Among the 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four’s many attractions is the return of a legend who has dominated the event like no one else. Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul head coach Zeljko Obradovic is already the winningest coach in Euroleague history, with eight continental crowns, twice as many as any other of the greatest coaches since the trophy was inaugurated in 1958. Since the Final Four came to be 30 years later, in 1988, his 15 appearances in that event – including one as a player, with Partizan Belgrade – are also a record. Obradovic is the only coach to have led four different clubs to the title and is the first to place six different ones in the Final Four. Also amazing is the fact that each of Obradovic's teams reached the Final Four in either his first or second season on its bench.
As a player, Obradovic was a standout point guard who won a World Championship gold and an Olympics silver medal with the Yugoslav national team. However, at the age of 31 he turned in his uniform for a whistle, a suit and a tie to become Partizan's head coach. In his first season, Obradovic guided that underdog Partizan team, against all odds, to a dramatic Euroleague triumph, his and the club's first. Since then, Obradovic has sown success at every stop of his career in four more countries. He proceeded to lift the Euroleague trophy with Joventut Badalona in 1994 and Real Madrid in 1995. Then, in 13 seasons with Panathinaikos Athens, he won the Euroleague five more times – in 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011 – giving that club the Final Four-era record for titles. He also won the Saporta Cup twice, in 1997 with Real Madrid and in 1999 with Benetton Treviso, and was twice named Euroleague Basketball Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year. In 2008, Obradovic was honored in Madrid among the 50 greatest legends from the first half-century of European club competitions.
Given his history, it should come as no surprise that in Obradovic’s second season on the Fenerbahce sidelines, he has the team in the Final Four and targeting the club’s first Euroleague championship. It is a tribute to his leadership that two other head coaches at the Final Four have learned from Obradovic: Pablo Laso of Real Madrid played two seasons and won the Euroleague under Obradovic, while CSKA Moscow head coach Dimitris Itoudis was his assistant for 13 seasons at Panathinaikos. Madrid won the last of its record eight European club titles with Obradovic as boss in 1995, and now he is taking Fenerbahce to its first Final Four. The record is clear: where Zeljko Obradovic goes, success is sure to follow.