Center Vlade Divac started his career with the Lakers and also ended it there but missed out on the championships they won. He also got close to the NBA Finals with Sacramento.
Divac was known to NBA teams due to his play in Europe and winning a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics.
Several teams were interested in drafting him in 1989 but it was considered a risky move to take international players in the first round at that time. The L.A. Lakers had pick 26 in the first round and decided to grab Divac. It was a draft steal for them.
When Divac started playing in the NBA he immediately showed his skills. He had a good field goal percentage and could rebound, block shots and pass the ball. He was named to the All-Rookie first team. In the playoffs during his rookie season he shot an amazing 72.7% from the field.
In his rookie year, Divac played all 82 games. For his second season in the NBA, Divac again played all 82 games and started in 81 of them. With Divac at center the Lakers made a long playoff run that year.
1994-95 was his best year with the Lakers. Playing 35.1 minutes, Divac shot 50.7% from the field and 77.7% from the free throw line for 16 points per game. Always a great passer of the ball, Divac averaged 4.1 assists per game from the center position. He had 2.2 blocks and 1.4 steals on the defensive end of the court.
In 1996, the Lakers and Kobe Bryant had a plan to get him to the Los Angeles Lakers via the draft. Behind the scenes plans had Bryant avoiding other teams so he could be a Laker. The teams with high picks didn’t take Bryant as they thought he would not play for them so Charlotte then drafted him for the Lakers, and in return they got Vlade Divac.
He played two solid seasons with the Hornets, averaging close to a double-double. When Divac’s contract ended he wanted to go back to the west coast. For the 1999 season he signed with the Sacramento Kings.
It was an exciting team that Sacramento were building then. Divac at center, Chris Webber at power forward, Jason Williams at point guard and a young Peja Stojakovic on the bench. More stars would be added, and Mike Bibby would be brought in to play the point, in future years. In 2002, Divac and the Kings were only one win away, or even a couple of shots or fouls away, from a trip to the NBA Finals.
Vlade Divac went to the All-Star game in 2001. Divac only played 9 minutes but managed to get 6 shots up, hitting 4. He finished the game with 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
The Kings didn’t win it all but Divac was hoping he could still win a championship so he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in June of 2004. He only played 15 games. It wasn’t the right time for the Lakers to be winning as it was after Shaquille O’Neal and also before the arrival of Pau Gasol.