The late Dusan Ivkovic was remembered on Thursday in a manner befitting his legend and in a setting that he knew as well as anyone – a basketball game in Belgrade, Serbia, the city where he was born and passed away, at age 78, earlier in the day.
A goodbye game for Partizan NIS Belgrade great Novica Velickovic that also featured reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions Anadolu Efes Istanbul began with heartfelt tributes to a man who started his coaching career in 1978 on the bench of the home team and ended it in 2016 on that of the visitors.
The Partizan and Efes starters stood shoulder-to-shoulder at midcourt holding a banner that said "Duda Thank you!" during a minute of silence before tipoff as 15,000 Partizan fans at Stark Arena paid respects together to a man who stood tall as one of the true ambassadors of Serbian basketball on the world stage.
Partizan honored Mr. Ivkovic further by winning a close game, 92-85, as Rade Zagorac and Zach LeDay hit three-pointers in the final 75 seconds to secure the victory.
But on this night, the result was secondary to the class with which his first and last teams dignified the moment in the same way their esteemed former coach dignified the sport of basketball with his dedication to it over a lifetime.