Days after losing an iconic head coach, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul has a new boss on its bench in reigning European national champion Igor Kokoskov, who has signed with the club for three seasons. Kokoskov, 48, picks up at Fenerbahce for fellow Serbian native Zeljko Obradovic, who led Fenerbahce to historic heights for the past seven years before deciding late last month to take a one-year timeout from coaching. Kokoskov, the only European ever appointed as a head coach in the NBA, is set to make his Turkish Airlines EuroLeague debut as he grabs the reins of a team that has reached the last five Final Fours and made history as the continent's first Turkish champion in 2017.
"I am very happy and excited to join the Fenerbahce family. I'm thrilled and very thankful for this opportunity. I'm very aware of the history and tradition that this sports club has," Kokoskov said. "I'm also aware that Fenerbahce has a huge foundation of fans all over the world. We can say that this is one of the biggest sports clubs in the world. I feel obligated to the Fenerbahce fans and the people who brought me here to give them the best of my abilities, experience and knowledge to help this club keep being successful as it is."
Kokoskov arrives from Sacramento of the NBA, where he served as an assistant last season. Kokoskov has been part of NBA coaching staffs since 2000, when he joined the Los Angeles Clippers to become the league's first full-time non-American assistant. He held the same role with Detroit as that team won the 2004 NBA title, then with Phoenix, Cleveland, Orlando and Utah. In 2018, Kokoskov took over the bench in Phoenix, making him the first head coach in NBA history who was not born in North America.
Kokoskov has had outsized success, too, with European national teams. He was head coach of Georgia for seven years, starting in 2008, and led the team to its first three EuroBasket appearances. Kokoskov made history in 2017, leading the Slovenian national team to the gold medal at the 2017 EuroBasket, a first for that country. He currently serves as the national team head coach for his native Serbia.