Career highlight for Dragić as Heat make NBA final
Orlando, 28 September - Slovenian NBA star Goran Dragić will play in the final of the NBA for the first time after his Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 4:2 in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The 34-year-old says his first NBA final will definitely be a career highlight, but one that is difficult to compare to 2017, when Slovenia won the Eurobasket.
"It's hard to make comparisons. When you play for your country, for your people, it is something very personal. And you play in front of fans, in front of a capacity crowd. It feels different. But the path to the NBA final has been an extraordinary experience for me throughout the season," he told the STA.
Having been one of the key players for Miami throughout the playoff, Dragič scored 13 points and three rebounds in the final game on Sunday. Miami now face the Los Angeles Lakers, who defeated the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference.
"I came from the bench, I tried to enjoy every moment, encourage my fellow players, help them. I'm glad about what we've achieved. But we're not done yet," he said. "First I want to enjoy these moments, soak them up, and then prepare well for the final."
Dragić joined the NBA in 2008 with the Phoenix Suns. He briefly played for the Houston Rockets before rejoining the Suns and finally making the transition to Miami in 2015.
"I've waited a long time for this moment, eleven, twelve years. I'm finally here... I'm glad we're here, I can't wait for the final," he said.
Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said that six years ago, he and team president Pat Riley had promised Dragić Miami would have a team that will fight for the championship title. "Nobody knew how things will go, but Dragić stuck with us anyway," he said.
Dragić said the atmosphere in the team was great. "We have amazing chemistry on and off court. We like to play together and we see how each one of us contributes to the mosaic."
The first game of the final will be played in the NBA bubble in Orlando on 1 October.