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George Zidek, Czech Republic
the Prague Post: Zidek did not envision an NBA career when he departed
for the United States in 1991. The son of former Czechoslovak national team star
Jiri Zidek Sr., he had played basketball from his childhood and was a member of
the Sparta Praha squad (which his father now coaches). Enrolled at UCLA, he
said, he aimed to take a shot at the team but expected to focus mainly on his
"There was a strong accent on academic education in our family, so I was determined to split my time between studying and playing basketball," he said. "Playing in the NBA was beyond my wildest dreams. In fact, I hoped to make some appearances in the college team lineup."
Zidek became the team's starting center and one of its stars. In the spring of 1995, UCLA won the NCAA Division I tournament, the biggest prize in college basketball. Zidek called it the greatest moment in his career.
"That win brought about a pure outburst of joy," Zidek said. "It is incomparable with the victory in the Euroleague with Zalgiris, because the Euroleague is a professional competition while college basketball was purely amateur."
...For Czech basketball, Nov. 3, 1995, was a historic night. For Jiri Zidek, it was a baptism by fire.
Making his first appearance -- and the first appearance by a Czech player -- in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the pinnacle of hoop competition, the 213-centimeter (7 foot, 1 inch) Charlotte Hornets rookie faced off against Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman, known for his flamboyant lifestyle, rebounding prowess and rough game.
"I can still well remember that game. It was a life experience," Zidek recalled in a recent interview. He played 33 minutes and "clashed mostly with Rodman. It was a great lesson. ... I also realized that Rodman did not hesitate to employ some foul play when needed."
Name: Jirí Zidek, Jr
Born: August 02, 1973
Origin: Zlin, Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia)
Schools: Arabska Secondary (Arabska, Czech Republic), UCLA
Drafted: 1995, First Round, 22nd pick overall by the Charlotte Hornets
Languages: Czech, English
Teams (jersey): Sparta Prague, UCLA, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Seattle Supersonics, Žalgiris Kaunas, Real Madrid, ALBA Berlin, Prokom Trefl Sopot, BK Nymburk
|George Zidek Links From our forum: Articles and other resources: Czech Basketball's First Family, Tall Order (Prague Post)|