TB EXCLUSIVE | Nikola Kalinić: Before Obradović, I was treating basketball as a hobby. It’s a job now.”
You made your point. I’m not going to ask you another question about referees. 🙂 In an interview last year, you urged fans not to scream when they see you, told them they can just come talk to you. Has it changed?
There are always some exceptions but yes. Maybe after the EuroLeague
Final Four, they were over-excited. But like I told you, apart from
basketball, I’m a pretty calm person. I find basketball as an exhaust
for all my nervousness. I’m a different person on the basketball court.
Off the court, I’m much calmer than [I am] on
the basketball court. And that’s why I don’t like when somebody is
yelling. Normally, if you come to me, say ‘Hey, how are you?’ and ‘Can
we take a picture?’, I will always do that. If you’re yelling or if you
are taking your phone up to try to picture me while I’m not looking,
that’s what I don’t like and I will react. That didn’t happen many
times. If anybody comes nicely to me, %99 of the time, I’ll try to do
the best for the fans.
Fans will get the message, again.
They’re better and better but it’s just about the way you’re talking. I can hear you after 27 years and I can still hear pretty well. There is no need to yell.
Along with all the experiences you garnered as a pro athlete, you also have an advantage most guys don’t have: All the family members have played professional sports at one point in their lives. What did growing up in this type of family bring you?
probably brought some competitiveness, I would say. With my brother, it
was always about who will win at one-on-one basketball because he was
older than me. At every game; card games, dice games, darts and
whatever, we were playing and always competing, trying to win like it
was the last game we play. I think that’s the biggest difference and you
have some people who understands what you’re doing and all your
problems. They can give you some advice and it helps you a lot.
Are you guys still competing with each other on who’s the greatest athlete in the family? Like, you’d score 20 points in some game and your father would say ‘I did better at table tennis.’
course. My father is always saying that basketball is a stupid sport.
‘You fake left and go right’, he says. He’s kidding but there is always a
competition and I like that. We are now too specialized. My brother is a
professional water polo player and I can’t compete with him anymore in
swimming or anything like that. I’m a professional basketball player and
he can’t compete with me – he can try – anymore in basketball. We play
some independent third sports now; volleyball, for example.
Do you have an idol outside of your family?
many. I think my brother is one of the guys who I most looked up to
because he was always there for me and was always putting me in the
right direction. Like every kid, I was watching Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojaković, Milan Gurović but I’ve never had some crazy idols or somebody who I was totally looking up to.