(drawing by Josh Frankel)
That’s amongst the question posed by Ailene Voisin, pestering former Kings/Lakers C Vlade Divac by telephone in today’s Sacramento Bee.
Politics? You swore you wouldn’t touch the stuff. What is your official title, and what are your duties?
I’m vice (or deputy) prime minister in charge of sports and humanitarian interests, and for Serbs living abroad. I have an office in Belgrade in the government building. But I also founded the Humanitarian Organization Divac (HOD). We are trying to solve the refugee problem (and partnering with the Serbian government and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). We have almost 7,000 refugees living in the camps, more than in any other country in Europe. We buy empty houses in villages and cities, and find refugees to live in them. We interview them. The whole thing. We have placed 50 families. We want to find houses for another 400.
Is the political and economic climate in Serbia improving? What about the infrastructure? When I was in Belgrade before the 2004 Athens Olympics, the buildings that were bombed in the U.S. air assault in 1999 were still in disrepair.
The majority of them are fixed. One of them is still ruined, but somebody bought that land and is going to build a hotel. It’s slow, but the people are resilient.
What about rumors that you are considering running for the presidency of Serbia? Your good friend Peja Stojakovic, by the way, believes it’s inevitable.
(Laughs.) Maybe in the future. Not right now. Boris Tadic is starting his second term, and he is leading the country in a positive direction. Right now the only campaign I am running is for presidency of the Serbian Olympic Committee. I was named as a candidate, and I think I will be approved on Feb. 24. I hope.
What is your campaign platform?
Serbia is a basketball country, and then soccer. Lately we are having a lot of success in swimming and tennis. Next year also, Belgrade gets an ATP tournament. But we have to build new stadiums, arenas, tennis courts. After the war, everything was destroyed.
What has struck you about the Kings, other than their attendance problems? Entering the weekend, they ranked 29th and haven’t had a single sellout.
I am very, very surprised at attendance. You can tell me any other city but Sacramento. I go back to my time, all that emotion. You couldn’t find a ticket. Now you are telling me there were 10,000 people at a game the other night? I’m sure the economy has something to do with it. But also ¦ I hope they (management) turn things around. I hope when I come there, I can see it. Arco Arena. The thunder. It has to come back.