|When he went to Tel Aviv as a visitor last week with Olympiacos, all-everything center Nikola Vujcic would have been forgiven if he had walked in the wrong locker room. After six years with Maccabi that included two Euroleague titles and several all-Euroleague citations, Vujcic left Tel Aviv last summer an icon, as the Fan Mail he received in the last week made clear. What his answers made clear, too, was that Vujcic drops names from the very echelons of modern European basketball - whether he's talking about toughest opponents, favorite teammates or mentors from whom he learned - just as easily as he attracts loyal, life-long fans. And Vujcic has certainly become one of the best ever from watching, being teammates with and playing against the best ever. "Although it was only for a short time, the toughest player I went against I'd have to say was Sabonis," Vujcic says in one answer. "Besides the fact that he was 220 centimeters and 150 kilos, he had unbelievable skills. Even at the later age when I played against him, he was still unbelievable. For me, it was a great, great experience."
Hi, Niko. First of all, happy new year and my best wishes for trophies for our team in 2009. I want to ask you if you ever consider becoming a coach once you hang up your boots?
Antonis - Maroussi, Athens
"For sure, coaching is one of the options after my career, but I hope the end of my career is still far away. When it gets closer to the end of my career, I'll consider this idea more."
Hi Nikola! I am big fan of you ,and I am crazy about Maccabi. My question is: Do you miss Israel and the club here? And will you be back someday? Thank you for all of your years here. Goodbye and good luck,
Or Gulkin - Israel
"Of course, after six wonderful years, I miss my friends, my colleagues and people at the club. We became family in some way. As for whether I can come back, I don't know. You never know what can happen in our business, but for another two years at least, I am part of Olympiacos."
Hi Nikola. I'm curious to know if your passing ability has always been very important to your game or if at the beginning of your career you were a more scoring-minded player, considering the fact you weren't surrounded by so many great scorers as you were at Maccabi and are at Olympiacos. Good luck for the new year!
Nicolò - Barzanò, Italy "
Passing was always an important part of my game. I always consider basketball a team game. For me, it's a philosophy: it doesn't matter who scores as much as that the team scores. Passing is a show of respect to the team, also. When I have a chance to pass, I pass. Also, when I was young, Toni Kukoc once said: 'A basket makes one guy happy, an assist makes two guys happy'. That's the right philosophy, I think."
Niko, you've had long, prosperous career. In doing so, you had the opportunity to play with many great players. I'm just wondering who in your opinion was the best player you ever played with? Why?
Drew K. - Israel
"There are so many great players, but for sure it has to be Anthony Parker. For me, he was the most complete player who I played with. He was capable of doing everything in a game. He could play all positions, had scoring capability, passing capability and was a great, great team player, not selfish at all."
Hi Nikola. I just wanted to thank you for your great years with Maccabi, and to wish you all the best in the new 2009 year! How is your health. Do you feel 100 percent now, just like you did in your best years, dominating Europe? Best regards,
Igal - Israel
"Physical-wise, I think that this year I am maybe in the best shape ever. Last year, I had the injuries, but they were small things that took me out of the team, but didn't hurt my body long-term. And because of those injuries, I spent all summer practicing and improving my muscles. So, physically, I think that I have never been in better shape."
Hey Nikola! If you have to choose one match to call the best you took part in, which match would it be? Thank you for the best of matches and unforgettable moments as a Maccabi fan,
Asf Aharoni - Israel
"During my career, the most important one for sure was against Zalgiris on the last day of the Top 16 in 2004. That game, which as everyone knows we won in overtime after it looked lost, got us to the Final Four in Tel Aviv and my first Euroleague title with Maccabi."
Niko, When giving out assists, was there one player you liked to pass to the most? Best regards,
Ivica - Pula, Croatia
"I haven't thought so much about any individual players, because I like to pass to all of my teammates. I guess I'd have to say that the one I had most confidence to pass the ball was Maceo Baston. After all, he usually dunked any pass he got."
Who was the toughest player you ever had to go against? Cheers,
Andrew Sproul - Glasgow, Scotland
"Although it was only for a short time, the toughest player I went against I'd have to say was Sabonis. He was very hard to go against. Besides the fact that he was 220 centimeters and 150 kilos, he had unbelievable skills. Even at the later age when I played against him, he was still unbelievable. For me, it was a great, great experience to play against him and see from such a close perspective how he did such things."