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Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder assistant Darko Rajakovic gets a long-awaited chance in the NBA

Earlier this month, he became the third straight 66ers head coach to be called up to the NBA, joining Nate Tibbets and Dale Osbourne. Rajakovic is now serving as an assistant on Thunder coach Scott Brooks’ staff.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 20, 2014
/articleid/5006174/1/pictures/1891229">Photo - Tulsa 66ers coach Darko Rajakovic. PHOTO PROVIDED BY RICH CRIMI, TULSA 66ERS
Tulsa 66ers coach Darko Rajakovic. PHOTO PROVIDED BY RICH CRIMI, TULSA 66ERS

To have had so much experience in different leagues, different countries, how has that helped shape you as a coach in terms of how you see and analyze the game?

“Definitely it helped me a lot, because the style of game is different in Serbia where I was coaching, it was different in Spain and it’s definitely different over here. So all of those experiences together are helping me to learn and see different angles of basketball. I learned one thing: there is not just one way to do something. I think that’s going to help me going forward.”

How would you classify yourself as a coach? Many coaches are either offensive coaches or specialize in defense. Do you look at yourself as one or the other, or sort of a mixture of both?

“Basketball coach. I think that this game has to be played on both ends of the floor. You need to develop players. You need to be good with Xs and Os. You need to be good with communication with players. I think it has to be the full package, and I want to develop the full package for myself.”

When you were with Tulsa for the past two years, what was that experience like for you, and how much better do you feel like you became as a coach because of that experience?

“It was a beautiful experience, and I am very thankful for the organization giving me that opportunity. Thanks to (the Thunder) organization, coaches and processes that we had in place, I think that I improved a lot as a coach, and I want to continue the same way.”

What will your role be with the Thunder as an assistant now?

“I will be an assistant coach. That means I will assist Coach Brooks (smiles).”

What will you focus on? Is there one area?

“On basketball.” (Laughs).

Is there anything specifically about the game or the players that you are charged to deal with?

“I will be helping in all areas. I will be focused a lot on development of young players on our team, and also I will have input on everything that we do offensively and defensively. I just want to help in all areas that I can help in.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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