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Could former Piston Zeljko Rebraca be a Hall of Famer some day?

Based on his NBA career, Zeljko Rebraca certainly isn’t a Hall of Fame player. But remember, the Naismith Hall of Fame is a basketball Hall of Fame, not just a NBA Hall of Fame, and Rebraca had a pretty decorated European career before he debuted with the Pistons. Jay Aych of The Painted Area recently wrote about international players who could merit Hall of Fame consideration down the road and he mentioned Rebraca, albeit as a longshot:

Rebraca’s NBA career never got off the ground because of constant health issues (only 215 games in 5 seasons), but the big man was successful before he came stateside. During his club career Zelly netted two Euroleague titles (2000 EL Final 4 MVP), two Greek League titles (2000 Greek League MVP) and one Italian League title. Playing for Yugoslavia, he took home one Olympic silver, two Euro gold and one Worlds gold in 1998 where he was key to their title.

Rebraca’s biggest contribution to the Pistons was his use in the Rasheed Wallace trade. But he had also had a solid rookie season for the team, averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds off the bench and providing interior toughness on a team that was a surprise 50-game winner in Rick Carlisle’s first season. A heart condition robbed Rebraca of much of his second season, but he was tough and feisty, definitely a Detroit kind of player.

20 Comments

  • Jul 18, 201111:34 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    I loved how Rebraca. Like you said, he was tough and feisty. He was already 29 by his rookie NBA season, so I’m not sure much more potential he had than 7 and 4, but at minimum, he was a very useful role play, the type of guy winning teams have.

    I’ve also never seen a player get a less favorable whistle. Rookies often need to gain officials’ respect, but what Rebraca went through was ridiculous. He could look at guy wrong on defense — foul. He’d get hacked on offense — no call.

  • Jul 18, 20112:30 pm
    by Todd

    Reply

    Joe needs to find another Rebraca for this new group. Could Macklin be that guy?

  • Jul 18, 20113:29 pm
    by Murph

    Reply

    Rebraca in the NBA Hall of Fame??? 

    Um…let me think…NO.

    • Jul 18, 20113:36 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      So you’re familiar with his statistics from his long European career I take it?

      • Jul 18, 20114:11 pm
        by Murph

        Reply

        What long European career?  Rebraca came to the US at age 29, played for a few years here, then retired.

        You don’t seriously think Zelly is a HOFer do you?  Please tell me you just wrote that article because it’s a long, slow summer, and you have to fill up your websight with some kind of content.

        • Jul 18, 20114:26 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          The basketball HOF is not just NBA. Rebraca had a really good 10-year career in tough leagues in Europe pre-Pistons, then played a few more seasons overseas before retiring. They will consider his body of work, not just his NBA career, when he’s eligible in a few years. I don’t think he’ll get in (he was, after all, listed as a longshot in the article I linked to), but his career was good enough that he’ll merit at least some consideration. Names like Maciel Pareira, Hortencia de Fatima Marcari, Drazen Dalipagic, Dino Meneghin didn’t play in the NBA but are still in the Naismith Hall of Fame. Even guys like Sabonis and Petrovic, though good NBA players, got in more based on their stardom in Europe. So yeah, it’s unlikely Rebraca gets in, but it’s not ridiculous that he’ll be considered.

          • Jul 18, 20115:07 pm
            by Murph

            “I don’t think he’ll get in (he was, after all, listed as a longshot in the article I linked to).”

            So you agree with me.  So you’re basically just arguing for the sake of arguing.

          • Jul 18, 20118:52 pm
            by Sam

            Murph,

            Did you read the article?

            The lede seemed more like a starting point and less like a thesis. No one thinks he will be in the hall of fame, Hayes and Aych took careful meausures to show that. Rather, the hall was brought up (perhaps for hyperbolic purposes) to draw attention to the global career of a former piston with which we otherwise would not have been as familiar.

        • Aug 31, 20119:02 am
          by Kristen

          Reply

          I hate to say that but Rebraca was a brilliant player. I used hate him than he played for Yugoslavia  national team simply because he was very good (I’m Lithuanian). Having say that, I have so much respect for him.
          Many of legendary European basketball players didn’t do so well in NBA. One of the reasons I guess they went there late in their career. All of them had amazing career in Europe including playing for national teams. For example, Sabonis went to play for Blazers when he was 31!
          You always have to look at bigger picture.

  • Jul 18, 20114:30 pm
    by Tim

    Reply

    Zeljko was a great player to watch when he was on the pistons.  Always gave a great effort.  Does he deserve the basketball hall of fame (apparently murph has reading comprehension issues, as the article clearly states there is no NBA hall of fame)?  Probably not, but its not a ridiculous reach.  He clearly was one of the most important players in europe during his career there (see his personal and team achievements listed in the article).  But I dont think thats enough, especially since his nba transition was so limited due to his health.

  • Jul 18, 20119:35 pm
    by Murph

    Reply

    “No one thinks he will be in the hall of fame, Hayes and Aych took careful meausures to show that.”

    Right.  No one thinks Zelly will make the HOF…no one…least of all Hayes.  So why is Hayes even publishing this ridiculous article ?..(because it’s going to be a long, slow lockout)

    And then everyone argues with me, because I pointed out the obvious.  THERE IS NO WAY ZELLY IS MAKING THE HOF. 

