By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The decision of Fenerbahce to cut ties with Antic was a blessing for Crvena Zvezda. The Serbs are building a new team which will be created almost from scratch and Antic is one of the few players who know the way and can show it to the others.
After all, there are not many veterans around Europe who have played meaningful minutes in the NBA, have won three EuroLeague titles and would love to play for Crvena Zvezda. The team that was the pleasant surprise of the EuroLeague for the past two seasons has been dismantled and Antic’s presence can be much more important off the court.
A new era that reminds past struggles
With coach Radonjic and also Simonovic, Mitrovic, Jenkins, Jovic, Kuzmic and Guduric out, Zvezda will have to bring in young talents like Mathias Lessort, Nikola Radicevic, Stefan Jankovic and Nikola Jovanovic and blend them with James Feldeine, Taylor Rochestie, Marko Keselj under coach Dusan Alimpijevic who is four year younger than 35 years old Antic. That makes Antic probably the most important link in the locker rooms.
It’s not the first time when Zvezda is in need, that Antic is present. After leaving Greek club AEK back in 2005, Antic played from 2005 to 2007 for Zvezda, during the worst recent era of the club. The first decade of this century was not the best for Crvena Zvezda. Despite an ambitious project called “Evropska Zvezda”, or if you prefer “European Red Star”, that was initiated in the summer of 2002, the club never reached the goal of playing in the EuroLeague during that decade and remained in the shadow of cross town rival Partizan.
Still Antic was part of the roster that managed to bring one of the two trophies which Zvezda won between 1998 and 2012. Under coach Dragan Sakota, who worked with Antic also in AEK and having teammates like Milan Gurovic, Gerrod Henderson, and Larry O’Bannon, Zvezda won the 2006 Serbian cup (80-65 over Hemofarm). It was not enough. Antic left at the summer of 2017 and his career was resurrected in the summer of 2011 when he transferred to Olympiacos.
A real fan
Antic is more than emotional on the court and a fan favorite in every team he has ever played. It’s one of the reasons, alongside his crafty basketball skills, that his contribution even to teams with vast talent like Atlanta or Fenerbahce is always noted.
However, he doesn’t hide his love for Crvena Zvezda and Olympiacos (he even has the tattoos to prove it). This kind of emotion sometimes can be a double edged sword, however, at this point, Zvezda needs every edge possible and Antic is ready to provide it.