging 20.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 73 regular-season games and shooting .395 in three-pointers...The league's MVP in 1997-98, averaging 23.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.20 steals in 24 games, shooting .462 from the field, .406 on three-pointers and .891 on free throws...Averaged 18.2 ppg in the 1998 Greek Championship Series, where PAOK lost to Panathinaikos in five games...One of his opponents was former NBA guard Byron Scott, who soon after took a job as an assistant coach with Sacramento.
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