After creating great memories together all decade, Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv announced with deep regret on Thursday that it had to let a contract option to keep center Nikola Vujcic for another year expire when the deadline passed at the end of the Israeli League season. "We are speechless to explain how difficult it is for us to send out this announcement," the club said in a statement. "It's impossible to describe how much we love Niko and his family. Maccabi Tel Aviv sees in Nikola Vujcic one of the greatest players ever to play for the club. His greatness is reflected not only in his wonderful ability on court, but also in his behavior and exceptional personality. Nikola Vujcic is a loveable personality adored by everybody in the club. Our great gratitude is sent to Nikola for all he has done for Maccabi. We had the honor to be his friends. Maccabi Tel Aviv hopes that Nikola Vujcic and his family will stay connected to the club in the future as well."
"My six years here have been priceless," Vujcic told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday evening at Nokia Arena. "I'm proud and happy to see people that have given me so much love and respect. I’m speechless. I expected this to happen and tried to prepare my family for this, but no one prepared me for the love that people would express to me. Now we have to be realistic about the situation."
After he was presented with a framed No. 7 jersey and an engraved photo from the Maccabi management, Vujcic added: "This is not goodbye. This is for sure 'see you again.' I will find a way to come back here. It's just a matter of time."
Vujcic just completed seven seasons under contract with Maccabi, the first of those on loan, during which both club and player enjoyed unparalleled success. In the six seasons that he wore the team's trademark yellow uniform, Vujcic and Maccabi won two Euroleague titles, the first club to do so in more than a decade, and finished runners-up twice more. Vujcic was named three times to the All-Euroleague First Team and twice to comepetitions second team. In the Israeli League, he won five championship titles and four national cups. Even when he was on loan from Maccabi his first season, Vujcic found success in leading Asvel Villeurbanne to the French League title.