Dino Radja was a 6’11”, somewhat sallow-colored offensive-minded front court player for the Boston Celtics in the early-to-mid 90s. His time with the Celtics was spent shedding defenders with his patented baseline spin move and deftly scoring in and around the hoop (he maxed out at ~20 and 10 in 1996) while assimilating into the Celtics culture by wearing bulky, bulging, inky black sneakers just as Bird, McHale, and Parrish had done before him. The black shoes these Celtics wore brought to mind something weighty like an anvil or some industrial-era workman’s footwear – not basketball shoes. Radja was also a member of the 1992 Croatian Olympic team; a group that featured Toni Kukoc, Drazen Petrovic and Zan Tabak and in another time and place, may have won gold. There’s certainly more to Radja’s story, but alas the NBA chapter is short as he appeared in just four seasons and played an average of 56 games/year. His tenure in the league, and more specifically the Celtics and then-coach Rick Pitino, ended disappointingly:
I went to Pitino and asked him if I fit into his plans. With a new coach, I obviously wanted to know what he thought of my game. I loved playing for Boston and just wanted to find out if there was any possibility I might be traded, because I had heard some rumors. Pitino looked me right in the eyes and said, ‘Dino, don’t worry. You’re going to be a big part of our offense. When we run a set play, the ball is going to go through you.’ I left the meeting feeling great. Five days later, I found out I was being traded to Philadelphia. I can’t tell you how much I felt betrayed. Either Pitino lied or something changed in a matter of a few days.