    And I sort of liked Zelly, until he became ill.  Although, I never thought he was as good as Memo.

    • Jul 18, 201111:00 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      OK, let me clarify:

      1. Posting this had nothing to do with the lockout. I would’ve posted this any time. Someone wrote something interesting about Hall of Fame cases for foreign players, including Rebraca. Rebraca is a former Piston. A function of this blog is to point Pistons fans to interesting things written about current and former Pistons. It was newsworthy, lockout or no lockout.

      2. I will rephrase my ‘I don’t think he’ll get in’ comment. Based on his international success, he has a compelling and interesting case. Unlike Sabonis or Divac, for example, he didn’t combine that international success with several good seasons in the NBA. Plus, I don’t know much about the international scene much from the 80s and 90s. I do know that Rebraca was a key player on some of the best teams in Europe. But I don’t know if he was in the same class internationally in his prime as guys like Kukoc, Sabonis, Petroivc, etc. So if I were betting, I’d say no, he won’t get in. But the HOF international committee undoubtedly has a better understanding of that than me, you or just about any other American who never saw much of these guys play in their primes. Maybe Rebraca was better than I realize overseas and that will get him some consideration.

      3. Everyone isn’t arguing with you b/c you pointed out the obvious. They are arguing with you b/c you very clearly didn’t know that the basketball HOF is just that — a basketball HOF and not strictly a NBA HOF. Your first two comments make it clear that you didn’t know that. Rebraca’s NBA career will have very little to do with whether he gets in or not. Many guys who have never played a minute of NBA ball have got in based solely on their overseas careers and that makes your hardline “no way in hell” stance kind of ridiculous.

      • Jul 19, 20115:13 am
        by Murph

        Reply

        “They are arguing with you b/c you very clearly didn’t know that the basketball HOF is just that — a basketball HOF and not strictly a NBA HOF.”

        I did know the basketball HOF is not just for the NBA.  I miswrote.  I’ve been to the Basketball HOF.  It’s an hour from my house.  I took the kids last year.  They had a great time.  We played one on one on the HOF court.  You can even shoot at a real peach basket.  There are many women in the Basketball HOF, as well as worthy foreign players, such as Sabonis, and American players who played before the NBA existed.

        But Zelly’s never going to be in it, and the article was ridiculous in the first place.

        • Jul 19, 201112:10 pm
          by brgulker

          Reply

          Gimme a break.

          If this,

          During his club career Zelly netted two Euroleague titles (2000 EL Final 4 MVP), two Greek League titles (2000 Greek League MVP) and one Italian League title. Playing for Yugoslavia, he took home one Olympic silver, two Euro gold and one Worlds gold in 1998 where he was key to their title.

          Doesn’t merit consideration, what does? 

          No one’s saying the dude’s a shoe in, just that he did have a fabulous career before coming to the NBA (and getting hurt over and over again).

          What in the world is so unreasonable about that?

          • Jul 19, 20112:51 pm
            by Murph

            It’s not happening, but keep dreaming.

            Zelly basically never had a productive year after age 28, when he began playing in the NBA. 

          • Jul 19, 20114:24 pm
            by brgulker

            Murph, you seem pretty clueless right now. I’m not saying it should happen either way. I have no opinion on the credibility of him getting there. I’m simply observing that the dude has a resume that warrants consideration, all things considered.  You’re just being dismissive for its own sake, and I’m pretty well convinced at this point that you’re just a troll, and trolls aren’t worth feeding.

  • Jul 19, 20112:16 pm
    by bball4224

    Reply

    I just mainly remember Alonzo Mourning jacking up his eye

  • Jul 19, 20113:10 pm
    by Murph

    Reply

    “Murph, did you read the article?”

    Yes Sam, I read the article.  I even read the comment at the end of the article, which I thought was more insightful than the article itself:

    “what the heck is wrong with you and your four buddies on 5 on 5 roundtable on espn.com you are voting every foreigner in based on some “goodwill” to bball criteria that has nothing to do with how they played the game. i agree w sabonis because he dominated the game for many years before the nba came. yao has never played extremely excellent bball for at least 5 years which i consider the minimum for making the hof. ginobli has barely. parker: not quite. gasol:not yet. u guys r handing hof spots over based on some united nations criteria. europe’s interest is hear to stay, stop handing over free passes based on fiba play and goodwill. fiba only matters for sabonis because his prime did not coincide with the nba (which should b the main criteria if that was a man’s prime) you guys are treating a guy’s nba career as an afterthought”

    And if you people have a negative comment or an insult, please go to The Painted Area websight and direct it toward the guy who made the comment.  I just agree with it.

  • Jul 19, 20118:31 pm
    by Murph

    Reply

    “You’re just being dismissive for its own sake, and I’m pretty well convinced at this point that you’re just a troll, and trolls aren’t worth feeding.”

    I am not being dismissive for it’s own sake.  This is a ridiculous discussion.  ZELLY HAS NO SHOT AT THE HOF.  PERIOD.

    And you are more than welcome to NOT respond to my posts. 

  • Feb 14, 20142:37 pm
    by Andrew

    Reply

    wow murph is a turd

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