At first glance, this almost looks like it could be a Lakers jersey – purple and gold, Vujacic, 18 – but it is actually from Sasha’s hometown soccer team, NK Maribor. A gift from Sasha’s childhood teammate Jure Petek, the jersey was custom made with Sasha’s name and number and signed by the NK Maribor players.
I asked Jure, who played basketball with Sasha when they were 11 and 12, how he came up with this unique gift idea. “Me and a friend of mine from Slovenia, who were at the Finals against the Celtics last year, had the idea of the signed jersey,” he said. “We often play soccer with Zlatko Zahovic, who is a soccer legend here in our country and currently manager of the Maribor club. He is also a big fan of the Lakers and Sasha, so it wasn’t a problem. He immediately took care of the present. Most of the current Maribor players signed the jersey. It was after a league game in the locker room.”
Sasha was delighted with the gift. He considers NK Maribor one of his favorite sports teams and even started chanting their slogan when I asked about the club. It is an appropriate coincidence that the most famous team from Sasha’s home country shares the same colors as the Lakers. The town of Maribor has long been associated with purple, Sasha explained. However, in reverse of the Lakers, the soccer team wears purple during home matches and yellow for away matches.